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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Jonah III: On Parable

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?

1 comment:

  1. You pose many good items to reflect on and thank you for providing your thoughts and insights into Jonah. I love this book and never get tired of reading or studying as I seem to glean new things each time I visit. I feel there are so many things the book touches on some you have mentioned. One thing I have come to learn is the message God is trying to provide is that salvation belongs to God not to us and we should not question God and his love. We can not fanthom his love for us as we are sinners and cannot understand how God can love everyone, everyone yes including our worst enemies. It preaches God's vocation for us to spread his word to all nations. Jonah ran from God because he knew God, he hated the Ninivites and knew God's nature of a loving God and knew God would forgive the Ninivites if they repented and did not want them to be forgiven. Then there is the nugget at the end when Jonah got mad at God after God provided shade for him and then took it away. Jonah did nothing for this as it was God who provided this yet Jonah expected it as his right even though he did nothing to earn it. This is great insight into God's grace, we don't earn it yet we think it is entitled to us.