Wednesday, November 23, 2016

TheStoryOfJonah : Introduction

Detail of Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel:
The Prophet Jonah
Jonah is one of the most well-known books of the Bible. But we may not remember the story of Jonah like it was meant to be remembered...and read.

We all may remember at one stage of our lives where we sat around a small table, while sticking gum to the bottom of our chairs (or into Sally's hair because we had a crush on her), watching our teacher take out different shapes from her binder, and as she spoke, placing them on a flannel graph.

As she placed the first shape on the board, she began to tell the Story of Jonah: "There once was a man named Jonah...". She then put a shape in the clouds to represent God and said, "God asked Jonah to go to Nineveh. But Jonah didn't listen". She then proceeded to place a large shape on the board, which was in the shape of a whale and then said, "So, God sent a whale to swallow Jonah for three days..."

Like many Sunday School classes, the Old Testament stories* stand in our minds today as great examples of faithful people in whom we can learn many lessons from. Yet, I wonder how many of us, as we grow a bit older, go back to these stories and read them again through the lens as mature adults? This is why I chose The Book of Jonah to go through on this blog. Though it is a small book (and though I've read it through in one sitting a number of times in preparation), I truly believe that there are many, many lessons that we can discover by carefully reading through it (again, or for the first time).

One fact that might be unknown to you is that Jesus, in the Gospels, spoke of Jonah. In Matthew 12:39, 40, Jesus says, An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. And in Luke's account, he records Jesus teaching, The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here (Luke  11:32).

Frankly, if Jesus refers to the Book of Jonah in comparison to His death and resurrection and about the importance of the peoples' repentance at the judgment, I think we would do very well to sit up an take notice of what this small book has to offer us today. My hope is that as we walk through this true-life Story of Jonah together, we will discover more about the grace of our LORD and how patient He is with us. 

We can learn many things about The Sovereignty of the LORD, even in the depths of the sea (inside a whale, of all things). What this story teaches me is that there is literally no where that we can't experience the Gift of His Sovereignty in our lives. I believe the Lessons of Jonah are yet another example in Scripture where we can glean the majesty of the LORD's Sovereign will. 

Journey with me, will you, as we discover together the Story of Jonah again (or for the first time, with better eyes).

*When writers use the word 'story' it often conveys that the happenings they are referring to were only fictitious stories that we can learn truths from. I am one that believes that this 'story' of Jonah actually occurred, and through the instances of him being swallowed by a whale, etc. we can glean many lessons from it for our lives today 

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