Common in children’s Sunday School classes, the story of Jonah gets far less mention than it really deserves. Not only was Jonah a prophet, he was born very close to the birthplace of Jesus Christ, and was for all intensive purposes, not an active part of this world for three days, much like Christ. It’s also important to note that Jonah translates to “dove” which is the form that Christ took when ascending to heaven. These parallels make the importance of this story very obvious. Furthermore, Muhammad himself said that he and Jonah were “brothers” as all prophets are to be considered equal.
“Jonah and the whale” is an important story not because of the story of Jonah and Jonah himself, but because of the story of Nineveh, the city that Jonah was to deliver a message to. If you don’t remember the story of Jonah, here’s a brief refresher:
Jonah, a prophet, was the son of Amittai of Gath-hepher, a city a few miles from Nazareth, the birthplace of the greatest prophet, Jesus Christ. Jonah was commanded by God to deliver a message to the city of Nineveh, a wicked and sinful city much like Sodom, that if they did not turn from their wicked ways and repent they were to be destroyed in 40 days. Jonah was so overwhelmed by this command that he fled and boarded a ship. However, because of stormy weather the men aboard the ship began throwing things overboard to remain afloat, ultimately Jonah was thrown over because of his bad luck and the storm ceased. Jonah was swallowed by a fish and stayed inside of its body for three days praying and repenting for fleeing. God had Jonah released from the fish and he went to Nineveh to fulfill his mission. Upon hearing his message, the people of Nineveh turned from their ways and repented:
1 Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.” 3 Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it. 4 Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” 5 The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. 6 When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. 7 This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. 8 But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. 9 Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.” 10 When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.
It’s important to note that not only did the people repent, the king himself put on a sackcloth and repented. This is because Nineveh had become a nation corrupt to the core; not only were its citizens hateful and oppressive to each other, its government and entire social system was built on greed and oppression which it imperialistically exported to other nations. The Hebrew Bible book of Nahum describes the sins of Nineveh:
Woe to the city of blood, full of lies, full of plunder, never without victims! 2 The crack of whips, the clatter of wheels, galloping horses and jolting chariots. 3 Charging cavalry, flashing swords and glittering spears! Many casualties, piles of dead, bodies without number, people stumbling over the corpses — 4 all because of the wanton lust of a prostitute, alluring, the mistress of sorceries, who enslaved nations by her prostitution and peoples by her witchcraft.
The relevance that the story of Nineveh has to today should be quite obvious; our entire world is out of balance and has become a world filled with hate, violence, and oppression. The United States is now a prime example of a greedy, corrupt, and oppressive government system that is in bed with an even more self obsessed and oppressive society, and we have exported our distorted values around the globe under the guise of “social advancement” and modernization. There is no denying the benefits and protections that a modern democracy and technology can provide, but how does anyone think that we know what is right for the world when our own legal and social system has a deeply ingrained caste system that is only getting worse with initiatives like the recently leaked “Religious Freedom Executive Order” explicitly limiting the basic human rights of already socially disenfranchised minorities? It is undeniable that LGBTIQ people have more legal rights and protections in the USA than many countries, but it is also undeniable that LGBTIQ people are still some of the most disenfranchised persons in this country both politically and socially. We have created a system where it is acceptable to hate anyone so long as such hatred can be justified by “religious doctrine.”
It is this “religious doctrine,” rooted in hate, that is spreading virulently around the globe. Advocating the government sanctioned murder of innocent people because you have distorted Scripture to push an oppressive, bigoted, and hateful political agenda is not acting on Christian values; I’m speaking to you, Scott Lively, and the host of other “Christian leaders” that claim that any advancements in LGBTIQ rights will result in “the death of the American family.” I believe that the “American family” is already dead, and it’s not the LGBTIQ community that killed it – the church did.
Growing up in Georgia, USA, I was exposed to the gamut of both religious and non-religious zealots of all leanings but none were more prevalent than the local mega-church that demanded all members with LGBT children to kick them out or no longer be welcome with their religious congregation. My best friend was a victim of this doctrine like too many other children in this country. His parents abandoned him at 16 and he went on a rapid downward spiral that resulted in his premature death at the age of 20. The church that expelled him wouldn’t hold his funeral as he died a “practicing homosexual.” This doctrine of hatred for the American family and innocent children has to stop! Simply because a child may exhibit signs of or identify as a non-heterosexual does not mean that they are currently or ever have been sexually active in any sense, it means that they, like their heterosexually identified friends acknowledge their sexual orientation. Furthermore, it appalls me that even a fragment of our society (especially the religious righteous) would find any reason for abandoning and neglecting a child acceptable. Where are the advocates of the children? Who is calling social services, or better yet the police, when LGBTIQ teenagers are being abandoned and left to their own devices, normally prostitution and drug running, to provide for their most basic needs before even finishing high school?
Galations 5:14: For all the law is fulfilled in one word, [even] in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Are you living the law of new life?