22 September 2009

Commemoration of Jonah

Today we commemorate Jonah the prophet. From our Synod's website and the Treasury:

A singular prophet among the many in the Old Testament, Jonah the son of Amittai was born about an hour's walk from the town of Nazareth. The focus of his prophetic ministry was the call to preach at Nineveh, the capital of pagan Assyria (Jonah 1:1). His reluctance to respond and God's insistence that his call be heeded is the story of the book that bears Jonah's name. Although the swallowing and disgorging of Jonah by the great fish is the most remembered detail of his life, it is addressed in only three verses of the book (1:17; 2:1, 10). Throughout the book, the important theme is how God deals compassionately sinners. Jonah's three-day sojourn in the belly of the fish is mentioned by Jesus as a sign of his own death, burial, and resurrection (Mt. 12:39–41).

The beautiful collect for this day rejoices that through the prophet Jonah the heavenly Father "continued the prophetic pattern of teaching Your people the true faith and demonstrating through miracles Your presence in creation to heal it of its brokenness." It further asks that the Church may behold in our Lord the final end-times prophet whose miracles continue in God's healing medicine of Word and Sacraments.

There is much to love in Jonah's story and book, but the final line invariably leaves me scratching my head. "And also much cattle"???


Maria said...

Doesn't that last sentence show that God loves his whole creation; also the animals?

Jim said...

"Throughout the book the theme is how God deals compassionately with sinners."

True enough, but I think it's a bit more pointed than that, speaking historically-redemptively: Throughout the book the theme is how God deals compassionately with Gentiles.

Jonah's attitude is ironic in the extreme, for a people created with the promise to be "a blessing to the Gentiles," which Paul takes to be the Gospel itself (Gal 3.8).

christl242 said...

From the ESV:

Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” And he said, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.” 10 And the LORD said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. 11 And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?

Yes, I think that's exactly what it means -- God has compassion over all His Creation. Psalm 104 is a wonderful paen of praise to that.

A proper rebuke to Jonah who is complaining about a plant that he did not create yet fails to show compassion for the people and animals in Nineveh.

I also get a kick out of the King's decree:

but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God.


William Weedon said...

Right up there with Luther's telling us to urge our neighbor's animals to "stay and do their duty." :)

christl242 said...

Right up there with Luther's telling us to urge our neighbor's animals to "stay and do their duty." :)

LOL!! I'm sure Lucy feels that she does hers daily, just by being so darn cute!


Tim said...


... sorry there Pastor Weedon. Couldn't resist. XD

Dan @ Necessary Roughness said...

Maybe it's a Missouri thing, but when an animal "does its duty" we took that to meant it was excreting.

So I would not urge an animal to do its duty, especially if it were in my house!

Jim Huffman said...

In re to "also much cattle":

In Mongolian, the term "cattle" ('mal') stands for all domesticated animals, so one would inquire of a nomad's "cattle," but our nomad friend would understand this to mean camels, goats, the whole panoply. Is that a possibility in Hebrew, in other words, the text meaning "also many animals"?