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Jonah 1 – going down and hurling things

Obadiah had predicted God’s judgment on Edom for their crimes against Israel. That is exactly the theology that Jonah wanted to apply to the current enemy of Nineveh. When Yahweh called Jonah to cry out against Nineveh, he understood that God’s word of judgment included the possibility of repentance – and Jonah did not want that.

Nineveh is north-west by land, so Jonah goes north-east by sea. God hurls a great wind upon the sea. One notes that Jonah had gone down to Joppa and then gone down into the ship and finally gone down to sleep in the inner part of the ship to sleep – is this anticipating one more going down shortly to come?

The one man on board who could provide an understanding of life even in the shadow of death … is asleep. The sailors tell Jonah to get up and pray – fancy having to be told by Gentiles what you need to do as a prophet. Ultimately, God who is sovereign over dice, identifies Jonah’s rebellion as the problem. The Gentile sailors are terrified that Jonah has offended the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land. Ironically, the Gentiles try to save Jonah from God’s judgment even though Jonah had not wanted to save the Ninevites from God’s judgment.

Finally, unable to do anything more, Jonah is hurled into the sea and to his death – almost like a sacrifice so that God’s wrath can be propitiated. The sea and storm are calmed, and the Gentile sailors come to fear God, offer sacrifice, and make vows as worshipers of Yahweh. God has used the unwilling witness of Jonah to convert sinners! We can be confident in God’s effectiveness in evangelism.

Meanwhile, Yahweh appoints/provides a big fish to swallow Jonah. Is this grace?