A False Association

Jonah 1-2 furnishes another example of a false association within a redemptive event.  Though Jonah is a prophet in the Northern Kingdom of Israel during the reign of the wicked king Jeroboam II (2 Ki.14:25), he is sent to Nineveh, the chief city of the rising Assyrian empire, which poses a growing threat to his nation, to proclaim immanent judgment against it.  The following description illustrates a false association that occurs within a redemptive event [punishment and rescue of Jonah] from A House for My Name, 2000, by Peter Leithart:

So Jonah runs away…The whole time he is going “down”…“down” to Joppa to catch the boat (1:3)…“down” into the boat (1:3)…“below” into the hold (1:5)…he is thrown overboard and plunges “down” to the bottom of the sea [1:15] and cries to the Lord from “the depths of Sheol” (2:2).  Fleeing from the Lord always takes you “downhill.”

I can just hear the sermon on this – the preacher getting the audience whipped up in agreement with the conclusion through Jonah’s plunge into the depths of despair.  Geographical position and descent have no solid connection to Jonah’s flight of disobedience.  The connection is just an English language word-play trick.  The real issue is, “why should God’s mercy be limited to the Israelites”?  He not only had compassion on Jonah [who refused to obey because he hated the Assyrians] by forcing him into submission [sometimes referred to as “with a heavy hand” which means pressing or pressuring], but also on the Ninevites by warning them of impending destruction, thereby giving them the opportunity to repent as well.