Thursday, October 13, 2016

Remember Jonah

I ran into an old friend Sunday and he mentioned I haven't written anything on this blog for a while.   That's true.  I haven't.  I've had a lot going on.   I'm in a much better place now and most importantly, I have my home office back.   (I evicted a crazy person without hurting her, be proud of me.)  

Jonah 1:17-2:10 (NRSV)
17But the LORD provided a large fish to swallow up Jonah; and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the belly of the fish, 2 saying, "I called to the LORD out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice. 3You cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me; all your waves and your billows passed over me. 4Then I said, 'I am driven away from your sight; how shall I look again upon your holy temple?' 5The waters closed in over me; the deep surrounded me; weeds were wrapped around my head 6at the roots of the mountains. I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me forever; yet you brought up my life from the Pit, O LORD my God. 7As my life was ebbing away, I remembered the LORD; and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple. 8 Those who worship vain idols forsake their true loyalty. 9But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Deliverance belongs to the LORD!" 10 Then the LORD spoke to the fish, and it spewed Jonah out upon the dry land.
It's not easy to feel sorry for Jonah in this passage.   He's sitting in the belly of a great big fish that we all imagine as a whale and he suddenly remembers God.   God who he has been running from all this time because he knew god was going to be nice to people he didn't like.  (Please note that it doesn't say Jonah has a reason to hate the people of Nineveh.  He just does.)  God who he jumped on a boat and proceeded to go as far as he possibly could away from the task he'd been asked to perform.

Jonah, for all I know, is a metaphor, but this guy is basically my spirit animal.   I understand him.  I still grumble and complain when the Lord asks me to be kind to people I don't like, but I haven't taken off across the ocean in a boat yet.  I haven't even run away in a long time.  I actually usually don't even run very far.   Maybe I'm remembering Jonah...

Remember Jonah.


  1. Jonah is unique among the books of prophecy, in that the focus is not on the prophecy itself but on the prophet. Isaiah, Jeremiah, et al are full of lengthy sermons & sometimes difficult metaphors. We have no record of what Jonah preached (for 3 days) other than "repent" & it worked. No, the focus of the book is entirely on Jonah's personal experience. For me it also hits way to close to home how this man of faith continues to be so bitter & stubborn. After surviving being thrown overboard which for a Hebrew was a special kind of hell & surviving the fish, you'd think he'd get it. But even when he obeyed the Lord he still wanted God to destroy Ninevah & the story ends kind of unresolved, on a bitter sweet note, with Jonah still angry at God. That's a lot for such a short story! Good to see you back Leslie!

  2. It's also the only book in the Bible that ends with a question. The NIV translates it thus: "Should I not be concerned about that great city?" (Meaning Nineveh, of course)
    Btw: My personal suspicion is that the 'fish' was probably a divinely built and piloted submarine.