Tuesday, October 30, 2007

It's Not About the Fish

First, a big shout-out to good buddy Mitch up in Minnesota for reminding me that I'm supposed to get back to blogging about what I mentioned the last time -- the whole Jonah thing. It's sad that some of the most significant story-as-illustration-of-Christ accounts in the Bible (namely that of Noah and that of Jonah) seem to be relegated to the status of children's stories, causing the deeper meanings to be lost. Okay, I'm already getting off-topic so let's get back to it.

The book of Jonah is not about the big fish. Yes, Jesus does point to it later in the New Testament as a parallel to his own upcoming three days in the grave and resurrection (and that's good stuff!), but the point of the book as a whole comes down to the fourth and final chapter. (It's a short one, so go read it. Right now. I'll wait.)

God tells Jonah to go preach to the people of Ninevah (that's in Assyria) because He's going to bring judgment on them. Jonah "runs from God". Storm at sea. Jonah tossed overboard to calm sea (it works). Big fish swallows Jonah. Three days in belly. Jonah agrees to go to Ninevah. He preaches. Entire city "believes the Lord" and repents. God has compassion on them.

Jonah gets angry enough to die. Huh?!

That's right. He's mad because -- and get this -- he knew this would happen. Jonah knew God would have compassion on the repentent Assyrians and not bring a judgment on them. That's why he didn't want to go. He wasn't afraid, he just doesn't like Assyrians! Wow. He's so upset they've now come into relationship with God that he doesn't want to go on living.

So, who are the "people of Ninevah" in our lives, that we'd rather see face God's judgment than bring them His message, which might lead to His compassion on them? The French? Many Americans are mad at them, and quite frankly we saw as we traveled in Europe that no one else is that wild about them either? Maybe it's the immigrants coming to our country. Maybe it's the guy down the street that I don't like, or the boss at work I have a problem with, or someone in my family that thinks only of themselves.

And Jesus's answer to having my heart changed about his? "Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." Huh. Pray for them.

So, who's your Ninevah?

I invite your comments on anything I've said. Would love to see some discussion.

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