Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Reflection - Jesus and Jonah - Jonah's story

Source (book): "God in Pursuit", Chapter 5, Question 1, Page 73.
By Robert M. Solomon, Bishop of the Methodist Church in Singapore from 2000 - 2012


How would you help someone who finds it difficult to believe in the historicity of Jonah's story?
PHOTO: How would you help someone who finds it difficult to believe in the historicity of Jonah's story?
Jonah's journey is believed to have taken place in the earlier part of the eight century BC. Some 800 years later, Jesus would refer to it.

To be swallowed by a fish is an incredible experience. The King James Version uses the term "whale's belly" in Matthew 12:40, which has given rise to the popular idea that Jonah was swallowed by a whale. But the Bible does not say if the fish was indeed a whale. In the text of the book of Jonah, the Hebrew word used is dag, which means big fish or sea monster. And the original text that records Jesus' words in Matthew 12:40 uses the Greek word kētos, or big fish. Most of the other English translations of the Bible do likewise.

Unsurprisingly, some people think that the story of Jonah is just an old moral fable, questioning the idea of a fish swallowing a man whole. But large sea creatures such as sperm whales and great white sharks have been found with whole animals the size of a man or bigger in their stomachs. Therefore, Jonah's experience is not impossible. But would he really have been able to survive such an experience?

Some scholars and apologists have tried to present evidence that the same thing has happened to others. Some cite the case of James Bartley, a sailor, who was supposedly swallowed by a sperm whale in 1891. It was said that he had been found alive in the whale stomach a day later, but subsequent investigations have claimed that the story was untrue. Bible scholars Frank Page and Billy Smith have cautioned that "trying to marshal evidence" for the scientific possibility of the story of Jonah "may in fact result in the denigration (the action of unfairly criticizing someone or something) of the miracle".

Some sceptics believe that the story of Jonah is an allegory (a story that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning) - that the fish represents hell, where all sinners are, and the story shows their need to be rescued from it by Jesus. Others also think that Jonah had actually died in the fish, but was raised to life by God. They cite Jonah's prayer, "deep in the realm of the dead" (Jonah 2:2), as evidence, noting that the Hebrews word used was Sheol, a place for the dead. But this was probably a poetic expression for Jonah's near-death experience; the context of chapter 2 suggests that Jonah was kept alive by God (Jonah 2:1,7).

So how could Jonah have survived in the fish belly for three days? This is not a problem if we remember that God was in the picture. The same God who caused the storm and sent the big fish to swallow Jonah could also keep him alive; God can perform miracles beyond our imagination. We must always bear in mind that Jonah's story can only be fully understood if we remember that God was involved.


Why is it important to know Jesus mentioned the story and applied it to himself?
We must remember that Jesus referred to "the sign of the prophet Jonah" and used it to shed light on His own identity. In doing so, He confirmed the story as authentic. If we say the Jonah story is a myth or metaphor for a spiritual truth, then we would be saying the same about the story of Jesus and His death and resurrection!

Also, by bringing the story of Jonah to our attention, Jesus was highlighting the contribution of Jonah's story to the understanding of God's eternal plan of salvation. In Luke 11:30, Jesus described the runaway prophet as "a sign to the Ninevites". Also will the Son of Man be to this generation. "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." (Matthew 12:40)


How was Jonah a sign to the Nivevites?
Perhaps it was Jonah's amazing story. It is likely that the Ninevites had by this time come to hear of Jonah's strange experience of being swallowed by a large fish and surviving the ordeal. This was a sign that he was a real prophet, preaching a true message from the living God. The Ninevites were convinced not only by Jonah's message, but also by his story of redemption from death.
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How would you help someone who finds it difficult to believe in the historicity of Jonah's story? Why is it important to know Jesus mentioned the story and applied it to himself? How was Jonah a sign to the Nivevites?

How would you help someone who finds it difficult to believe in the historicity of Jonah's story?
[1]
Jonah's journey is believed to have taken place in the earlier part of the eight century BC. Some 800 years later, Jesus would refer to it.

The Lord was ministering in Judea, Galilee, and nearby regions, where He was performing many miracles and teaching with great authority. His rising popularity was a threat to the established religious leaders of His day - the Pharisees, Sadducees, and teachers of the law - as was His penetrating teaching, which exposed their hypocrisy and distortion of the law.


Jesus had flouted their laws, overruled the Pharisees' authority, and exposed the hatred in their hearts to the entire crowd in the synagogue.
PHOTO: Jesus had flouted their laws, overruled the Pharisees' authority, and exposed the hatred in their hearts to the entire crowd in the synagogue. They were so jealous of Jesus' popularity, his miracles, and the authority in his teaching and actions. The Pharisees refused to acknowledge Jesus because they were not willing to give up their treasured position and power.
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https://devotiontoourlady.com/uploads/3/5/2/7/35275079/jesus-denounces-pharisees-07_orig.jpg
https://devotiontoourlady.com/pharisees.html
https://veryfatoldman.blogspot.com/2018/08/reflection-imitating-christ-in-our.html



These men began to challenge His authority. They accused Him of breaking the law by healing people on the Sabbath, and of working with Satan after He delivered those possessed by the demons. Unconvinced by all these miracles, they then demanded of Jesus, "Teacher, we want to see a sign from you" (Matthew 12:38).


The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus.
PHOTO: The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus. They stalked his disciples, criticised his behaviour, condemned His values and conspired to destroy him.
Unconvinced by all these miracles, they then demanded of Jesus,
"Teacher, we want to see a sign from you" (Matthew 12:38).
Picture posted by 888‏@space888between on 19 April 2018 at 4:59 PM
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Jesus, however, knew that the Pharisees were not asking in order to believe, for they had already made up their minds that Jesus was not the Messiah. He knew that they were looking for an opportunity to accuse Him further. So He refused to grant their request, instead saying, "A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah" (Matthew 12:39).



Jesus, however, knew that the Pharisees were not asking in order to believe, for they had already made up their minds that Jesus was not the Messiah.
PHOTO: Jesus, however, knew that the Pharisees were not asking in order to believe, for they had already made up their minds that Jesus was not the Messiah. So He refused to grant their request, instead saying, "A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah" (Matthew 12:39).
Picture posted by Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania

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https://veryfatoldman.blogspot.com/2018/03/reflection-solution-to-worn-out-lives.html
https://veryfatoldman.blogspot.com/2018/08/reflection-imitating-christ-in-our.html



The Sign of Jonah [1]
To be swallowed by a fish is an incredible experience. The King James Version uses the term "whale's belly" in Matthew 12:40, which has given rise to the popular idea that Jonah was swallowed by a whale. But the Bible does not say if the fish was indeed a whale. In the text of the book of Jonah, the Hebrew word used is dag, which means big fish or sea monster. And the original text that records Jesus' words in Matthew 12:40 uses the Greek word kētos, or big fish. Most of the other English translations of the Bible do likewise.


In his dying moments, Jonah remembered that God was never far away
PHOTO: To be swallowed by a fish is an incredible experience. The Bible does not say if the fish was indeed a whale. In the text of the book of Jonah, the Hebrew word used is dag, which means big fish or sea monster. And the original text that records Jesus' words in Matthew 12:40 uses the Greek word kētos, or big fish. Most of the other English translations of the Bible do likewise.
Picture posted by Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

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https://veryfatoldman.blogspot.com/2019/02/reflection-jonah-prays-god-delivers_22.html



Unsurprisingly, some people think that the story of Jonah is just an old moral fable, questioning the idea of a fish swallowing a man whole. But large sea creatures such as sperm whales and great white sharks have been found with whole animals the size of a man or bigger in their stomachs. Therefore, Jonah's experience is not impossible. But would he really have been able to survive such an experience?



Large sea creatures such as sperm whales and great white sharks have been found with whole animals the size of a man or bigger in their stomachs.
PHOTO: Large sea creatures such as sperm whales and great white sharks have been found with whole animals the size of a man or bigger in their stomachs. Therefore, Jonah's experience is not impossible. But would he really have been able to survive such an experience?
Painting by Lindsay Rapp Gallery, posted on 15 February 2018
Picture posted by miifotos.com

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Some scholars and apologists have tried to present evidence that the same thing has happened to others. Some cite the case of James Bartley, a sailor, who was supposedly swallowed by a sperm whale in 1891. It was said that he had been found alive in the whale stomach a day later, but subsequent investigations have claimed that the story was untrue. [21] Bible scholars Frank Page and Billy Smith have cautioned that "trying to marshal evidence" for the scientific possibility of the story of Jonah "may in fact result in the denigration (the action of unfairly criticizing someone or something) of the miracle". [22]

 

Some cite the case of James Bartley, a sailor, who was supposedly swallowed by a sperm whale in 1891.
PHOTO: Some cite the case of James Bartley, a sailor, who was supposedly swallowed by a sperm whale in 1891. It was said that he had been found alive in the whale stomach a day later, but subsequent investigations have claimed that the story was untrue.
"Trying to marshal evidence" for the scientific possibility of the story of Jonah "may in fact result in the denigration (the action of unfairly criticizing someone or something) of the miracle". - Bible scholars Frank Page and Billy Smith
Picture posted by anomalyinfo.com - Illustration of sailor James Bartley being swallowed by a sperm whale, an event that was reported in February 1891.

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http://anomalyinfo.com/Stories/1891-february-james-bartley-modern-jonah



Some sceptics believe that the story of Jonah is an allegory (a story that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning) - that the fish represents hell, [23] where all sinners are, and the story shows their need to be rescued from it by Jesus. Others also think that Jonah had actually died in the fish, but was raised to life by God. They cite Jonah's prayer, "deep in the realm of the dead" (Jonah 2:2), as evidence, noting that the Hebrews word used was Sheol, a place for the dead. But this was probably a poetic expression for Jonah's near-death experience; the context of chapter 2 suggests that Jonah was kept alive by God (Jonah 2:1, 7).



Some sceptics believe that the story of Jonah is an allegory - that the fish represents hell, where all sinners are, and the story shows their need to be rescued from it by Jesus.
PHOTO: Some sceptics believe that the story of Jonah is an allegory - that the fish represents hell, where all sinners are, and the story shows their need to be rescued from it by Jesus. Others also think that Jonah had actually died in the fish, but was raised to life by God. The context of chapter 2 suggests that Jonah was kept alive by God (Jonah 2:1, 7).
Painting by Pierre Mignard - The Holy Trinity
Picture posted by Fr. Kyle Doustou on Friday, 25 May 2018 at 8:48 AM

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So how could Jonah have survived in the fish belly for three days? This is not a problem if we remember that God was in the picture. The same God who caused the storm and sent the big fish to swallow Jonah could also keep him alive; God can perform miracles beyond our imagination. We must always bear in mind that Jonah's story can only be fully understood if we remember that God was involved.

 

So how could Jonah have survived in the fish belly for three days?
PHOTO: So how could Jonah have survived in the fish belly for three days?
The same God who caused the storm and sent the big fish to swallow Jonah could also keep him alive; God can perform miracles beyond our imagination. We must always bear in mind that Jonah's story can only be fully understood if we remember that God was involved.
Photography by Pascal-Jean Rebillat

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Even Christians can become sidetracked by the story of Jonah's fish. The American poet and minister Thomas Carlisle notes that at one time, "I was so obsessed with what was going on inside the whale that I missed seeing the drama inside Jonah." [24]



Christians can become sidetracked by the story of Jonah's fish.

PHOTO: Christians can become sidetracked by the story of Jonah's fish. We were so obsessed with what was going on inside the whale that we missed seeing how Jonah was feeling.
Painting by Edward Knippers - Jonah and the Big Fish, Violent Grace

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Why is it important to know Jesus mentioned the story and applied it to himself?
We must remember that Jesus referred to "the sign of the prophet Jonah" and used it to shed light on His own identity. In doing so, He confirmed the story as authentic. If we say the Jonah story is a myth or metaphor for a spiritual truth, then we would be saying the same about the story of Jesus and His death and resurrection!

Also, by bringing the story of Jonah to our attention, Jesus was highlighting the contribution of Jonah's story to the understanding of God's eternal plan of salvation. In Luke 11:30, Jesus described the runaway prophet as "a sign to the Ninevites". As we know, after Jonah survived his underwater experience, he was sent again to Nineveh to preach God's message, whereupon its people repented. What was it that convinced and convicted the people of Nineveh? Why did they listen to this Israelite preacher who dared to preach against their great city? Why did they not tear him to pieces for his audacity in preaching their destruction?



Understanding of God's eternal plan of salvation (Luke 11:30)
PHOTO: Understanding of God's eternal plan of salvation (Luke 11:30)
Jesus referred to "the sign of the prophet Jonah" and used it to shed light on His own identity. In doing so, He confirmed the story as authentic. If we say the Jonah story is a myth or metaphor for a spiritual truth, then we would be saying the same about the story of Jesus and His death and resurrection!
Picture posted by Jesse Villanueva on 09 March 2017

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https://plus.google.com/photos/photo/113571126196442716106/6395142918863560258


How was Jonah a sign to the Nivevites?
Perhaps it was Jonah's amazing story. It is likely that the Ninevites had by this time come to hear of Jonah's strange experience of being swallowed by a large fish and surviving the ordeal. This was a sign that he was a real prophet, preaching a true message from the living God. The Ninevites were convinced not only by Jonah's message, but also by his story of redemption from death.


The Sign of Jonah
PHOTO: How was Jonah a sign to the Nivevites?
Perhaps it was Jonah's amazing story. It is likely that the Ninevites had by this time come to hear of Jonah's strange experience of being swallowed by a large fish and surviving the ordeal. This was a sign that he was a real prophet, preaching a true message from the living God.
Picture posted by Los Angeles County Museum of Art - Jonah Spat Up by the Whale

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https://veryfatoldman.blogspot.com/2018/12/reflection-god-saves-non-practising.html
https://veryfatoldman.blogspot.com/2019/02/reflection-jonah-prays-god-delivers_22.html



Jesus' listeners now faced a similar question. Would they, following the example of the Ninevites, also recognise the sign of Jesus?



Jesus and the sign of Jonah is relatable in this…Both men were down three days, one in the grave and another in the belly of a fish.
PHOTO: Jesus and the sign of Jonah is relatable in this…Both men were down three days, one in the grave and another in the belly of a fish. Jesus was sent by God to save His people from the bondage of sin and Jonah was sent to a group of pagans known as the Ninevites.
Picture posted by Redemptorist Pastoral Center on Friday, 30 March 2016 at 17:00:49 - The Three Maries at the Empty Sepulchre

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Jesus' listeners now faced a similar question. Would they, following the example of the Ninevites, also recognise the sign of Jesus?
PHOTO: Jesus' listeners now faced a similar question. Would they, following the example of the Ninevites, also recognise the sign of Jesus?
This is not a problem if we remember that God was in the picture. God can perform miracles beyond our imagination. We must always bear in mind that Jesus' story, like Jonah's story can only be fully understood if we remember that God was involved.
Picture posted by Kevinjj_Kennedy, Photobucket (friend of Google Chrome?)

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Dear Lord, thank you for letting us know that the way to help someone who finds it difficult to believe in the historicity of Jonah's story, is by remembering that you are in involved.
PHOTO: Dear Lord, thank you for letting us know that the way to help someone who finds it difficult to believe in the historicity of Jonah's story, is by remembering that you are in involved. You who caused the storm and sent the big fish to swallow Jonah could also keep him alive. You can perform miracles beyond our imagination. Please help us to always bear in mind that Jonah's story can only be fully understood if we remember that you was involved.

We must remember that Jesus referred to "the sign of the prophet Jonah" and used it to shed light on His own identity. In doing so, He confirmed the story as authentic. Also, by bringing the story of Jonah to our attention, Jesus was highlighting the contribution of Jonah's story to the understanding of God's eternal plan of salvation. Jonah is ‘a sign to the Ninevites’ while Jesus is ‘a sign to this generation’.

Perhaps Jonah was a sign to the Nivevites because of his amazing story. They heard of Jonah's strange experience of being swallowed by a large fish and surviving the ordeal. This was a sign that he was a real prophet, preaching a true message from the living God. The Ninevites were convinced not only by Jonah's message, but also by his story of redemption from death.

Through Lord Jesus Christ we pray. Amen!

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Reflection - Jonah Prays, God Delivers - Lessons from troubles and suffering
Question from source (book): "God in Pursuit", Chapter 5, Question 1, Page 73.
By Robert M. Solomon, Bishop of the Methodist Church in Singapore from 2000 - 2012






Also from the same author, Robert M. Solomon

"Faithful to the end", A Preacher's Exposition of 2 Timothy, @ 2014 by Robert M. Solomon


'Faithful to the end', A Preacher's Exposition of 2 Timothy, @ 2014 by Robert M. Solomon<br>
Reflection - Faithful to the end (Links)
https://veryfatoldman.blogspot.com/2017/06/reflection-faithful-to-end-links.html



"Finding rest for the soul" Responding to Jesus' Invitation in Matthew 11:28-29,
© 2016 by Robert M. Solomon

Reflection - Finding rest for the soul (Links)
Reflection - Finding rest for the soul (Links)
https://veryfatoldman.blogspot.com/2018/10/reflection-finding-rest-for-soul-links.html



Reference
[1] From "God in Pursuit" Lessons from the Book of Jonah, Copyright © 2017 by Robert M. Solomon, ISBN 978-1-62707-801-6, Part II: Jonah 2:1-10, Chapter 5 "Jesus and Jonah", Page 63-67.

[21] See Eward B. Davis' interesting article, "A Modern Jonah", Reasons to Believe, 1 December 1991, http://www.reasons.org/articles/a-modern-jonah. (Content Cannot Be Found)
Try: Edward B. Davis*, Associate Professor of Science and History, Messiah College, Grantham, PA 17027, A Whale of a Tale: Fundamentalist Fish Stories, https://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/1991/PSCF12-91Davis.html

[22] Frank Page and Billy K. Smith, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, The New American Commentary, vol. 198 (Nashwille, Tennessee: B&H Publishing Group, 1995), 240.

[23] Jacques Ellul, The Judgement of Jonah (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971), 41.

[24] Cited in James M. Boice, The Minor Prophets (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1983), 1:282.


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