Yesterday I said Jonah may in fact be a parable. That worries some people. The word parable seems to imply "not true." I want to say a few things about that.
1. The story of Jonah may be straight history. Perhaps we are getting all facts. Even if we are, the story is short (read it in fifteen minutes!) and covers very little of all the actual events. So if it is facts, it is darn few facts about events stretching over many days.
2. The story may be based on historical events, but the writer has chosen to shape the story to make a point (which I wrote about yesterday). The author is emphasizing certain aspects for a reason. That is true of any story. We leave out details because we have to. We tell teh story to communicate our points.
3. The story may be a parable based on a historical event or person. Today many movies begin with the words "inspired by an actual event." When we see that we know that there is a mix of fiction and history. A parable has a point to make. Facts and Truth co-exist in a parable. When Jesus tells the parable of the man sowing seeds I believe He pointed to an actual farmer. I think as the farmer was throwing seeds Jesus used him as an example, told his parable, and led folks to understand how God works in the world. But seriously, folks, how many of us would be upset to know that Jesus just told the story with no reference to anyone? Who wants to engage in arguments about that?
I want to hear God, encounter God, love and serve my Father in heaven. The Bible is inspired and contains information about our relationship. Jesus points to Jonah and makes a connection to His impending resurrection. That is amazing!
I think the story of Jonah, be it parable, history or something inbetween, has a huge impact on how I understand God's saving will and my own vocation. It is a type (Example) of the resurrection. It is an exhortation to go into the world to the "least, last, lost"! So who has God sent you (and me) to preach repentance to today?