A LOVE SUPREME

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Jonah - A biography

The person of Jonah and his personal experience are central to the message of the book that bears his name, as contrasted to, for example, Samuel or Amos; the book is written about Jonah biographically, rather than reflecting primarily the message he preached. (Stuart WBC 431)

The book of Jonah is a biography. It is a drama about a man and his deeply rooted resentment of a people, a race of people and a nation of people. The drama explores the spiritual and psychological being of a man whose resentment and thirst for vengeance cannot be quenched. Amazingly, this man is a prophet. A spokesman for God. Delivered from the wrath of the ocean he nonetheless cannot accept the fact that Yahweh would similarly deliver Ninevah. Hence, we have a drama about the Other - the ones who deserve resentment.

When one considers the grand event surrounding the drama it is amazing that any one person's gripes and complaints should be entertained. Consider. The preaching of a prophet brings about the repentance of an entire city. And not an ordinary city, but a great city. A prominent city. An important city. The prophets of our day and age would surely find a way to capitalize on such success! A marketing and fund raising campaign would result in bankrolling the prophet and his successors for generations to come. Followers would flock for decades if only to walk in the footsteps of a genuine revival - never mind the fact that Yahweh had long abandoned the premises.

But maybe that is part of the intrigue. Despite such a large-scale work of God we are drawn into a personal show-down between Yahweh and His prophet. We explore the resentment that fuels vengeance that has only blood as its object. But isn't God a just God? And isn't Israel God's chosen people? There is not apology or repentance that can satisfy Jonah. And so we witness the stand off.

The prophet doesn't budge.

Will we budge?

Should we budge?

What does it mean to budge?

Let's blog through the drama of Jonah. No. Better yet, let's slog through it. Take our time and explore.

3 comments:

Melody said...

As you have outlined it was not in Jonah's best interest to react as he did.
That makes it hard to foster a belief that we should behave similarly.

I'm just fascinated by God's obstinance (can you call it obstinance if you're talking about God?) in using someone spectacularly, who obviously does not wish to be used in any way at all.

Jonathan Erdman said...

Melody:
I'm just fascinated by God's obstinance (can you call it obstinance if you're talking about God?) in using someone spectacularly, who obviously does not wish to be used in any way at all.

Yes.

God can even use an ass to speak truth:

28And the LORD opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times?
29And Balaam said unto the ass, Because thou hast mocked me: I would there were a sword in mine hand, for now would I kill thee.
30And the ass said unto Balaam, Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine unto this day? was I ever wont to do so unto thee? and he said, Nay.
Numbers 22

I guess that's what makes history so interesting - watching who God uses and who God doesn't use. Jonah was a significant prophet who was probably well known, at least in the north. But he had some serious issues. It is truly fascinating how Scripture puts all the garbage of people's lives out in the open!

Rina said...

Thanks for writing this.