Mask, Fins and Salvation
1 The word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time, saying,
2 "Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to
it the message that I tell you." 3 So Jonah set out and went
to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was
an exceedingly large city, a three days' walk across. 4 Jonah
began to go into the city, going a day's walk. And he cried out,
"Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!"
5 And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast,
and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth.
The Problem with Success
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Jonah is tasked with going and telling his enemies that they
are going to get destroyed by God. Even though he really didn't
want to go (the whole swallowed by a fish thing), he did finally
show up and deliver the message. The only problem is that Nineveh
chose to believe him and repented and is spared. A few lessons
seem to pop right out of this story. First, Jonah is taught through
a calamity of his errors that God can show mercy to whom God chooses
(so get over it and himself). Second, Nineveh's greatly exaggerated
repentance to the warnings from a God they don't know or worship
is in ironic contrast to Israel's own response (or lack thereof).
The four short chapters of Jonah are well worth reading, especially
with the help of a good commentary. It is fun and full of wit
and allegory. It clearly illustrates that God is a God of grace
and compassion as well as humor. Perhaps the only precursor to
snorkeling in the Bible.
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