(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…)
Rick Marschall, Special to ASSIST News Service writes:
Believers throughout the millennia have endured torture to learn and savour the gospel of Jesus Christ – the good news. Many believers have sacrificed their all in order to know and serve the Saviour. Many believers have risked, and lost, their lives in order to share Christ.
These facts are still true today. In lands where it is most difficult and dangerous, there are martyrs we hear about. We read of secret house churches in China, meeting in secret and in danger, yet boldly reading the Bible one page at a time each meeting. (more…)
Richard Guy writes:
Too often we carry the misconception that engaging in loving Christian community means there will never be conflict.
Unfortunately, wherever you gather ‘imperfect people’ together, conflict will inevitably arise. Avoiding conflict will not solve the problem and will ultimately prevent personal and spiritual growth. (more…)
Robert and Maureen McQuillan write:
Recently we attended the funeral of a friend who loved Jesus. Held in a local Uniting Church, we were impressed as the minister, Tony Johnson, shared from his heart.
Space doesn’t permit us to detail all that this soft-speaking Geelongite said but we’ll always recall the following– truths that are relevant to every Christian in their understanding of God, their following Jesus and living as he did. And in honouring God’s word and reaching out to everyone.
Tony’s welcome to the mixed gatherers – family, friends and those who were strangers to each other but had known the deceased through her lifetime daily exhibition of love, is a classic.
Quietly and simply but meaningfully, he said: ‘Welcome to all of you – to those who believe, those who do not believe, those who do not know what to believe and those who have been too hurt to believe anything.’ In his eulogy, Tony made it clear that God is the God of determination – that through Christ he showed that he is the God of reconciliation.