here is a paper i wrote for my old testament class. enjoy! also here is a picture of my new bangs!
Jonah is a man, a prophet, who lived around the time of around 788 B.C. Although he was a highly respected Hebrew and prophet of the Lord, Jonah was very much an average person. While it may be hard to imagine what life would have been like around 788 B.C., it is really easy to understand the way Jonah felt about the city of Nineveh.
To Jonah, the city of Nineveh did not deserve to repent and be saved from destruction. At the time, he probably would have gone anywhere but Nineveh. In fact, he decided to flee to Tarshish to escape the Lord’s commandment to call Nineveh to repentance. C.F. Keil and F.Delitzsh give a little insight into the life in Israel during the time of Jonah. They said,
“...It was very natural for the self-righteous mind of Israel to regard the Gentiles as simple enemies of the people and kingdom of God, and not only to deny their capacity for salvation, but also to interpret the prophetic announcement of the judgment coming upon the Gentiles as signifying that they were destined to utter destruction...The attitude of Israel towards the design of God to show mercy to the Gentiles and grant them salvation, is depicted in the way that Jonah acts, when he receives the divine commandment, and when he goes to carry it out. Jonah tries to escape from the command to proclaim the word of God in Nineveh by flight to Tarshish, because he is displeased with the dispel of divine mercy to the great heathen world...”
As I was learning more and more about Jonah, I compared him to people of the present day. It seems that sometimes we have the attitude as the Israelites, almost as if God doesn’t really love you unless you are a Christian. That is so incredibly false. God loves every single person on this earth. Everyone. God loves Jews, Muslims, atheists, Mormons, teachers, doctors, taxi cab drivers, people of Las Vegas, He loves every single one of us. We are all sinners in this world. It’s evident, though, that He loves all of His children in so many ways, but concerning the story of Jonah we know He loves everyone when He extends His mercy upon even the wicked people of Nineveh.
Because Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh, the Lord decided to, let’s say, humble him in a very unique way. Jonah was swallowed by a giant whale. He stayed in the belly of the giant whale for three nights. After Jonah was released from the whale he declared repentance over the people of Nineveh. Because the Lord loved them very much, the once wicked Assyrian city was saved from destruction.
The Old Testament Student Manual explains the symbolism behind Jonah’s experiences. “Jonah, in his extremity, finally turned back to God. His prayer was one of sincere and meaningful repentance. His use of hell adds to the parallels with Christ’s burial.” The manual also says, “The story of Jonah was referred to by our Lord on two occasions when he was asked for a sign from heaven. In each case, he gave ‘the sign of the prophet Jonah,’ the event in that prophet’s life being a foreshadowing of Jesus’ own death and resurrection.” Because the Savior Himself used the examples of Jonah being in the belly of the whale, we know that this story is not just a parable, but it actually occurred.
The story of Jonah fascinates me. The idea of a man being inside of a whale seems very much like a fairytale. But, I have a testimony that it is not. While studying out the story of Jonah, I have grown a deeper understanding and testimony of the reality of this famous Old Testament story. As I learned more about the story of Jonah, I couldn’t help but relate the actions and thoughts of Jonah to my own personal life.
At times, it seems like I struggle thinking of people I don’t necessarily get along with as children of God. But, when I do, I tend to see them in a different light. It is evident to me that once I recognize that the Savior loves each and every one of us the exact same, I tend to love a ‘non-friend’ more, even if it is just a little bit. We are all saved through the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He is our Savior. He is the Savior for the entire world.
Just like Jonah, we may think certain people don’t deserve to see and feel the forgiving powers of the Atonement in their lives; but they do. Everyone deserves to feel the unconditional love of our Savior. Everyone deserves to see the Lord’s tender mercies in their lives. Everyone deserves to feel like a child of God. Although it would be cool to witness, I hope we don’t need to experience being in the belly of the whale to understand Heavenly Father extends His mercy and love upon every single individual on the earth.
Church Educational System. “Old Testament Student Manual : 1 Kings-Malachi”.The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. 2003.
I also watched parts of Jonah, the Veggie Tales movie :)