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Faith Filled Friday: Jonah and the Gourd

June 7, 2019

Back on 2/5/2016, I planned to write a 3-part blog on Jonah. I did Part 1 and promptly forgot about it. Earlier this week I read the book of Jonah and got a great idea to write about the gourd. I looked in my files for anything else I might have on Jonah and discovered my first story. I decided to do just two parts; this will be the second and final installment.
This is the link for Part 1: Faith Filled Friday: Part 1: JONAH’S NO

Jonah is a short book with only four chapters. In review, God told Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach to them about their wickedness. He did not want to do that and decided to go to Tarshish, which is in the opposite direction (the south of Spain). He had to go to Joppa to get a ship to Tarshish.
The Lord sent a great wind that made rowing difficult and tossed the ship about. The mariners asked everyone on board to pray to their gods. They lightened the boat which did not help. The shipmaster found Jonah in the sides of the ship, fast asleep. He woke him and told him to pray to his God.
The crew cast lots. The explanation in my Bible is rather vague. Casting lots was done by mixing small stones in a jar then pulling one out. I’m guessing that whoever pulled out a specific stone was the guilty party. Jonah was It.
The crew asked Jonah about himself and what was going on. Jonah explained. Even though the crew believed Jonah was the cause of their trouble, they did not want to throw him overboard and be guilty of murder. Jonah told them to throw him overboard, but they still tried to get to shore.
They rowed hard, but could not get to land. They prayed to the Lord that they would not perish for Jonah’s sin. They finally threw Jonah into the sea and it ceased its raging. The men feared God, prayed, gave a sacrifice, and made vows.
The Lord made a great fish (Matthew 12:40 uses the word ‘whale’) to swallow Jonah. Most of chapter 2 is Jonah’s prayer while he is in the belly. Jonah referred to it as “the belly of hell.” He was in the fish for 3 days and 3 nights. God talked to the fish and it vomited Jonah onto dry land. Jonah was still three days’ journey from Nineveh. The circumference of the city and surrounding towns was about 60 miles (97 km).
Jonah traveled one day then started preaching. He told the people that in forty days Nineveh would be overthrown. The people believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth. Sackcloth, which is a symbol of sorrow and repentance, was a coarse, dark cloth unfit for normal wear. Word reached the king; he arose from his throne and put his robe aside, putting on sackcloth also. He sat in ashes, which was a sign of helplessness and despair.
God decided to not destroy Nineveh since the people turned from their evil way. Jonah was exceedingly displeased and very angry. He argued with God, telling him that he knew he was a loving God and would forgive the people. He asked the Lord to take his life. In chapter 4, verse 4, God simply asks, “Doest thou well to be angry?”
Jonah went out of the city and sat on the east side. He made a shady area for himself, planning to watch for the destruction of Nineveh.
God made a gourd to come up over Jonah to provide shade and deliver him from his grief. Jonah was glad for the gourd.
In the early morning, God prepared a worm that smote the gourd causing it to wither. Next, God sent a vehement east wind, which was known for its scorching heat. The sun beat upon Jonah’s head; he fainted and wished himself dead.
The Lord asked Jonah again if he should be angry. The gourd was an object lesson. If Jonah was justified in being so upset about the loss of a plant to whose existence he had contributed nothing, was not God justified in showing love and concern for the people of Nineveh, whom He had created?
God added “and also much cattle?” The Bible comment says this was a final touch of irony, as if to say, “Jonah, even if you approve of the destruction of hundreds of thousands of people, think of the waste of livestock that would be involved!”

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