Daily Bible Reading for October 3, 2014, with Commentary: Jonah
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Author: Jonah, a prophet
Date: 800-750 BC
Context: The story of Jonah is familiar to many. Jonah does not want to do as the Lord instructs and flees in the opposite direction by boat. But the Lord sends a terrible storm. Jonah, knowing the storm is from the Lord, instructions the crew on the ship to throw him overboard. Jonah is then swallowed by a great fish and delivered safely to his destination, Ninevehm where he delivers God’s message. The people repent and the Lord turns away his anger. This, however, makes Jonah angry. One reason for his anger (and a reason for why he did not want to come to city in the first place), is that Jonah does not like the Ninevites and wanted to see them destroyed. The Assyrian army (Nineveh was part of the Assyrian Empire) was known as an extremely brutal army. Perhaps Jonah thought that their destructions would save others lives. Jonah also did not believe that the Ninevites’ repentance was genuine. Jonah went outside of the city to wait and watch for the city to fall back into sin. He wanted to witness their destruction. God, however, loves the lost. God rejoices when those who are lost turn to Him. No matter how much we dislike someone, God wants us to learn to love them. Jonah knew and understood that the Lord God is a God full of compassion and love, yet it took a physical example for Jonah to learn that he too must come to show compassion and love to those who are lost.
World History: Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian Empire and a great city that would take three days (according to secular and Biblical history) to walk through to deliver a message, such as Jonah did. Although many people attribute the great fish in this story to a whale, we are not told what type of fish it is. There is a possibility that such a fish was created by the Lord for this specific purpose, as noted in 1:17.