Posted by: biblestudyseattle | August 26, 2012

Jonah

Jonah is a very memorable book.  He is told to preach against the wicked city Nineveh, but instead runs the other way.  He probably figured he’d be killed; hence the running away.  Imagine if you were told to preach a bold message in a country where Christians are routinely killed.  You might run the other way too!  But God had his hand in the whole thing.

A huge storm arises threatening to sink the ship he’s on.  The sailors plead with God not to hold them responsible for throwing Jonah overboard.  Jonah goes overboard and the sea calms down immediately.  (Sounds like Jesus sleeping while the waters surged over the disciple’s boat on the sea of Galilee.  Luke 8:23-25)  Jonah is swallowed by a great fish and vomited onto the beach.  Most stories have it that Jonah miraculously survived three days and three nights in the fish.  Or did Jonah die?  And be resurrected on the third day?  Either way it’s a miracle, but the resurrection more closely matches Jesus’ experience in the tomb.

Then Jonah decides since he already died, it can’t be any worse in Nineveh.  So he goes and preaches destruction.  And they all repent!  Wow.  That never happens!  Why did it happen?  Perhaps there’s a bigger picture here.

Jonah spent three days and three nights in the belly of the fish just as Jesus spent three days and three nights in the heart of the earth (death).  Then he’s resurrected and preaches to pagans.  Is this not a picture of the millennium?  Christians will be resurrected to heaven for the job of restoring mankind on earth.  The whole world will hear the message.  Even the animals!  Notice that the king of Nineveh had the animals repent and lie in sackcloth too!  This is suggests that even animals have morality and will be resurrected too.  Remember the scene in Isaiah:  “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.  The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox.  The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.  They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”  Isaiah 11:6-9

After Nineveh repents, Jonah is disappointed.  Perhaps he wanted to see Nineveh fried to a crisp?  But God tells him of his great love and that there were 120,000 children there.  This has the ring of the Prodigal Son story where the elder faithful son is mad when the profligate son is treated with a banquet.  The Father’s explanation to the faithful son is much like God’s explanation to Jonah for his great mercy.  Won’t it be that way in the millennium?  The grace may be too much for some Christians to bear.  Consider this:

“However, I will restore the fortunes of Sodom and her daughters and of Samaria and her daughters, and your [Israel’s] fortunes along with them, so that you may bear your disgrace and be ashamed of all you have done in giving them comfort.  And your sisters, Sodom with her daughters and Samaria with her daughters, will return to what they were before; and you and your daughters will return to what you were before.”  Ezekiel 16:53-55

This is saying God will raise Sodom and Samaria from the dead along with Israel.  That’s a lot of grace!


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