On Sunday, I talked about the humor of Jonah. When you read the book, you can’t help but laugh at Jonah. Literary and biblical scholar (and beloved professor of mine) Leland Ryken categorizes the genre of the book as a satire, which he defines as the exposure (through ridicule or rebuke) of human vice and folly.
In the character of Jonah, we definitely see folly. Jonah tries to run away from the presence of an omnipresent God. He’s sleeping through a fatal storm while aboard the ship to Tarshish. He whines to God when Nineveh is saved. He wants to die because a plant withers. He is a ridiculous figure.
It’s important, though, that we also recognize Jonah’s vice. Jonah isn’t just a slapstick stooge–he has a warped view of himself, of God, and of salvation. He thinks he has the market cornered on grace. He would rather see 120,000 people (and also much cattle) destroyed than saved.
The book of Jonah doesn’t just expose our silly tendency to chase our own desires. It exposes the difficult truth that we often believe salvation is ours to dispense or withhold. Our series will continue to focus on ways that we can speak with a prophet’s voice, remembering that the prophet’s role is to call all people back to God.