Jonah: It's the fish, isn't it?
What makes us remember Jonah? It's the fish, isn't it? Without the fish, the book of Jonah would've been obscure and unfamiliar like Obadiah, Zephaniah or Nahum. The thought of Jonah surviving and praying in the belly of a fish is just amazing; very suitable for a sunday school lesson. Did he try to escape during those three days and three nights? I'm sure he did. He might have knocked on the wall of the stomach, "Hello Mr/Ms Fish, let me out". It must've been slippery as he tried to make his way through the oesophagus (do fishes have oesophagus?). Well, hold on a second, how can a guy survive inside a fish for 3 days? That's impossible. in sunday school, how did I not think of that and asked my teacher? Then we heard a preacher say that even if the Bible say that Jonah swallowed the fish, he'd still believe.
I don't doubt the ability of Jonah's God, my God; but Jonah's encounter with the fish isn't the central theme of the book. The book is about God's love for a foreign nation and the arrogance of his people examplified by Jonah the prophet.
The book tries to examine the following questions: Does God have favourites? Does he care about what happens to different nations? What does he think about countries or people who apparently take no notice of him or his standards? (Dick Hines)
The cruel and godless Ninevites 'from the greatest to the least' repented, and God showed mercy on them and withold punishment. This removes the impression that in the Old Testament (or now), God loved Israel (or certain communities) and hated certain others.
There's a T shirt with logo "Nagas: God's own people". That's true but He is also the God of Meiteis, Mizos, Kukis, 'Plain walas', the Palestinans..... We need to be careful of the tendency to claim exclusive rights to God's blessings...or a feeling of having special status before God's eyes
We are so enamoured by Jonah's encounter with the fish that we miss the central message of the book. Now somebody says that it was a whale. Did the Bible say that the big fish was a whale? We are back to the fish. It's the fish, isn't it?