For some odd reasons, I decided to do a study on the book of Jonah. My intention is to write my summary in three articles. I will start with this, which is the overview, then do a deep-dive on the outlines and finally make a chapter by chapter study. So, help me, God.
The book of Jonah records one of those biblical stories that challenge our sense of practicability and logical beliefs. How can a man survive in the belly of a whale for three days? How is that even possible? I don’t know. I have no answers for you but if God said it happened, then that reality shapes my belief. By faith, we believe the word of God as factual and truthful. In order to make the best of this short study, I will encourage the reading of the book of Jonah. It is a book that reads nicely and with an easy-to-understand-plot. It has four chapters that can be read in 10–12 minutes.
In as much that was the most popular part of the book, many other miracles happened in that book.
- First, the sea calmed when Jonah was being thrown in.
- Second, not being killed by other fishes (eh sharks) but swallowed by another big fish presumably a whale.
- Third, being alive for three days in the belly of the whale.
- Fourth, being conscious enough to pray in the belly of the fish.
- Fifth, Jonah being delivered/vomited back to dry land.
- Sixth, that Nineveh listened to a prophet that they knew not.
- Seventh, the repentance of the city that was addicted to sin.
- Eight, the salvation of the city of Nineveh.
- Ninth, God’s forgiveness of Jonah’s deliberate disobedience, and,
- Tenth, the miracle of the gourd that shaded Jonah.
The Old Testament is a shadow of things to come in the New Testament. Jesus used Jonah to talk about what will happen to him. He (Jesus) will be in the bellies of the deep for three days, just like Jonah. Both of them (Jesus & Jonah) had divine mandates to reconcile men to God.
Nineveh is knee, head and hair deep into acts that displease God. Everything that offends God seems to be their speciality. God is upset and wants the land to vomit them. But in His merciful nature and love for man, God thinks if the folks in Nineveh are told to their faces what they are doing, they might repent and the destruction will be held back.
Jonah, a messenger from God, is organised to tell Nineveh of their wrongdoings and wickedness (injustice, oppression of the poor and vulnerable, immorality, lying, self-righteousness, etc) and the impending judgement. There was no call for repentance, but it seems there were people who knew God in Nineveh. Because when they heard the word of God, confronted with their sins, they believed it. It showed in their actions (repentance). They knew what to do to please God and avert the impending wrath of God.
God heard and saw what the people of Nineveh did and He averted the judgement. But there is someone else whose ego was bruised in the process — Jonah. He is upset because his words did not come to pass (the destruction) and he might be doubted as being a prophet in the first place. God used the gourd tree to teach Jonah a lesson — a lesson of love and care.
A Contemporary Outlook
Nineveh, in the contemporary world of today, would have been seen as a progressive town with all the liberalities of choices that people can take. The Bible said it was a great city. As a student of the Bible, one would know that the Bible does not mince words and description. If the Bible said it was great, then it was great. Nineveh had what it took to be a recognizable city in its day. A place that people would want to visit and identify with. The issue with God was not with the land but with the people that inhabited the land. You know, people make up a place.
“Do-as-it-seems-fit-to-your-logic,” would have been the mantra of existence. Unfortunately, most of the freedom of self-expression was in the direction that was not pleasing unto the Lord. Since God is a sincere and just judge, He had to do unto them as He did unto the folks in the time of Noah, Sodom and Gomorrah.
Does this sound familiar to our present-day and age?
Apart from the miracles that happened in the book of Jonah, other themes that stood out for me as I read the book are outlined here.
- The Mercifulness of God
- A False Prophet
- A Man That Knows God
- The Fruit of Repentance
- Lying Vanities — Varnishing Vanity
- Deliberate Disobedience
- Entitlement Exposed
- The Ego of Jonah
- The Irresponsibility of Responsible People
- The Role of the Saint in Nation Building
My next write up on this will be to expatiate on these outline and themes. Please do take out 10 minutes to read the whole book in order to see the outlines and theme. See you … in a bit. Hasta la vista.
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