Weekly Teachings by Erik Momsen
Jonah - Fisher of Men?
The sad little prophetic book of Jonah is a story about the Great "Fisher of Men" and not about a great fish. It is a missionary tract that describes God’s concern for the great enemy of Israel, Nineveh, and points to Israel's failure to represent God in the world. Jonah is anything but a hero of the faith and his self-centredness is depicted in comedic terms.
1:1 "The word of the Lord came to Jonah ... preach against it (Nineveh), because its wickedness has come up before me."
- God is aware and concerned about man’s behaviour & seeks repentance.
1:3 "Jonah ... sailed to Tarshish to flee from the Lord."
- A rebellious yet futile action.
1:5 "All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw cargo into the sea ..."
- Points to a basic knowledge of some spiritual entity who might judge or save. Most know there is a god but don’t know Him. Times of crisis are often times for belief.
1:6 "Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us ..."
- Any prayers will help - a typical "new age" mind. Religious roulette - pick a god and hope he acts.
1:7 "Let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity. ... the lot fell on Jonah. ... 9 He answered. "I am a Hebrew and I worship the Lord, the God of Heaven, who made the sea and the land. This terrified them ..."
- Jonah gives the correct confessional statement - but his actions are wrong. The renown of the God of Israel terrifies the sailors. They knew the "God of Heaven" was the supreme God. They did not know that Jonah’s God could be theirs as well.
1:11 "What shall we do to you to make the sea calm down .. 12 ...throw me into the sea and it will calm down. I know it is my fault ."
- Jonah comes to his senses and knows he deserves death for his disobedience. He will also not endanger the lives of the sailors.
1:13 "Instead the men tried their best to row back to land. But they could not ... 14 "Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man."
- Their compassion for Jonah is noteworthy.
1:15 "the raging sea grew calm. At this the men greatly feared the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to him."
- The actions of God in their lives brings them to acknowledgement, worship and commitment to God.
1:16 "But the Lord provided a great fish."
- God is regularly described as providing.
2:2 "From the depths of the grave I called for help: ... 8 Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. But I, with a song of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the Lord."
- The "big fish" experience brings Jonah back to a complete dependence on God. He has experienced God’s mercy and again has a testimony.
Date Added: 2009-10-30
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