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Saturday, May 29, 2010

More on Jonah--Mission rather than Fish Story

Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? for the sea was wrought, and was tempestuous. And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: For I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you. Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land: but they could not: for the sea was wrought, and was tempestuous against them. Wherefore they cried unto the LORD and said, We beseech thee, O LORD, we beseech thee, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not upon us innocent blood: for thou, O LORD, has done as it pleased thee. So they took up Jonah and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging. The then men feared the lORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the LORD, and made vows. Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was inthe belly of the fish three days and three nights. (JOnah 1:11-17).

Jonah is here a reluctant missionary. His shipmates determine that he is the cause for their predicament, but instead of precipitously taking matters into their own hands, they ask him. And Jonah, instead of trying to hide, prevaricate, or protect himself, accepts his responsibility and the fate he faces.

This is an important matter in dealing with God. God is to be accepted and approached on His own terms, not on those that we think are proper. Indeed, the sailors, although probably originally Canaanitish in religion, and hence belonging to a nation hateful to God and under his ban, seem to be here recipients of great grace. Before, they called on their own gods. Now, they call on the true God, confessing him to be the one who rules wind and waves when they formerly saw such powers as gods in themselves. Further, after hearing the prophet Jonah, they accept and approach the true God through a sacrifice--presumably a goat or sheep upon reaching dry land. Too many of us think that if we do that which is good in our own eyes without a thought to what God himself desires, God owes us a favor. The sailors who carried Jonah, however, rebuke this attitude with their conversion.

As for Jonah, God is not finished with him. Jonah has shown that he understands that his disobedience to God has put other lives in peril, and he owns his sin before both God and the sailors. But after Jonah is cast into the sea, God sends a special provision in the form of a great fish.

Both the devout and the scoffer waste much breath and more ink in determining whether or not there is a known sea animal, whether whale or fish, that could carry a man inside it. This degenerates Jonah into a mere "fish story". The point, however, is that God may use whichever means he wishes to fulfill his purposes. Originally, God had purposed to have the prophet Jonah warn the Assyrian capital of its impending doom. To get Jonah back on track, he uses the storm and the great fish.

And note how Jonah is like Jesus Christ. His sacrifice leads to the conversion of his shipmates. Certainly Jonah, like all other sinners, was not capable of bearing the sins of others as was Jesus, the sinless one. Yet God gives us here an Old Testament picture of New Testament truth.

I write this confessing myself to be the sort who lets out a stream of angry words when things go wrong. But Jonah is a reminder that danger, frustration, loss, and terrors may be means whereby God returns us to himself. Jonah underwent peril on the sea to get him to return to his God-given mission. But more importantly, these perils won the souls of sailors who were otherwise lost in their false religion.

美国人常常喜欢打鱼。 如果他们抓不到一条鱼,他们说他们没得的鱼是何等大的怪物。这样的故事叫做"fish story". 很多人认为圣经之约拿书也是“鱼故事“。


那些水手大概试腓尼基人,就是迦南族的一部分。迦南族原来位非常凶恶的民族,他们的习惯是把头绳的孩子邵在火里。上帝吩咐以色列民八家男人灭绝,并且警告以色列民他们若跟随迦南人的道路,他们也会遇到灭绝。可是这些水手虽然从那么不好的背景,上帝施恩於他们。海平静了之后,他们向耶和华献上祭物,不再对他们从前所拜的神祈祷。 如此,约拿当作了传教士,领导那些水手认识真正的上帝。同时,在牺牲自己,约拿让他的伙伴认识上帝。如此,他像未来的耶稣基督。

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