(August 26, 2019) Dr Jim McClure, straight shooting theologian, shares on the most misunderstood book in the Bible…
The book of Jonah is probably the best known book in the Old Testament – but for all the wrong reasons! Most people think of it as a pleasant bedtime story for children about a man who fell off a boat and was swallowed by a whale. A few days later the whale spat him out and he walked off into the land of happy-ever-after.
But that is not what the book of Jonah is about. Its message is much more interesting, challenging and radical than that. In fact it is one of the most revolutionary books in the Old Testament!
Background to the story
The story of Jonah is set around 2700 years ago and the people of Israel believed that they were in an exclusive relationship with God who loved only them. They had a kind of exclusive and territorial mentality about Yahweh.
God chose Jonah to ‘shake their world’!
Yet we do not actually know much about him. We know that his name means ‘Dove’ and that he came from a town near Nazareth. He was given an unenviable task – to go to Nineveh, the oldest and most densely populated city of the ancient Assyrian Empire which was also considered to be one of the wickedest cities in the world and its people were known for their ruthlessness, cruelty, child sacrifice, sexual perversion and witchcraft.
1. The reluctance of Jonah
(i) Jonah’s call
God’s call to Jonah was personal and specific – ‘Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me’ (1:2). (more…)