Tuesday

11 September 2018

Jonah 2:1-10

Then I said, ‘I am driven away from your sight; how shall I look again upon your holy temple?’ (v. 4)

Psalm: Psalm 135:15-21

Background

In Genesis 8:8f, Noah sends out a dove three times to find out if the floods are receding and there is dry land to be found. In today’s reading we find Jonah (whose name means ‘dove’) finally decides to pray, it is just that he has waited until he’s been thrown into the sea and found a most unusual place of safety. The prayer, however, is still a little ambiguous. God is blamed for casting Jonah into the deep and he even complains that he has been “driven from your sight” and wants to see the holy temple again in v. 4. Considering he has been trying to run from God, this seems a little much. What is more, nowhere in this prayer does Jonah ask for forgiveness. Perhaps this prayer is not meant to be a perfect prayer but a continuation of Jonah’s struggle.

We already know from the previous chapter that Jonah will be in the belly of the fish for “three days and three nights”. According to Hosea, when the people of God turn back to God, God will raise them up and make them whole again on the third day (Hosea 6:1-12). In the New Testament, this will be used as a prophecy of Jesus who will be “in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights” (Matthew 12:40)

At the end of the three days and three nights, Jonah will hear the word of the Lord once again and will respond very differently. Could it be that this re-telling of his own story in prayer (however imperfectly) is a vital part of Jonah becoming ready to listen to what God is saying?

 

To Ponder

  • Have you ever blamed God (or other people) for a problem you caused, or to which you contributed? Why?
  • How would you write your own story in the form of a prayer, using Jonah as a model?

Bible notes author

The Revd Judith Rossall

Judith Rossall is a Methodist tutor at Queen's Foundation in Birmingham. Before moving to Queen's, she was a circuit minister and taught at STETS in Salisbury.