Noting as I am sure we all have, we cannot fail to notice that Prophets were reluctant oracles,citing their shortcomings, doing their best to stay put and keep stum. Jumping to conclusions or over the sides of boats.
Jonah 1:1 sets us up for a prophecy or two from Jonah son of Amitta , because Jonah has a father therefore he must have existed. God telling him to preach against Nineveh is his initial task – his response is to run from the Lord to Tarshish. From Joppa to Tarshish with the Lord in his heart because wherever he went so went God or rather so is God.
Aside – This personal snippet has bearing on Jonah and great sea mammals, it is an illustration of what happens when well intentioned Psychiatrists try to treat Manic Depression with C.B.T. The bunny was moi, having an occasion when I could not manage my depressive periods in my usual way, I mentioned it to my G.P. who sent me to a Psychiatrist they either trusted, or had some reciprocal arrangement with – anyway he turned out to be a cognitive behaviorist. He began by getting me to fill out a happy scale from 1-5, every week. Huh well it is possible to be happy and depressed, so I fudged the results because happiness and depression are not mutually exclusive. How happy I felt does not cancel out the depressive cycle. So he gave me 5 vouchers and sent me to a Gym, thinking that doing exercises would help me forget what was depressing me, except nothing could;it is just the old brain playing see saw. All the depression and its baggage remained with me, in a slightly more puff-ed state just as God remained with Jonah even in the belly of a whale.
Enter great wind , violent storm, breaking ship and Jonah snoozed.
At least Jonah paid his fare. A good old storm is always a godly way to shift someone the right way and so there arose a humdinger of a storm and the sailors reacted to it appropriately. They lightened the vessel to assist it remaing right side up. When all this proved to no avail they were bid to pray to their gods. Some may even have had their god with them, a stone tucked away in a sea chest or cherished in a pocket. Anyways they all, most definitely prayed to their gods and nothing positive happened.
The captain sought out Jonah and asked “how can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us so that we will not perish.”
In the meanwhile the sailors and passengers cast lots to determine who had brought the calamity on them and the lot fell on Jonah.
“Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What kind of work do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?” said they all in one breath Jonah answered, “I am a Hebrew and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” Jonah was a wee bit breathless too since he knew he was sprung. Once more he tells them that he is running away from the terrible god they had become so fearful of. [Non of their gods had made anything]The best way, he told them is to toss him into the sea and all will be well for you. Initially they attempt to save everyone by rowing or trying to row towards the shore…..
Finally Jonah realises that the Lord is with him and there is no running or hiding, or further endangering the lives of others. Over the side he goes.
Listen to the Psalm Jonah makes unto the Lord, it is honest and discriptive and so devout, half way up to his knees in digestive juices, no doubt. And God caused the fish to vomit Jonah out on dry land, and not before time thinks the fish since he had never swallowed anything as tough and nauseating ever before.
OK Jonah get thee to Nineveh and prophesy.
It took three days to proclaim to the city and the king was easily converted given the recent earthquakes and plagues and his Royalship proclaimed:
“By the decree of the king and his nobles:
Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. 8 But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. 9 Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.” Jonah 3:7-9
People repented! And donned sackcloth and ashes – even the animals. Can anyone imagine a goose in sackcloth nevermind the ashes. Poor thing must have been terrified seeing the fire seemingly overtaking her nestlings. Of course God forgives them, as Jonah knew he would and stomps out of the city to the desert.
In this gust. (disgust) Jonah is a play in 4 acts and we are about to reach the parable at its ending.