Asleep at the Keel (Crescendo)

During the storm
Made from his rebellion
Awoken to face his judgment

During the storm
Sent to foster their faith
Awoken to speak His judgment.

Spent three days in the fish
Facing his sins deserts,
“Salvation is from the Lord GOD!”

Spent three days in Sheol
Facing our sins deserts:
“Salvation is from Storm-Stiller!”


Roll of the Dice (Tennyson)

With the trek to Joppa, the dice were cast
And I thought I saw sevens when I found
A lucky freighter: it was Tarshish-bound!
The rolling dice said bad fortune was past:
The lot was mine.

The dice were cast with a nap in the hold
Of the storm-rocked crib where I took a nap
Until the pit boss woke me with a slap:
“Call out to your god for rescue, be bold!”
The lot was mine.

The fearful sailors met to cast the dice,
The troublemaker to identify,
To ply him with questions, to find out why
Their ship was assailed by a storm this size:
The lot was mine.

Then the Sovereign whose loaded dice I threw
Resolutely, calmly crossed His own sea
Spent three days and nights beneath
Then rose again to proclaim the Good News:
“The lot was mine.”


2015 Reading Log: Salvation through Judgment and Mercy

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.

Jonah 2

I called to the LORD in my distress
I cried out for help in the belly of Sheol
All Your breakers and waves crash over me
I said, “There is no help for my soul!”

You threw me in the depths of the sea
The current carried me away from life
When the prison doors slammed shut behind me
To Your temple I lifted my eyes

When hope was just a dimming ember
When life’s light was all but gone
You raised my life out of the Pit
Salvation is Yours, and Yours alone

Those who cling to their worthless idols
Throw away your holy, steadfast love
But I will raise my voice in thanksgiving
I will offer up my praises in a song

When hope was just a dimming ember
When life’s light was all but gone
You raised my life out of the Pit
Salvation is Yours, and Yours alone


Jonah, the Sailors and PSA

Then the men were even more afraid and said to him [Jonah], “What is this you’ve done?” The men knew he was fleeing from the LORD’s presence, because he had told them. So they said to him, “What should we do to you to calm this sea that’s against us?” For the sea was getting worse and worse (Jonah 1:10-11 HCSB).

It’s interesting that these pagan sailors (“each cried out to his god” [1:5]) seemed to understand the necessity of personal propitiation with the gods. Jonah had made clear to them he was running away from Yahweh, Maker of Sea and Dry Land. They probed Jonah for what propitiatory rituals Yahweh required so Jonah could be consumed in His wrath but not take them down with him (literally, too, in this case).

“What should we do to you to calm this sea that’s against us?” They understood that Jonah had sinned, and something had to be done to him to atone for that sin. They were also guilty as those who aided and abetted his sin; he had told them, which made them complicit in his sin. Not only do they understand penal atonement, but they also understand penal substitutionary atonement: if Jonah absorbs the wrath of Yahweh the Sea-Maker, then they will be spared.

Jesus tells the Pharisees that Jonah serves as a sign for them: just as Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days and nights, so too would the Son of Man be in the belly of the earth. Just as Jonah was brought back from the dead, so too Jesus rose from the grave for our justification.

Jonah Knew His Psalms

Jonah 2 resonates with beauty and aches with honesty. Where the Writings have Psalm 51, the Prophets have Jonah 2. And its absolutely filled to the brim with Psalms.

Psalm 139 had to be on his mind and in his heart:

LORD, You have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I stand up;
You understand my thoughts from far away.
You observe my travels and my rest;
You are aware of all my ways (Psalm 139:1-3 HCSB).

I wonder if Jonah chuckled in his repentance at Psalm 139:3–“You observe my travels and my rest.” The Psalm continues its parallels:

Where can I go to escape Your Spirit?
Where can I flee from Your presence?
If I go up to heaven, You are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, You are there.
If I live at the eastern horizon
or settle at the western limits,
even there Your hand will lead me;
Your right hand will hold on to me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me,
and the light around me will be night”–
even the darkness is not dark to You.
The night shines like the day;
darkness and light are alike to You. (Psalm 139:7-12 HCSB)

Jonah had certainly made his bed in Sheol (139:8). Then verse 9 his close to home as well: Nineveh was to the east, and Tarshish was as far west as you could go. The HCSB Study Bible notes that the most likely location is the “Phoenician colony of Tartessus, located on the Guadalquivir River on the southwestern coast of Spain about 2,000 miles west of Palestine. This is about as far in the opposite direction from Nineveh that Jonah could have gone” (1517).

Jonah went to the “lowest part of the vessel” en route to Tarshish, and may have even thought something along the lines of 139:11-12.

Jonah also draws from Psalm 42:7, “All You breakers and Your billows have swept over me.”

Then Psalms 31:22 and 138:2: “In my alarm I had said, ‘I am cut off from Your sight'” and “I will bow down toward Your holy temple.”

He finishes with Psalm 26:7-type language: “…raising my voice in thanksgiving and telling about your wonderful works.”

In all, the HCSB cites a total of 31 cross-references to the Psalms.

This encourages me to know and love the Psalms more, because the Holy Spirit keeps bringing them up in the rest of Scripture in beautiful and powerful ways.

Sovereignty (Terza Rima)

The wickedness of Nineveh confronted
And demanded a reckoning from the One
Whom their wretchedness had affronted.

In His sovereignty He sent Amittai’s son
To go there and preach against that city vile
And warn them before destruction had begun.

Jonah’s silver paid the far and turned the stile
Boarding the Tarshish-bound ship God had prepared
To ride the seas He would with hurricanes rile.

The wet-pantsed sailors wept and screamed in despair
Their fear of sudden death drowned their fear of shame
Like all the ship’s cargo, they would not be spared.

They cast their lots to find out who was to blame
For the supernatural storm raging wild
The dice loaded by the LORD gave them the name.

Jonah, identified as one in the wrong
Gave testimony when all their questions pressed:
“A Hebrew, one of Yahweh’s, Creator strong.

“I know that I’m the culprit, as you have guessed;
Throw me overboard into the roaring deeps
If you really want this violent sea to rest.”

Leviathan’s companion swam up to keep
His assignment from the Maker of the sea.