Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"
Scholars who study the book of Jonah agree that the prophet of the Lord was mixed up in his thinking. He didn’t sense an evangelistic duty toward the souls in Nineveh for whom Christ had given His blood. He had rejected the Lord’s call to ministry, ran the other way. It becomes evident that the root of his problem was deep. Jonah had actually rejected the New Covenant truths that the Lord had articulated to Abraham in Genesis 12. The Lord had promised the descendants of Abraham, Israel in fact, that “you shall be a blessing ... and in you all families of the earth shall be blessed” (vss. 2, 3). That had to include the people of Nineveh!
If Jonah had believed that most precious New Covenant truth, his heart would have thrilled with delight at the call of God to “arise, go to Nineveh.” He was to become the greatest evangelist of all time--converting an entire city of heavy population. The Lord was choosing him to demonstrate His promise to make him to be a “blessing.” If the Lord had truly “sent” him, would He not sustain him? Yes, of course.
We wonder whether Jonah’s experience of repentance in the belly of the great fish really reconciled his heart to the New Covenant promises God had made to his “father” Abraham. When God finally spared the city from its deserved destruction he was still mired in Old Covenant thinking. Abraham understood the agape-love character of God, for he had “rejoiced to see My day, … and was glad,” said Jesus (John 8:56).
Why then could it be possible that an inspired prophet of the Lord, called to great city evangelism, couldn’t understand the New Covenant? Could it be that Jonah was the heir of a vast Old Covenant mind-set that had permeated God’s true people during the centuries that followed Mt. Sinai?
And could it be that true people of God, as sincere and devoted as the “repentant” Jonah was, could even today unwittingly be saddled by Old Covenant patterns of heart attitude?
Jesus said something about their feeling “rich and increased with goods” when in fact the opposite was true.
--Robert J. Wieland
From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: November 2, 2003.
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