Was Jonah's Heart "far from God"?

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Posts 29
Bruce Prince | Forum Activity | Posted: Tue, Mar 5 2013 11:46 AM

Pastorum 2013 features Dr Mark Futato who presents a segment regarding the significance of Bible words.

In the short sample clip, Dr Futato asks a question concerning the word the writer of Jonah used under inspiration to describe how the big fish managed to put Jonah back onto dry land, and the word is "vomit".

Dr Futato tells his audience that the Holy Spirit could have used any word to describe this particular scenario, but he chose the disgusting word "vomit" to reveal God's attitude (I may not have his words exactly right here) and was a response to Jonah's prayer when his (Jonah's) "heart was far from God".

Jonah's heart was NEVER far from God, and anyone who reads the book of Jonah and understands Jonah's motive for running away and becoming upset, would be well aware of this. 

When we read in Jonah 1.3 that Jonah had received his commission and fled, we note that no reason is given at that point, and many assumptions are made regarding his motive, except the correct one. Then follows the boat trip, being thrown overboard, and being swallowed by a great fish. We read Jonah's prayer, and after the fish vomits Jonah up onto dry land, God once again asks Jonah to go to Nineveh, and Jonah goes, and eventually does what God tells him to do.

The final chapter spells it out for those who care to read into it. The Ninevites have heard Jonah preaching doom and gloom if they continue in their wicked ways, and lo and behold, they repent! All of them! Why did Jonah become angry about this? You see, Jonah 4.2 hasn't recorded the prayer that Jonah prayed when God first gave him this task, and if it had been recorded, we might have gained a glimpse into this heart of Jonah that was so much nearer to God than most hearts today.

Jonah absolutely revered his Lord and God. Jonah was well aware of the wickedness of the people around him and even in distant Nineveh. Jonah had such a passion for God, that this wickedness pained him. If any of us have experienced negative remarks or actions directed toward someone we love and have the highest esteem for, we might have some idea of how Jonah felt when he witnessed so much evil and wickedness directed towards his Lord.

And then God asks Jonah to go to the extremely wicked city of Nineveh, preach to the people, and when they repent, He will forgive them. No way! Jonah knew only too well that God's love and mercy extended to the vilest offender. Those rat-bags don't deserve your love and mercy. See how they continue to spurn and hate you. I won't do this; I'll put as much distance between me and them as possible. And so, Jonah headed down to the port, and took a ship going in the opposite direction.

The latter part of chapter four shows God's love for his faithful servant. God understands why Jonah was angry, and tries to get him to see the situation from a different point of view. Jonah needed to see that God's love and mercy can extend not only to the wicked inhabitants of Nineveh, but even to the animals there.

It is unfortunate that many who read the small book of Jonah come away with the incorrect thoughts that have been expressed by so many. We have a tendency to read books by non-biblical authors, and listen to presentations by people putting across their own point of view, instead of burying ourselves in our own personal Bible study and being shown the right answers. The same mistakes are made when we hear or read about Samson, Mary Magdalene, Mary the sister of Lazarus, Job, and many others. 

The Bible has the truth. If we use that as our text book and bench-mark, we can't go wrong.

Bruce Prince

Posts 103
Mark O'Hearn | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Mar 5 2013 12:03 PM

I believe we understand Jonah in the same manner.  From a message prepared a while ago entitled, "The Problem with Grace," I suggested:

"Do we not often expect, no demand even, God’s goodness in our lives regardless of the condition of our fellowship?  But then comes the command, “Go” – the Lord pities the undeserving – Jonah was finally confronted with the “scandal of grace” – that our God also loves our enemies and wants to see them saved too!

And here lies the problem with grace.  Who are the people you would prefer not to be saved?  People who just do not deserve God’s grace; those who have hurt or deeply offended you; those who sinful lives you think are just beyond redemption.

Perhaps Jonah believed that a spared Nineveh would eventually mean a destroyed Israel, and he would be right in thinking so." 

What a relevant little book about our prejudices towards outsiders.  Thanks for sharing.

Regards

Posts 1649
Room4more | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Mar 5 2013 12:25 PM

I would suggest a study based on Nineveh etc.,etc.

I believe that this might help to capture WHY Jonah ran the other dierction......Just a thought.

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Posts 18857
Rosie Perera | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Mar 5 2013 12:35 PM

The NET Bible has an interesting translator's note regarding this term sometimes translated "far from God" (from Jonah 1:3):

tn Heb “away from the presence of the Lord.” The term מִלִּפְנֵי (millifne, “away from the presence of”) is composed of the preposition לְפָנָי (léfanay, “in front of, before the presence of”) and מִן (min, “away from”). The term מִלִּפְנֵי is used with בָּרַח (barakh, “to flee”) only here in biblical Hebrew so it is difficult to determine its exact meaning (HALOT 942 s.v. פָּנֶה 4.h.ii; see E. Jenni, “ ‘Fliehen’ im akkadischen und im hebräischen Sprachgebrauch,” Or 47 [1978]: 357). The most likely options are: (1) Jonah simply fled from the Lord’s presence manifested in the temple (for mention of the temple elsewhere in Jonah, see 2:5, 8). This is reflected in Jerome’s rendering fugeret in Tharsis a facie Domini (“he fled to Tarshish away from the face/presence of the Lord”). The term מִלִּפְנֵי is used in this sense with יָצָא (yatsa’, “to go out”) to depict someone or something physically leaving the manifested presence of the Lord (Lev 9:24; Num 17:11, 24; cf. Gen 4:16). This is reflected in several English versions: “from the presence of the Lord” (KJV, NKJV, RSV, NRSV, ASV, NASB) and “out of the reach of the Lord” (REB). (2) Jonah was fleeing to a distant place outside the land of Israel (D. Stuart, Hosea-Jonah [WBC], 450). The term לְפָנָי is used in various constructions with מִן to describe locations outside the land of Israel where Yahweh was not worshiped (1 Sam 26:19–20; 2 Kgs 13:23; 17:20, 23; Jer 23:39). This would be the equivalent of a self-imposed exile. (3) The term מִלִּפְנֵי can mean “out of sight” (Gen 23:4, 8), so perhaps Jonah was trying to escape from the Lord’s active awareness—out of the Lord’s sight. The idea would either be an anthropomorphism (standing for a distance out of the sight of God) or it would reflect an inadequate theology of the limited omniscience and presence of God. This is reflected in some English versions: “ran away from the Lord” (NIV), “running away from Yahweh” (NJB), “to get away from the Lord” (NLT), “to escape from the Lord” (NEB) and “to escape” (CEV). (4) The term לְפָנָי can mean “in front of someone in power” (Gen 43:33; HALOT 942 s.v. c.i) and “at the disposal of” a king (Gen 13:9; 24:51; 34:10; 2 Chr 14:6; Jer 40:4; HALOT 942 s.v. 4.f). The expression would be a metonymy: Jonah was trying to escape from his commission (effect) ordered by God (cause). This is reflected in several English versions: “to flee from the Lord’s service” (JPS, NJPS). Jonah confesses in 4:2–3 that he fled to avoid carrying out his commission—lest God relent from judging Nineveh if its populace might repent. But it is also clear in chs. 1–2 that Jonah could not escape from the Lord himself.

Posts 1649
Room4more | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Mar 5 2013 7:23 PM

So Bruce, how is it going on that study of Nineveh? get any good intel from your Logos Library? You may consider the spelling of Ninus.

DISCLAIMER: What you do on YOUR computer is your doing.

Posts 4841
David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Mar 6 2013 10:31 AM

Bruce Prince:

Pastorum 2013 features Dr Mark Futato who presents a segment regarding the significance of Bible words.

In the short sample clip, Dr Futato asks a question concerning the word the writer of Jonah used under inspiration to describe how the big fish managed to put Jonah back onto dry land, and the word is "vomit".

Dr Futato tells his audience that the Holy Spirit could have used any word to describe this particular scenario, but he chose the disgusting word "vomit" to reveal God's attitude (I may not have his words exactly right here) and was a response to Jonah's prayer when his (Jonah's) "heart was far from God".

Jonah's heart was NEVER far from God, and anyone who reads the book of Jonah and understands Jonah's motive for running away and becoming upset, would be well aware of this. 

When we read in Jonah 1.3 that Jonah had received his commission and fled, we note that no reason is given at that point, and many assumptions are made regarding his motive, except the correct one. Then follows the boat trip, being thrown overboard, and being swallowed by a great fish. We read Jonah's prayer, and after the fish vomits Jonah up onto dry land, God once again asks Jonah to go to Nineveh, and Jonah goes, and eventually does what God tells him to do.

The final chapter spells it out for those who care to read into it. The Ninevites have heard Jonah preaching doom and gloom if they continue in their wicked ways, and lo and behold, they repent! All of them! Why did Jonah become angry about this? You see, Jonah 4.2 hasn't recorded the prayer that Jonah prayed when God first gave him this task, and if it had been recorded, we might have gained a glimpse into this heart of Jonah that was so much nearer to God than most hearts today.

Jonah absolutely revered his Lord and God. Jonah was well aware of the wickedness of the people around him and even in distant Nineveh. Jonah had such a passion for God, that this wickedness pained him. If any of us have experienced negative remarks or actions directed toward someone we love and have the highest esteem for, we might have some idea of how Jonah felt when he witnessed so much evil and wickedness directed towards his Lord.

And then God asks Jonah to go to the extremely wicked city of Nineveh, preach to the people, and when they repent, He will forgive them. No way! Jonah knew only too well that God's love and mercy extended to the vilest offender. Those rat-bags don't deserve your love and mercy. See how they continue to spurn and hate you. I won't do this; I'll put as much distance between me and them as possible. And so, Jonah headed down to the port, and took a ship going in the opposite direction.

The latter part of chapter four shows God's love for his faithful servant. God understands why Jonah was angry, and tries to get him to see the situation from a different point of view. Jonah needed to see that God's love and mercy can extend not only to the wicked inhabitants of Nineveh, but even to the animals there.

It is unfortunate that many who read the small book of Jonah come away with the incorrect thoughts that have been expressed by so many. We have a tendency to read books by non-biblical authors, and listen to presentations by people putting across their own point of view, instead of burying ourselves in our own personal Bible study and being shown the right answers. The same mistakes are made when we hear or read about Samson, Mary Magdalene, Mary the sister of Lazarus, Job, and many others. 

The Bible has the truth. If we use that as our text book and bench-mark, we can't go wrong.

Bruce Prince

Sorry, I would have to say this summation is eisegesis. Even on a p'shaatt level the whole tone disagrees, but the prophetic levels of d'raash and ssohdh depict an entirely different perspective. Coincidence can bear a load, but it will collapse before a camel will.

In other words, I don't see any clothes on this emperor...no matter how much you say they are there.

I will agree that many Biblical figures are greatly misunderstood, often to shocking degrees. Samson is certainly one of those. Job often is, though there is more of a spread of opinion about him.

I have tooted this same tune before, but prophecy dictates ALL legitimate interpretation.

Posts 29
Bruce Prince | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Mar 6 2013 12:18 PM

Thanks, David for your input.

I'm afraid I don't know the meaning of your terms in your second sentence, but it is interesting that you say that I am approaching this matter from a subjective point of view. Although it is difficult to interpret Scripture from an entirely objective perspective, even when using time-honoured hermeneutics (such as grammatical-historical), I believe that many of the Bible's material is too often presented by individuals from a personal perspective. 

That may well be the case in my presentation as you have pointed out and even acknowledge with regard to Samson, etc, but even when we appear to receive a completely objective appraisal of some Bible character (for example), I believe we are often still missing the mark. The Bible is God's Word, and as 2 Tim 3.16 states, it was given to us for our profit. We speak of various Bible characters, believing we have a handle on why they did this, and how they did that, but at the end of the day, it is not really about them. When we read the short story of Jonah, many come away believing the story is about Jonah; but it isn't. The story is about how God can love the unlovable, and extend His gracious mercy even to the vilest offender, and even their animals!

The stories are never about the individuals; their presence in the accounts is used simply to enable God to show us yet another aspect of His beautiful character. We read God's Word to gain further insights into God's character. We, who know neither how to go out or come in, need as much careful coaxing as God is able to provide.

When Moses requested God to show him His glory, God told him that He would make his "goodness" pass before him, which is an aspect of His character. This is what our Heavenly Father wants us to see more clearly, so that we'll love Him more dearly, so that we'll walk with Him more nearly.

Respectfully yours

Bruce

Posts 4841
David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Mar 6 2013 12:59 PM

Well, Bruce, I am pleasantly surprised that we have more in common than I first suspected. Taking a strong prophetic perspective, I fully agree that the Bible's stories are not about the individuals who lived those stories out. I hope, though, that you recognize that such a perspective is at odds with the "time-honored" hermeneutic you reference--particularly the historical aspect. A historical perspective insists that it IS all about the inidividuals mentioned by name in a given section of Scripture. I've said this in other threads, but such an outlook is literally a broken hermeneutic. One cannot understand the Bible from such a perspective--at all. That is in no way to suggest that the Bible doesn't relate things that happened in history (it certainly does). It is rather saying that what happened to those individuals is of a profoundly paled importance compared to the prophetic significance that YHWH "baked" into virtually every event recorded in the Bible.

I agree that YHWH's grace and mercy are significant issues in Jonah's story--yet I strongly disagree that he "escapes" the ire of 'Elohhiym. Quite the contrary, I believe he literally speaks his own death sentence. The structure of prophecy supports that perspective. Regarding Samson, he is, as you say, almost universally condemned as a weak strong man. What few recognize is that he is a the prophetic type for one of the most profound aspects of Yeishuu`a's earthly ministry.

Shaalohm

Posts 3942
abondservant | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Mar 6 2013 1:07 PM

Bruce Prince:

Thanks, David for your input.

I'm afraid I don't know the meaning of your terms in your second sentence, but it is interesting that you say that I am approaching this matter from a subjective point of view. Although it is difficult to interpret Scripture from an entirely objective perspective, even when using time-honoured hermeneutics (such as grammatical-historical), I believe that many of the Bible's material is too often presented by individuals from a personal perspective. 

That may well be the case in my presentation as you have pointed out and even acknowledge with regard to Samson, etc, but even when we appear to receive a completely objective appraisal of some Bible character (for example), I believe we are often still missing the mark. The Bible is God's Word, and as 2 Tim 3.16 states, it was given to us for our profit. We speak of various Bible characters, believing we have a handle on why they did this, and how they did that, but at the end of the day, it is not really about them. When we read the short story of Jonah, many come away believing the story is about Jonah; but it isn't. The story is about how God can love the unlovable, and extend His gracious mercy even to the vilest offender, and even their animals!

The stories are never about the individuals; their presence in the accounts is used simply to enable God to show us yet another aspect of His beautiful character. We read God's Word to gain further insights into God's character. We, who know neither how to go out or come in, need as much careful coaxing as God is able to provide.

When Moses requested God to show him His glory, God told him that He would make his "goodness" pass before him, which is an aspect of His character. This is what our Heavenly Father wants us to see more clearly, so that we'll love Him more dearly, so that we'll walk with Him more nearly.

Respectfully yours

Bruce



Don't forget of course the natural similarities or "type" of Christ lived out by Jonah. Its not a perfect correlation, but case is quite strong that God was showing us something of what Christ would go through. Even if Jonah wasn't Christlike in his attitudes and so forth.

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Posts 29
Bruce Prince | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Mar 6 2013 1:34 PM

Thanks again, David. Your comments are both interesting and informative.

I referenced the G-H hermeneutics principle simply because, to my knowledge, it is the best available, although you are correct in saying the "historical" aspect can lead to wrong conclusions. On the other hand, it can also lead to correct interpretation. For example, many commentators state that Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, was a prostitute who attended a feast in Simon the leper's home. They are wrong of course, from more than one perspective. Firstly, Simon lived in Bethany Beyond the Jordan, not the Bethany near Jerusalem, and secondly, a Jewish woman, such as Mary, would not appear outside her home with unbraided hair. I'm using this as just a small example of where, to interpret more objectively what the gospel accounts are about, it is helpful if we take into account historical and cultural aspects (cultural is related to historical as well as geographical). 

Of course, once again, the story is neither about Mary, or Simon, but about Jesus.

Your final comment regarding Jonah is related to how God used an imperfect human to do His bidding, and whether he "escapes the ire of Elohhiym" or not is immaterial to the reason why the book is included in our canon of Scripture, except to show how our Heavenly Father can use any one He chooses, even a person who is left-handed (not meant to be a disparaging remark concerning people who are left-handed).

Peace.

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