Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"God Provided" - Jonah and God's Sovereignty

The book of Jonah is pretty fascinating stuff. Its theology of grace is as good as any New Testament parable of Jesus, and the fact that it is true only makes the story more compelling. But it's also interesting to look at it as a literary product and see some of the features of the way its author has chosen to write it.

One of the most obvious features of the story is it's emphasis on God's sovereign provision and rule, which is underlined with the words "God sent" or "God provided." Here's a list of the things God gave to Jonah:
  1. His commission to go to Nineveh, given by "the Word of the Lord" (v. 1:1)
  2. A violent storm that got fiercer when he and the sailors tried to escape (v. 1:4, 11, 13)
  3. A fish that swallowed Jonah for 3 days and nights (v. 1:17)
  4. A command to the fish that it vomit Jonah out, which was obeyed (v. 2:10)
  5. A 2nd commission to go to Nineveh, also given by "the Word of the Lord" (v. 3:1-2)
  6. A plant that shaded (v. 4:6)
  7. A worm that ate the plant (v. 4:7)
  8. A scorching wind that withered the plant (v. 4:8)
What is fascinating to me about this list is the fact that many of the things on it were not received as indicators of God's sovereign care and love. Nevertheless, they were given by God, and given for Jonah's good rather than his harm. Which reminds me that many of the things in my life which aren't terribly fun are nevertheless gifts from God which are given me for my good, amen?

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