Lessons from The Book of Jonah

Sorry for the funky editing. You may see a better version here: Assignment 14

Shared Truths

  1. God forgives……………………………………………………………………………………….. 4:2; 3:10; 2:10; 1:15
  2. We should not avoid God’s commands…………………………………………………………………. Chapter 1
  3. Our misguided anger is not good…………………………………………………………………………….. 4:10-11
  4. God can use us even after we have disobeyed Him………………………………………….. 1:16; Chapter 3
  5. When separated from God, we may still call on Him………………………………………………… Chapter 2
  6. God’s grace may be unpleasant………………………………………………………………………………….. 1:17
  7. God cares about gentiles…………………………………………………………………………. 1:16; 3:10; 4:10-11
  8. God may show mercy even unto the condemned………………………………………… Chapter 2; 3:4, 10
  9. We cannot ignore God’s call on our lives……………………………………………………………………… 1:5-6
  10. Others may suffer when we disobey God……………………………………………………………… Chapter 1
  11. Ignorant sacrifice is ineffective……………………………………………………………………………………… 1:5
  12. God knows what is good better than we do……………………………………………….. Chapter 4; 1:13-14
  13. With Great power comes great responsibility………………………………………………………… Uncle Ben

Highlighted Shared Truths

1. God forgives

I find it of note that in every chapter of the book of Jonah the idea of God relenting from His judgment is presented: In chapter one, the judgment of the storm passes; in chapter two, the judgement Jonah faces after being thrown into the sea and being swallowed by the fish passes; in chapter three the judgement pronounced against Nineveh passes; and in chapter four, Jonah simply proclaims that God is one “who relents from sending calamity” (4:2).

5. When separated from God, we may still call on Him

This theme is similar to the eighth shared truth of the above list: I think they are complementary to each other. Throughout the poetic section, Jonah describes his situation in terms that seem hopeless: “the realm of the dead” (2:2) would seemingly be a place beyond hope; the phrases “you hurled me” (2:3) and “I have been banished” (2:4) would signify that God has rejected Jonah. Jonah never seems to appeal his situation. However, far from a hopeless cry, this psalm repeatedly shows Jonah calling on (2:2), or turning to (2:4), God, claiming “[God] answered me” (2:2) and “my prayer rose to [God], to [His] holy temple” (2:7). Similar to Jonah’s situation, the Ninivites find themselves under threat of destruction in chapter three, and they, hoping “God may yet relent” (3:9), humble themselves and repent. Complementary to all of this, we see the eighth shared truth as well, see that God does relent of both the destruction of Nineveh and Jonah’s “banishment” (3:10 and 2:10 respectively).

7. God cares about gentiles

A major theme I see in the Book of Jonah is a juxtaposition of the Jewish Prophet Jonah and the narrative’s gentiles: The sailors and the Ninevites both are spared from some disaster, both come to fear God, and this is compared to the stiff-necked Jonah who directly disobeys God and even finds God—or His actions—evil (4:1). What is the point being made? In the conclusion, God asks some pointed questions. On one level, God’s first two questions reveal a logical flaw in Jonah’s anger, shows how Jonah is inconsistent in his care for the plant and his hatred for Nineveh. The book ends on the question of whether or not God should have compassion on Nineveh, a question to which the preceding narrative seems to answer in the affirmative: God has already shown care for Nineveh and for the sailors.

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