Estelle, Bryan D. Salvation through Judgment and Mercy: The Gospel according to Jonah.
I’m slowly and hopefully surely making my way through memorizing the 12 minor prophets. I’ve made my way through Zechariah and Haggai; I then turned to Jonah. My profound affection and respect for the Gospel according to the Old Testament series has yet to disappoint me (see here and here for starters).
Jonah is one of the more famous Old Testament stories, but one with much more nuance and depth than is often realized or appreciated. Estelle stands upon the foundation of the authenticity of Jonah’s text and the divine inspiration thereof, but he also insists upon it being a literary masterpiece as well.
One element of Jonah that Estelle brings out in the book that I found helpful and new to me was his explanation for why Jonah fled toward Tarshish in the first place. I knew chapter 4 stated that Jonah knew if he preached to the Ninevites, God would probably give them grace, which angered him. Jonah didn’t want them to have grace, but I never made the connection as to why until this book helped me see.
As the title indicates, salvation is tied up with both judgment and mercy. In fact, salvation requires judgment on those not receiving mercy. Jonah resisted preaching to Nineveh because if they repented and were saved, that necessarily meant judgment on Israel. It wasn’t simply that Jonah didn’t want the Ninevites to repent and believe in Yahweh; he didn’t want mercy shown to them to come at the expense of judgment on Israel. In fact, Assyria did indeed destroy the northern kingdom of the 10 tribes a few generations later.
Jonah should have interpreted his message and mission in this way: if there was judgment-sparing mercy for Yahweh- and Israel-hating Nineveh, then surely there would be judgment-sparing mercy for Israel if they would repent like Nineveh. If the love of Yahweh could cover even pagan Assyrians, it could certainly cover and restore His own chosen nation. Repentance, just as it is today, is the key to relationship with God, and He is not stingy with His grace.
If you’re studying Jonah or considering studying Jonah, this is a very helpful resource to add to your library.