Hello people, I write after quite some time, am sorry I haven’t been able to write for a while as am into a new job dealing in broking and that is taking a lot of time and energy. Today I would like to write to you on the book of Jonah in the Old Testament, which is seen to run in tandem with the Gospels of the New Testament.
There are many similarities in the records of Jonah when compared to the life of Jesus. The Old Testament is mostly a shadow of things to come, the relationship between the prophets of the Old Testament and God were all a shadow of the relationship Jesus, the Son of God had with His Father. A shadow my friend is barely the outline of the object casting it, in the same way the relationship between the Old Testament prophets & God shown was just the silhouette of the fullness of relationship God the Father shared with God the Son.
Let us check 3 distinct characteristics in the record of Jonah and in the life of Jesus.
1. Jonah is strangely a prophet who opposes His duty to preach repentance to the city Nineveh. The story in short is this: God has had enough of the wickedness of Nineveh, he set Jonah with the duty to preach repentance to Nineveh, Jonah’s reason for not going to Nineveh is simply because he somehow feels God does not intend to punish Nineveh, Jonah knows the nature of God, he knows He is Good and forgiving and finds it of little use to preach to a people repentance who he feels deserve punishment. So Jonah sets off in the opposite direction of Nineveh but an unusual sequence of events brings Jonah to Nineveh and Nineveh repents and is saved from destruction. Let us go through some scripture.
Jonah 1:3-16 (Old Testament)
3 Jonah, however, set out in the opposite direction in order to get away from the Lord. He went to Joppa, where he found a ship about to go to Spain. He paid his fare and went aboard with the crew to sail to Spain, where he would be away from the Lord. 4 But the Lord sent a strong wind on the sea, and the storm was so violent that the ship was in danger of breaking up. 5 The sailors were terrified and cried out for help, each one to his own god. Then, in order to lessen the danger, they threw the cargo overboard. Meanwhile, Jonah had gone below and was lying in the ship’s hold, sound asleep.
6 The captain found him there and said to him, “What are you doing asleep? Get up and pray to your god for help. Maybe he will feel sorry for us and spare our lives.”
7 The sailors said to one another, “Let’s draw lots and find out who is to blame for getting us into this danger.” They did so, and Jonah’s name was drawn. 8 So they said to him: “Now then, tell us! Who is to blame for this? What are you doing here? What country do you come from? What is your nationality?”
9 “I am a Hebrew,” Jonah answered. “I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made land and sea.” 10 Jonah went on to tell them that he was running away from the Lord.
The sailors were terrified, and said to him, “That was an awful thing to do!” 11 The storm was getting worse all the time, so the sailors asked him, “What should we do to you to stop the storm?”
12 Jonah answered, “Throw me into the sea, and it will calm down. I know it is my fault that you are caught in this violent storm.”
13 Instead, the sailors tried to get the ship to shore, rowing with all their might. But the storm was getting worse and worse, and they got nowhere. 14 So they cried out to the Lord, “O Lord, we pray, don’t punish us with death for taking this man’s life! You, O Lord, are responsible for all this; it is your doing.” 15 Then they picked Jonah up and threw him into the sea, and it calmed down at once. 16 This made the sailors so afraid of the Lord that they offered a sacrifice and promised to serve him.
Luke 8:22-25 (New Testament)
22 One day Jesus got into a boat with his disciples and said to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So they started out. 23 As they were sailing, Jesus fell asleep. Suddenly a strong wind blew down on the lake, and the boat began to fill with water, so that they were all in great danger. 24 The disciples went to Jesus and woke him up, saying, “Master, Master! We are about to die!”
Jesus got up and gave an order to the wind and the stormy water; they died down, and there was a great calm. 25 Then he said to the disciples, “Where is your faith?”
But they were amazed and afraid, and said to one another, “Who is this man? He gives orders to the winds and waves, and they obey him!”
Add Matthew 14:33 (New Testament)
Then the disciples in the boat worshipped Jesus. “Truly you are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.
From the Old and New Testament, this is what is eye catching:
I. Just as Jonah was so confident of his security even that he was sleeping in a boat being taken apart by a storm, the same way Jesus was asleep even as the boat was endanger of sinking, these were both persons of great faith.
II. It was God who calmed the storm when Jonah was out of the boat, which was taking him in the opposite direction of God purpose, in the same way the records of Luke and Matthew reveal Jesus as the person who calmed the storm and so identity of God is revealed in Jesus even as we see the sailors with Jonah worship the God of Jonah and the disciples in the boat worship Jesus.
We thus see the New Testament being God’s unfolding revelation of many things including His identity, all being sourced from the Old Testament.
2. To continue from the scripture from Jonah 1, the story goes like this Jonah after being thrown into the sea is swallowed by a fish and remains there for 3 day and 3 nights. Jonah miraculously does not die & this is a small part of Jonah prayer.
5 The water came over me and choked me;
the sea covered me completely,
and seaweed was wrapped round my head.
6 I went down to the very roots of the mountains,
into the land whose gates lock shut for ever. (A reference to the world of the dead).
But you, O Lord my God,
brought me back from the depths alive.
7 When I felt my life slipping away,
then, O Lord, I prayed to you,
and in your holy Temple you heard me.
Now let us check the reference Jesus made about Himself in the case of Jonah.
Luke 11:29 (Jesus’ word)
29 As the people crowded round Jesus, he went on to say, “How evil are the people of this day! They ask for a miracle, but none will be given them except the miracle of Jonah. 30 In the same way that the prophet Jonah was a sign for the people of Nineveh, so the Son of Man will be a sign for the people of this day
Mat 12:40 (Jesus’ word)
40 In the same way that Jonah spent three days and nights in the big fish, so will the Son of Man spend three days and nights in the depths of the earth.
There is a need to note here that Jonah by himself did no miracle, his life was that of service to preach repentance to a people called by God, in the case of Jonah the people were those of Nineveh. So you see Jonah bringing Nineveh back to God is shadow of the fullness in Jesus bringing all creation to God (Colossians 1:20) & for an unbeliever today, the stone in his shoe while he walks in unbelief of Jesus will till today be the death of Jesus on the cross, spending 3 days & nights in a tomb and rising to life. This is like a thorn for unbelief for being reconciled to God is something that keeps rolling in a person’s head till he accepts the Salvation in Jesus with a sigh of relief.
20 Through the Son, then, God decided to bring the whole universe back to himself. God made peace through his Son’s blood on the cross and so brought back to himself all things, both on earth and in heaven.
3. It is important to note here that just as a shadow is sometimes distorted in a way as how light may falls on an object or may be because of an uneven surface on which the shadow may be cast in the same way the profits were far from perfect, they have been known to wriggle out of the task that is set upon them and their dealing with people were not reflective of the goodness of God but rather the nature of the people (uneven surface) they are dealing with. Jesus on the other hand is He in whose image we have the shadow, being a substitute for sin for all God’s people, death was cast upon Him, His nature of acceptance of His Father’s will in meekness surpassed the human nature of pride mixed with fear of the prophets. Would you like me to give you a classic example of the human tendencies of the prophets? Let’s read from the book of Jonah itself; this scripture comes to happen as Nineveh takes seriously to repentance, they are reconciled to God but Jonah is not happy.
1 Jonah was very unhappy about this and became angry. 2 So he prayed, “Lord, didn’t I say before I left home that this is just what you would do? That’s why I did my best to run away to Spain! I knew that you are a loving and merciful God, always patient, always kind, and always ready to change your mind and not punish. 3 Now, Lord, let me die. I am better off dead than alive.”
4 The Lord answered, “What right have you to be angry?”
5 Jonah went out east of the city and sat down. He made a shelter for himself and sat in its shade, waiting to see what would happen to Nineveh. 6 Then the Lord God made a plant grow up over Jonah to give him some shade, so that he would be more comfortable. Jonah was extremely pleased with the plant. 7 But at dawn the next day, at God’s command, a worm attacked the plant, and it died. 8 After the sun had risen, God sent a hot east wind, and Jonah was about to faint from the heat of the sun beating down on his head. So he wished he were dead. “I am better off dead than alive,” he said.
9 But God said to him, “What right have you to be angry about the plant?”
Jonah replied, “I have every right to be angry — angry enough to die!”
10 The Lord said to him, “This plant grew up in one night and disappeared the next; you didn’t do anything for it, and you didn’t make it grow — yet you feel sorry for it! 11 How much more, then, should I have pity on Nineveh, that great city. After all, it has more than 120,000 innocent children in it, as well as many animals!”
From the above scripture we can see the vague nature of Jonah, he felt sorry for the plant that shaded him when it was attacked and destroyed by the worm at dawn the next day. Jonah did nothing to make the plant grow or die but still he felt sorry, God was thus trying to teach Jonah that till then He had not given Nineveh the privilege of being a people of God but still they repented, when a message of repentance was brought to them & so instead of letting death get the better of them, God chose to forgive them & add their sin to the cross He would bear being all-knowing (Omniscient). After all Nineveh was filled with many innocent children and had many animals too, yeah God does care for all His creation.