Well, I as was spending some time in the ‘throne room’ this morning, I had time to read the book of Jonah. I thought it was interesting (and probably God) that I opened right to it, when yesterday I’d just read that this is the book that was read by those who are Jewish on Yom Kippur, earlier this week. So, having opened up to it, I thought I’d read it again, to understand the relation between the Day of Atonement and the book of Jonah.
I’ll ‘summarize’ a bit.
God tells Jonah, “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me”
Jonah, instead of being obedient, runs away from God to the port in Joppa and hops on a boat headed for Tarshish. Oops! God, who sees and knows all, sends quite a storm against this ship until the crew finally throws Jonah overboard; after he confesses that the storm is his fault. God is kind enough to have a great fish waiting in the deep to swallow him up for 3 days and nights. This was long enough for Jonah to do some thinking and some praying and exalting God from the deep, and saying ‘What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the Lord.”
When back on dry ground God once again comes to Jonah and tells him: “Go to the great city of Ninevah and proclaim to it the message I give you”. Oh, and evidently, not only is this city quite wicked, it is also quite large and important; large enough to take 3 days to visit. So Jonah sets out telling this message in the city: “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.” Fortunately for them, they believed God, fasted and repented. Including the King. Once the news reached him he decreed: “Do not let any man or beast, herd or flock, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”
“When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.”
Jonah’s response? He got angry and wanted to die. yikes! He knew this would be the outcome! I guess he’d judged Ninevah and wanted to see them get what he deemed they deserved. Sound familiar? ugh. He told God even, “I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity…”
Then God teaches Jonah a quick lesson, and after Jonah gets all angry (and still wanting to die) about a vine, here today and gone tomorrow, God reveals His motivation. This is what stuck out to me today, as if in bold red letters:
“But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?”
God, always the same, yesterday, today and tomorrow. Still gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. If only we were not so stubborn… Are we not in the position now, to learn a lesson from Ninevah????
Jesus said, Go and preach: “Repent (change the way you think – turning from evil and our own ways of doing things, to Him) for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” God sent a dove to reveal His truth, in Love. He is still doing so today.
Jonah son of Amittai – Jonah:dove; Amittai; truth
As for Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement? God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth on Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16 The Word, coming in the form of man/flesh, to reveal the Heart of the Father, with the ultimate purpose of defeating sin and death through suffering and dying on the cross – in our place: He who was without sin, became sin; His name attached to our every offense, paid our wages of sin, that we would have life, life abundant and life eternal. Atonement. Grace. It is finished. Beautiful, Powerful: The Way, The Truth & The Life – Jesus.