JESUS, JONAH AND YOU
September 26, 2005
First, it is strongly suggested, READ JONAH.
For a much more extensive treatment of this topic use this HYPERLINK.
I Jonah is a type of Christ
This is not of course true in all of his features, or he would BE Christ.
Firstly he is not God in flesh (Philippians 2:1-10, John
10:26-33, 5:19-23, 8:58, Matthew 11:27), secondly, he was an adventurer at one
in active if temporary rebellion against the known will of God,
thirdly he was a sinner,
fourthly, he was not very quick in learning a lesson
which brought vast light to his soul, when he did learn it.
Nevertheless, there were MANY episodes and aspects in his victorious and praiseworthy life of obedience (in the massive main) which so reflect things which evoke the thought of the morals and ways of Christ, that we must consider them.
Before however we proceed, let us recall Christ's
own use of Jonah for illustration, as shown in Matthew 12:38ff..
"Then some of the
scribes and Pharisees answered, saying,
'Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.'
"But He answered and said to
Here we find, with that
which the supernatural need not strain to acquire in incarnation,
¨ the Lord's reference to the actual event of Jonah,
¨ correlative with Solomon's visit from the Queen of Sheba,
¨ and Nineveh's repentance itself, on the one hand,
¨ and with His own coming death right down to the three days and nights.
The latter, for Christ in the analogy, is inclusive of His 'trial', (Psalm 22:1,12-21),
itself filled with false accusation, and betrayal of trust
and nearly as near to hell, as man could make it.
HE too will do what must be done, we see as He speaks of the Cross coming to Him,
and greater is He than those who adorned the pages of history, yet to Him they are leads.
Now praise God, it is done (Hebrews 9:12-28), and what we await is not more, but His return.
It is not as if the men of Nineveh will arise: they WILL.
It is not as if the Queen of Sheba might think of arising in judgment: she WILL.
That is what is written.
That is what is written. What is implied ? that shame will come
from their selfish ignorance of Christ at judgment, who ignore Him or reject,
when these others ignored far less!
Their testimonies will be like arrows of fire.
The texture of history is thus incisively provided by God
from the word of God,
and there is no more room for prevarication in history,
than in judgment:
for indeed what happens in history it is,
which acquires judgment in fitting measure.
In this case, Christ was preparing to BEAR that judgment f
or all who received Him (Isaiah 53:4-6),
who would thus be healed of their iniquity at His most willing expense.
Now we are ready to see Jonah as a type of Christ,
one with instructive preliminary parallels,
before He came.
¨ II Jonah has many facets in this field
Firstly, when he DID rebel in this one episode, fleeing from duty, taking a ship for a destination other than that to which he was specifically directed for godly service; when the storm DID threaten the ship on which he sailed, what was his response when he was asked about any contribution of his own which could have led to this ? It was this: he owned up immediately, and sought to be removed, thrown overboard so that others might live. This was the sort of repentance NOT to be ashamed of (II Corinthians 7:10, cf. Matthew 3:7-8), a change which showed so clearly that it was unmistakable, not mere form but unselfish dedication to the God whose he was (and is), for God is God of the living! So Christ did not fight, or allow others to fight for Him (Matthew 26:52ff., John 18:36), but swiftly allowed them to take Him to what with Him was a vicarious sacrifice for sin.
Secondly, for Jonah, God prepared a great fish (probably a whale-shark, a species reported to be capable of 70 foot lengths, air-breathing and with a compartment much bigger than a man, where it stored unwanted objects that floated into its often open mouth), and in this the prophet was safe, although his experience as noted in Jonah 2, reminded him of hell, the bars of which seemed to enshroud him while he was enclosed in this chamber, in the deep! Such was his chastening. Then it, as by report appears the wont of such creatures, vomited him up nearer the shore in order to be all cleaned up. Being vomited, like sin, is better than staying IN IT!
In this come further parallels to Christ. Thus, Christ too was 'tossed overboard' by those in this world in power in Israel and in Rome. Thirdly, there is the PROVISION for Him, that His Spirit was received into heaven (Acts 3:19-21, I Peter 3:20-21), fourthly, that as I Peter 3:20ff. suggests and the Apostles’ Creed declares, He ‘descended into hell’ so completing a vast universe tour of triumph in which He ‘preached’ to the spirits in prison there (a phrase not used in the Bible of people still living on earth, but like one used of those awaiting judgment in Jude 6, and hence comportable scripturally with such an understanding). There is the thrilling sequence, just as Jonah eventually came and preached to Nineveh. Let us however return to the overboard aspect.
Fifthly is the parallel that He evacuated from this journey, and resurrected, came back to this world for His completion of His testimony as triumphant over death. Jonah, for his part, was neither dead nor resurrected, but he DID come back from what would be like death, like hell, and he did proceed to tell Nineveh of the 40 days they had in which to repent, just as Christ for 40 days taught in the midst of His disciples (Acts 1:3) before returning to His place (in heaven). This is the sixth parallel.
Seventhly, many in Nineveh repented, so that the city was spared for many further years, just as a whole Christian Church repented at the first in Jerusalem and in Judea, with some 40 years left before the city, drunken with unbelief, was destroyed, as Christ had said it would be (Luke 19:42ff., Matthew 24:1ff., 23:37ff.).
Now come the differences, despite this list of parallels, for Jonah like you and me, was a sinner, even if his victorious life was a savoury spirituality in the main. Notice especially that it WAS a victorious life, that he DID do the will of God, of which Christ speaks categorically in Matthew 7:21. As a child of God, FIND AND DO THE WILL OF GOD! We are not our own and it is inconceivable that Christians remain their own, and yet are His (Romans 6-8). That is calling black white. Pardon is free and so is regeneration; and whoever heard of a regenerated pretence! Still, he had to learn much and God chastened him (Hebrews 12). Let us then look at differences for our instruction.
Firstly, he was SORRY that Nineveh was not destroyed, just as Christ wept because He knew that Jerusalem would be (Jonah 4). That is a stark contrary and contrast! Secondly, it was not IN his Nineveh work that he thus failed, but after it; whereas Christ’s triumph was not only in, but even over death, His self-sacrifice being redemption itself (Heb. 9:12-28). Thirdly, he sought to rebut God when He told him of his error, saying yes, he OUGHT to be sorry in losing the protection of the gourd that grew in the heat, when he left, grumpy, from the city. He needed an entire reorganization of thought on the love of God, and God in His teaching mastery, made him realise. But Christ (John 8:29), ALWAYS did what pleased His Father.
Again, fourthly, Jonah paid his fare for fleeing from God in the vessel; but Christ paid OUR fare in NOT fleeing from the Cross! (Matthew 20:28).
is much grace to be gained in this arena.
Firstly, we should be zealous to deliver people, just as Jonah was when the storm raged on the ship: even, if need be, to our own hurt. That is why missionaries frequently die for the love of God, at the hands of those whom they seek to help. ‘Survival’ in this world is the cartoon of the fallen, as unangelic as a dream of indulgence.
As to the prophet's intemperate post-mission emotional explosions attested in Jonah 4:
We by contrast with Jonah on this point, need to be crying with Christ,
Father, FORGIVE them, for they do not know what they are doing;
and still love.
We need no less to realise that Jonah was a real spiritual hero, for if at first he was slow to act, at last he was most courageous and really effective in his proclamation to that mighty, severe and dangerous Empire seat of Nineveh. This teaches us to be fearless for Christ, overcome evil with good, and to be valiant for the truth (Jeremiah 9:3). .
Again, reflect on this part of the report. When Jonah was fleeing at first, he could have allowed the men to risk their lives to the uttermost as they rowed to seek to bring them THROUGH THE STORM; but he cut it short, and in being thrown overboard he became a TYPE of Christ, who was thrown overboard from this world, which has suffered ever since from the lack of a Prince of Peace, with Power and Truth His own companions to the uttermost. Yet HE brought peace in this, to those who received this vicarious action on their behalf, and accepted both it and Him.
Thus we too should cut it short when we are fall into any sinful error, and have it cut out fast with the spiritual scalpel of the word of God, as a doctor cuts a small, budding cancer. We should abort being a needless trial to others, and seek to find the way to bring peace if we can, WITHIN our service to God.
At the same time, like Jonah, we must ensure that we remain UTTERLY CLEAR on the Gospel message to family, friends and others, and in our testimony of obedience to the word of God, lest in seeking to be like others, we become not only unlike Christ, but not even a chip off the block of Jonah! Next time you want to scorn Jonah’s early weakness, or share it, think of these things and be strong in faith, word and deed.
Let God's love send you to your own 'Nineveh', and be as plain when you get there with the Gospel of Christ, which the world does not love, as was Jonah at Nineveh. Love the world and you love death. Love those in it, and seek to bring them to life, where it is, in Jesus Christ according to His own infallible word, by the power of His Spirit and the grace of His mercy.