Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Chronological Reading Plan for July 6, Jonah 1-4

Today's readings are Jonah 1-4. Tomorrow's are 2 Kings 15, 2 Chron 26. 

Despite the opinion of some, Jonah is a historical figure. He is mentioned in 2 Kings 14:25 and Mt 12:39-41. 

Jonah is a prophet albeit somewhat narrow minded and somewhat sinful as well. He is certainly a nationalist of the highest order, getting angry when God shows mercy on Israel's enemy.  Jonah is angry at the beginning of the book and remains angry at the end. The events in Jonah occur in the early 8th century BC, after Assyria has captured Samaria and deported its people.

In Jonah 1, he flees when God commands him to go to Ninevah (the capital of Assyria). Reluctant to go and thinking he could escape from God, Jonah takes a ship to Tarshish. A storm comes, Jonah is thrown overboard and swallowed by a "great fish". 

Jonah 2 shows him repenting and being "vomited up on dry land". 

In Jonah 3, God tells him again to go to Ninevah. This time Jonah goes. If Jonah had known more about the character and nature of God, he would have known that God is omnipresent (everywhere) and impossible to escape from. 


Jonah walks into the middle of a fierce enemy's largest, most powerful city and prophesies against them. Amazingly, they repent and turn toward God.  

Jonah is angry over their repentance in Jonah 4. A petulant man, he shows more concern for a plant than he does for the people of Ninevah. The book ends there. 

While the ending may seem unresolved, it is far from it. God has allowed all this into Jonah's life to show him something about himself. Jonah was oblivious to the fact that, in being swallowed by the whale and managing to survive, he was the recipient of an incredible grace. His disobedience and attempt to escape God should have ended in his demise. Instead, God gave him another chance at redemption. Jonah had far less compassion on the Ninevites than God had for him. 

We do not hear of Jonah's ultimate fate. But we can learn from his anger and self-interest. While Ninevah's repentant attitude was short-lived, Jonah seems to carry on unchanged. A bitter man sat on that hill overlooking the city, one that missed a great work of God becasue things did not turn out the way he expected them to.  Jonah had been blessed to hear from God, blessed to be spared by Him and blessed to have been used by Him. Clearly, none of that made him happy.  He missed incredible joy and blessing because he didn't get his way. 

One of the main lessons of the book is that God moves in ways that may surprise us at times. We should be in awe of how He works His ways. If what He wants is truly for our good and His glory, when things don't go the way we expect them to go, we should question our expectations not the works of His hand.

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