Contend Earnestly: Jonah - "The Hero"

Monday, November 06, 2006

Jonah - "The Hero"

I would hope that you are as disturbed by the title of this article as I was when I read it in my Bible dictionary under the entry labeled "Book of Jonah". This one statement communicated that the writer of this particular entry did not understand the major premise behind this biblical book. Jonah is by no means a hero! That God is abounding in lovingkindness and will work His will in spite of the sins of men, even His own chosen prophet, shows clearly that He is the hero of this incredible account.

When you have a spare 10 minutes, read through this short book, and take note of Jonah's character; namely that he is marked by racism, hatred, anger and staggering pride. And all of this done as a direct affront to YHWH of hosts.

Jonah is the only prophet who openly and persistently defied God. To be sure, there have been other disobedient prophets, those who hesitated, those who doubted. But Jonah ran. Jonah shook his fist at YHWH and there is no indication in the book that he was ever repentant. Two things to notice are the abrupt beginning and ending to this book.

The opening verses set the tone (unfortunately) well:

Jon 1:1-3
"The word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai saying, "Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me." But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. "

What amazing foolishness to think that he could flee from the presence of YHWH! The last words of Jonah are as follows:

Jon 4:9
Then God said to Jonah, "Do you have good reason to be angry about the plant?" And he said, "I have good reason to be angry, even to death."

The force of the Hebrew language communicates that Jonah had the audacity to use expletive language with YHWH Almighty. Unthinkable.

So, who is the hero of this historical narrative? A spiteful, vengeful, selfish and self-centered, disobedient prophet who completed his mission simply based on the fact that YHWH is Omnipotent and Sovereign in causing His prophecy to be preached?

Or is it a patient, merciful and loving God who cares even for the wicked city of Nineveh? Who even cares for an ungodly prophet like Jonah? Who even cares for you?


Seth McBee said...

Jonah's last thoughts are definitely a lot different than God's last words to Moses..."Moses, My servant is dead."

I would rather be called a servant than to be so brazen to call out in anger at God. I pray that I would continue to try and be like Moses and pray that I don't let circumstances diffuse me to hatred of the lost.

good article.

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