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Jonah 1-4 (Click here to read the book of Jonah. It is only four short chapters in length. You may choose whatever translation you prefer on the Bible Gateway website.)

Tomorrow’s Sunday school lesson is on the book of Jonah. I am grieving over the teacher’s manual that supplements the student handbook for this quarter because the writer obviously does not believe in the account as historical fact but only as a parable.  I deeply regret that teachers across the US are given all of this author’s reasons to discount the story of Jonah as a historic book, and I have written to the editor of our Sunday school curriculum about this.

Jonah 1:1-2.  “Jonah, son of Amittai” as he is identified in the book of Jonah was also referred to in 2 Kings 14:25.  This lends credibility to the person of Jonah as a true historical figure. It also gives a time frame for the account.

Jonah 1:17. There is no reason to be upset over the Bible’s use of the word “fish” rather than the word “whale” as the story has been traditionally taught. God was perfectly capable of using either. However, I used Bible Gateway to search the entire Bible for the word “whale” in several translations and found it did not exist. This leads me to believe that the word “fish” in the Bible was loosely applied to any and all fish-shaped animals in the sea.

Jonah 3:3-4. The argument was made in the teacher’s edition that the city of Ninevah would have to be sixty miles wide for it to take Jonah three days to cross it. Jonah wasn’t on a hike. He had to stop and give the message to everyone there. He would not have taken a straight path through the center of the city.

Jonah 3:5-9. Would all the people have believed Jonah? In our time that may seem unrealistic, but consider that:

  1. Jonah would have looked quite strange after spending three days in the belly of a whale. His skin would surely have been exposed to all kinds of gastric juices. His hair would have been affected and his clothing would have been a mess. He probably looked like a walking zombie.
  2. The people surely would have asked what happened and why. Jonah’s experience would have added both conviction and credibility as he gave them God’s message. It may not have been so unreasonable to believe that the people listened to Jonah and took him seriously.

It is sad when we let the skeptics of out time write our Sunday school literature. It grieves me even more to learn that most of our major Christian publishing companies are being bought out by the mega secular publishers. It is important that we as individuals read the Bible for ourselves and teach it those within our sphere of influence. There is too much to lose if we don’t.

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