Jonah and the whale

If you ask a Christian, “What is your favourite book?” They will undoubtedly say the Bible. But is it really a book? It has 60 odd books, written by about 40 different people, in about three different languages over a few hundred years. Most books have a central message, but is not completely clear what that is. Evangelicals will confidently tell you what that message is, but do they have the monopoly on truth? In my opinion, the Bible is 12 different types of book. History, Law, prophecy, music, wisdom, biography, pastoral letters and even apocalyptic vision. My belief is that each book should be put into its proper historical context. What was the culture of the times it was written in? Who wrote it? And who were they writing it to? By stepping back and identifying the underlying principles of the message of the book, and I believe it is best to read a whole book rather than cherry-pick verses, you can get to the message. The principles of that message can be applied to you personally, your relationships, your organisation or even your country. That is my personal opinion and people can treat it as they wish. But in the past, interpretations of the Bible have been imposed on people, when they should be free to interpret it how they feel, with whatever method they choose. It is true that wrong interpretation can be dangerous. But we can end up with a soft tyranny that imposes a doctrinal and ethical code that is as flexible as a train on its tracks. If people are properly educated to think for themselves then maybe a more enlightened view of the Bible will allow people to use it as I believe it was intended.

People laugh at the idea of Jonah being swallowed by the whale, and we start with the premise that great faith allows us to believe that it happened. If you read the book as a whole, then you can start to see that the whole book is a bit fanciful. He gets swallowed by a whale and survives for three days, he converts a whole city to Judaism in a day or so, and they all repent. Nineveh was possibly the largest city in the world and centre of rampaging hordes of Assyrians who were not that far removed from the Daesh in their brutality.

It’s an allegory, it never happened, but it is not a historical or scientific document it’s a message. Like any good sci-fi film or book it is saying something about life, through another context. The message is if God asks you to do something, Job made all the mistakes. He runs away, he wants to die, he resents the people repenting, and he sits greeting and crying at his misfortune. What a total numpty. For me if God asks you to do something you do it. If you serve him you are his soldier and you obey orders. You are not doing it for your own reasons, you are not going to know about or control the results. The important thing is to recognise his voice and obey in faith. If you have read the Bible then will get a sense of how she/he works.

If you serve God, no one else can tell you what to do until you win. There can be no self and no surrender. If you are wrong, it is your fault and you suffer accordingly.

The Church can instruct you how to use the Bible, and maybe the role of the Church is to do just that. But if you want to go out in the real world, then your belief structure, your moral code, your goals are yours. No one can take it away from you, because there is no proof of anything in this world, there is only faith right or wrong. Its how you do it, not what you do that matters. Getting the hierarchy of God, you, the church in proper perspective is the start.

Jonah had clearly a long way to go. But according to the story, God still succeeded despite him being a complete eejit.

Now I am sure that a lot of people resent the Bible, maybe because of interpretations imposed on them in the past. But I believe anyone, Christian or not, can benefit from reading it. If you act on faith and you mess up, don’t give up, and get better. It’s an iterative process, it’s your life, live it.

If you do serve God, be the best you can, stop being dependent on God for every little detail, because there are loads of bampot’s like Jonah that could do with God’s help.

This world is dying. If you want it to live, discover your role and win by all means necessary.

Conway-Laird (2017)  

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