Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Jonah & the Whale

(no, it wasn't really 02/01/2006 when this picture was taken...need to get that fixed)

This is VBS week at DPC, and I've had a blast being with all the children off & on throughout the week.

Thanks to all the volunteers who are working together to pull this off!

And thanks to Cindy, our Interim Children's Ministry Director for leading us!

We've been working through the story of Jonah, a wonderful story of the mercies of God.

Enjoy the following tidbits from Frederick Buechner's fun little book, Peculiar Treasures: A Biblical Who's Who:

Within a few minutes of swallowing the prophet Jonah, the whale suffered a severe attack of acid indigestion, and it's not hard to see why. Jonah had a disposition that was enough to curdle milk.

When God ordered him to go to Ninevah and tell them there to shape up and get saved, the expression on Jonah's face was that of a man who has just gotten a whiff of trouble in his septic tank. In the first place, the Ninevites were foreigners and thus off his beat. In the second place, far from wanting to see them get saved, nothing would have pleased him more than to see them get what he thought they had coming to them.

It was as the result of a desperate attempt to get himself out of the assignment that he got himself swallowed by the whale instead; but the whale couldn't stomach him for long, and in the end Jonah went ahead, and with a little more prodding from God, did what he'd been told. He hated every minute of it, however, and when the Ninevites succumbed to his eloquence and promised to shape up, he sat down under a leafy castor oil plant to shade him from the blistering sun and smouldered inwardly. It was an opening that God could not resist.

He caused the castor oil plant to shrivel up to the last leaf, and when Jonah got all upset at being back in the ghastly heat again, God pretended to misunderstand what was bugging him.

"Here you all, all upset out of pity for one small castor oil plant that has shrived up," he said, "so what's wrong with having pity for this whole place that's headed for Hell in a handcart if something's not done about it?" (Jonah 4.10-11)

It is one of the rare instances in the Old Testament of God's wry sense of humor, and it seems almost certain that Johan didn't fail to appreciate it.

If it was actually a whale that swallowed Jonah on his voyage to Tarshish, it couldn't have been the kind of right whale you find in those waters because their gullets aren't big enough. Maybe it was a sperm whale because they can handle something the size of a prophet without batting an eye. Or maybe, since the Hebrew word means only "great fish," it wasn't a whale at all but a man-eating shark, some of whom attains lengths as great as thirty feet. But whatever it was, this much is certain.

No matter how deep it dove and no matter how dark the inside of its belly, no depth or darkness was enough to drown out the sound of Jonah's prayer. "I am cast out from thy presence. How shall I again look upon thy holy temple?" (Jonah 2.4) the intractable and waterlogged old man called out from sixty fathoms, and Yahweh heard him, and answered him, and Jonah's relief at being delivered from the whale can hardly have been any greater than the whale's at being delivered from Jonah

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