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Scripture Reading on Sunday Mornings

Scott Maxwell May 30, 2018

Scripture Reading on Sunday Mornings

To help us better understand the Minor Prophets which we are reading through on Sunday mornings, I have provided some excerpts from “The World and the Word – An Introduction to the Old Testament” (by Merrill, Rooker, and Grisanti).  These are only portions from the book, but I hope they help you grasp the setting and message of each Minor Prophet.  The more you can invest in these important books of the Bible outside of Sunday mornings, the more you will gain from them as we read them in our worship service on Sundays.  Enjoy!

The Book of Jonah

Background
“The book of Jonah is distinctive among the OT prophetic books in that it does not have a collection of the prophet’s oracles.  Instead it records the experience of the prophet Jonah in his mission to Nineveh.  Hence the book of Jonah actually bears a closer resemblance to the narrative accounts pertaining to the prophets Elijah and Elisha in 1 and 2 Kings, who like Jonah witnessed supernatural events during the course of their prophetic ministry.”  p 445

“Jonah was a prophet of the northern kingdom from the tribe of Zebulun who lived at Gath-hepher near Nazareth (2 Kgs 14:25).  He prophesied during the reign of Jeroboam II (793-753 BC), a period of unparalleled prosperity throughout the land of Israel.”  p 445

Concerning the Message of the Book
“. . . The pagan sailors’ reaction to the storm contrasts with Jonah’s.  The sailors were doing all they could to keep from throwing Jonah overboard, whereas Jonah apparently could care less what happened to him or the sailors.  Jonah slept during the storm while the pagans prayed.  Jonah cited a creed, which reflected a heartless orthodoxy and claimed to fear God, which was belied by his actions (1:9).  The pagans, however, demonstrated a genuine fear of the Lord and vowed to make sacrifices in response. . . God had saved Jonah despite his sin (chaps. 1-2), and now Jonah wanted to stand in the way of the Ninevites being saved even though they repented (chaps. 3-4).  Jonah’s anger occurred precisely when God turned away His wrath.  Jonah was unrepentant despite God’s efforts, whereas the heathen repented with virtually no provocation.”  pp 450-51

The Theology of the Book
“The book closes with a question for the audience, leaving the reader with a challenge:  ‘Do you want to adapt God’s or Jonah’s viewpoint on showing compassion for those outside the covenant community?’  The book exhorts the Israelites to disassociate themselves from a narrow nationalism, which excluded other peoples, and to be mindful of their calling to bless all families of the earth (Gen 12:3) and to be a light to the Gentile world (Isa 42:6).” p 451

“The power and sovereignty of God is also central to understanding the book of Jonah.  God controls the forces of nature as He hurled a violent storm on the sea (1:4) and then caused it to rest when Jonah was thrown overboard (1:15).  He prepared the great fish not only to swallow Jonah but also to deposit him on the dry ground to renew his mission (1:17; 2:10).  God provided a plant overnight, appointed a worm to destroy it, and brought a scorching east wind on His prophet (4:6-7).  In fact everything in the book obeyed God, except his prophet!”  p 451

The New Testament and the Book
“For Christians it is of great significance that Jesus Christ applied the account of Jonah within the great fish as an illustration of His own burial, and He viewed the repentance of the Ninevites as an unarguable fact (Matt 12:39-41; Luke 11:29-30).  Interestingly these two incidents that modern scholars have the most trouble accepting are the very events from the book that were affirmed by Jesus Christ.”  p 447