/ Jonah / Andrew Kerr

Was Jonah Born-Again?

It is a pity that so much ink has been spilt on denying or defending the miraculous, historical, rescue of the recalcitrant prophet Jonah. No doubt it has been the tactic of our arch enemy to cast doubt on Christ's testimony to the undoubtable "sign of Jonah".

There are so many wonderful truths to be unpacked in this book. A prime example is yielded by the careful study of the fishy prayer of Jonah 2:1-10 - it provides clear evidence for supposing that Jonah was truly a "Born Again" believer in the saving power of Yahweh.

The Flood

Take for example, the term for deep METSULAH, which occurs only twelve times in the Hebrew Bible: in all but three cases it is a stereotypical term designed to cast the mind of the reader back to the Crossing of the Red Sea - see Exod. 15:5; Neh. 9:11; Job 41:23; Ps. 68:23; 69:3, 16; 88:7; 107:24; Jon. 2:4; Mic. 7:19; Zech. 1:8; 10:11:

The floods covered them; they went down into the depths like a stone - Exodus 15:5.

The Reeds

We must also reckon with the fact that Jonah's neck-tie weeds, or SUPH, are described by a term which in all but one instance (a related place-name SUPH), always refers to reeds not weeds, which are found on Red Seashores (See Exodus 2:3, 5; 10:19; 13:18; 15:4, 22; 23:31; Numbers 14:25; 21:4; 33:10, 11; Deuteronomy 1:1, 40; 2:1; 11:4; Jos. 2:10; 4:23; 24:6; Judges 11:16; 1 Kings 9:26; Nehemiah 9:9; Psalm 106:7, 9, 22; 136:13, 15; Isaiah 19:6; Jeremiah 49:21; Jonah 2:6):

Pharaoh's chariots and his host he cast into the sea, and his chosen officers were sunk in the Red (REED) Sea - Exodus 15:4.

The Save

Don't miss that the salvation, or YESHUATHAH, that Jonah came to know is also explicitly is attributed to Yahweh in the Old Testament's prototypical rescue event:

And Moses said to the people, "Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again" ..."The LORD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father's God, and I will exalt him" - Exodus 14:13 & 15:2.

The Beach

His return to terra firma, as the vomit of the great fish, expels Jonah onto ground which is not designated as a beach or sand but, again, stereotypically, the dry land of the LORD, or YABASHAH, on which His people stand and are saved:

And the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land - Jonah 2:10.

Putting the Pieces Together

In Genesis - Please flashback with me to when the wind or Spirit of God, or RUACH, hovered over the primeval creation: remember how its waters were parted by His Word, and the dramatic result, with the emergence of dry ground, or YABASHAH.

In Exodus - This same combination of wind, water and dry ground dramatically reappears in the later jaw-dropping Red Sea salvation: this is therefore best represented as a recreative event, or as Israel's national new birth.

In Jonah - If our logic is correct, the regurgitation of Jonah also employs this same Genesis-Exodus, creation-regeneration, vocabulary: it suggests that a compelling case can be made for viewing the prophet as a new man. Jonah wants us to realize (even if he still lacked, at this point, a truly missionary heart), that when his reappearance on land was, in fact, a regeneration.

In other words, the rebellious, callous, prophet, who served the God of Love, had been chastened and changed by his experience of condemnation and deliverance. His watery grave and recommission on the beach, seems to self-consciously be proclaimed as the son of Amittai's rebirth.

Andrew Kerr

Andrew Kerr

Pastor of Knockbracken in Belfast - Husband of Hazel, Dad to Rebekah, Paul and Andrew, Lover of Skiing, Walker of Lucy (our Bernese Mountain Dog), with a Passion for OT - in Deep Need of Grace

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