Here we find ourselves at the end of our journey through the book of Jonah. And Jonah returns to his crazy making ways in the final chapter. The irony as well as the story line comes to climax.
Last week we ended with a total and wholehearted response of repentance from all of the inhabitants of Nineveh from the greatest to the least. It even included the animals! The repentance is not only marked with a sorrowful lament over their sin, but also included a turning from their evil and violent ways.
And God, in his compassion and mercy, heard their cries, saw their turning, and relented of the judgment he was going to bring upon them. Amazing grace! You would think this would cause Jonah to be overwhelmed with joy and praise to God. And here is where the irony comes to a climax. Instead of rejoicing in the salvation of Nineveh, he becomes angry and goes up on a hill overlooking the city to pout about it all. A stunning response.
God asks a question of Jonah seeing him in this puzzling state of response, “Is it right for you to be angry?” And Jonah responds, “Yep… it is.” Wow! God follows up this scene with an object lesson of a growing and fast withering shade plant. And then God proclaims his message for his people, “Jonah, you have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many animals as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?” Shouldn’t we?
Can’t wait to unpack this week with you. Read Jonah 4 in prep for Sunday’s message – Sunday is a comin’!
We are on to week three of Jonah – Chapter three! Jonah has been given a second chance to be God’s prophet and bring the Word to Nineveh, a huge populated city. His message isn’t a pleasant one to bring, “In 40 days, Nineveh will be destroyed!”
As Jonah enters the outskirts of the city proclaiming this message an amazing thing happens – the people fully repent. News reaches the king of Jonah’s message before Jonah even reaches the king. And the king’s response is immediate – repentance! He issues a decree for everyone, including the animals of the land to engage in mourning over their sin. He says something amazing, “Who knows? God may relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish!”
This brings up an important theme for us to consider: Is God’s judgment of sin conditional or unconditional? Meaning, does God change his mind about his judgment of sin if there is repentance? This is an important question and we will grapple with it on Sunday.
See you Sunday,
Here we go – Jonah chapter 2! We left Jonah swallowed by a great fish navigating the depths of the sea. What is Jonah thinking now? Is he having a change of heart?
One thing is certain: Jonah begins to Lament. His prayer from the belly of the great fish is a classic Hebrew lament. He cries out to God, appeals to God’s character, and vows to praise God for his deliverance. There seems to be at least a whimper of repentance (a turning around) in Jonah’s spirit.
There is a consistent message in the Bible that repeats over and over – ‘repent and be saved.’ Repentance means ‘to turn’. Repentance is to do a 180. Jonah, through the experience in the belly of the whale, seems to do a 180. And by the end of chapter 2 he is vomited (regurgitated) onto dry land. A rebirth. A new beginning. A fresh start. A 2nd life. Jonah 2.0.
So far the wind, the waves, the great fish all serve as a kind of rebuke for God’s people. They had forgotten what God had called them to do, ‘to be a light to the Gentiles.’ (Isaiah 42 and 49) Now that Jonah has a 2nd chance to walk in God’s call for his life – will he follow through?
This question is a good one for us too – now that we have a 2nd chance to walk in God’s call for our lives – will we?
Sunday is a comin’,
Into our faith community for the next four weeks comes the Biblical story of Jonah. So also, message of the Book of Jonah to the people of God is also coming to our faith community over the next four weeks: God’s Call for HisPeople, Repentance and God’s Justice/Mercy, Running from God’s Call on our Lives, and God’s Concern and Grace for the People of the World.
Jonah is an amazing book in its message, story and literary quality – a masterpiece. Every word matters. Its pithy and filled with adventure and challenging truth. It also filled with stunning irony. Can’t wait to explore this book with you.
For Sunday, read Jonah chapter 1. Don’t read any further 🙂 Let’s be surprised by the text as we walk through the next 4 weeks together. Ask yourself Who is the main actor/character of the first chapter? and Where do you see irony in the first chapter?
See you Sunday!