It is often been quoted,
“This is the tragedy of the book of Jonah, that a book which has made the means of one of the most sublime revelations of truth in the Old Testament should be known to most only for its connections with a whale.” G.A. Smith
As we begin this new series on the book of Jonah, I want to offer some introduction as to why we should study Jonah. For some, it is an all too familiar story. And that might be a very good reason to study it, because once a thing becomes too familiar it may loose it’s weight. Or more likely, we typically become arrogant and disillusioned about how much we think we understand about that too familiar thing. This happens to me allot. Sometimes I am confident about my getting something that I think I can sort skim over it – until my 5 year old asks me to explain it and I realize how completely lost I really am. So – if you think Jonah is familiar – you may be in for a surprise. Indeed I truly hope that you are. For most people, however, Jonah is a children’s story about a great fish that ate a man for disobeying God. And — the conclusion of the matter is – you better obey God or you’ll be eaten. Honestly, for most of my life I lived my life with that assumption. I honestly believed that if I didn’t obey God then he would send a storm, a fish, a tree, or a worm in order to make me miserable until I obeyed him. Only for me it was more like a speeding ticket, a broken transmission, or or a broken heart.
Others will tell you the book of Jonah is about a bad prophet, and so it serves as an example of what not to do. Don’t be like Jonah – and you probably shouldn’t name your kids Jonah because Jonah is bad. Don’t be bad! Actually, there are many ways that this book could be taught. We could go in a number of different directions. I’m thinking we should go in the direction that you need to try harder, and do better, and be gooder because if you don’t the air conditioner in your home is going to be eaten by a large worm. Anybody want to study that for 6 weeks?
No, I agree with the quote I read earlier. That the book of Jonah is one of the most sublime revelations of TRUTH in the Old Testament. And what I think this author means by the word sublime is that the entire book of Jonah is about the Gospel. It is about Jesus. It is about Grace. And as you might have noticed from the title – it is about deep grace. The depths of God’s grace. In fact many authors and pastors have entitled this book “The Gospel according to Jonah”.
So – it is my hope that these next 6 weeks will give you a fresh perspective on a very familiar story that will move you to worship the God who is in hot pursuit after sinners and rebels like you and me.