READ JONAH ONE
You’ve done some hard work getting to know the background and context for the book of Jonah! Particularly if you found this process challenging, you should be proud of the way you’ve worked slowly and thoroughly through the information. Whenever I do a book overview study I am reminded of two things: the book’s place in the canon* of Scripture and my place within Christian history.
The book of Jonah fits neatly and intentionally into the canon of Scripture. Our God, in His sovereignty and kindness, included Jonah as one of the 66 books that proclaim His character and plan of redemption. We can rejoice that He gave us this book for our study! And with great anticipation we can dive into exegetical** study knowing that He has something to teach us – something He deemed absolutely necessary to do through Jonah’s story.
Secondly, it reminds us of our place in Christian history. It is far too easy in our day and age to believe that we are somehow a part of the ultimate generation of Christians, and we easily neglect to know the context of the Christian story in which we find our place. We stand on the shoulders of the Biblical prophets – Jeremiah, Moses, Isaiah, and more. We stand on the shoulders of the apostles – Matthew, John, Peter, Paul, and the rest. And on the shoulders of early church leaders – those who died as martyrs in the Roman arena, those who spearheaded the Reformation alongside Martin Luther, and those who fought for the abolition of slavery, and more! We do not come to faith in isolation; we join the generations of the faithful who have worshiped God throughout time and place. Just like the book of Jonah, we have a context – and one we will do well to call regularly to mind.
*The “canon” of Scripture is the entirety of the Bible, the 66 books that comprise the whole.
**When we study “exegetically” we study to draw out the meaning of the text. The prefix “ex” should remind you of the word “exit,” to draw something out. When we do exegesis we are drawing out the meaning of the text, which requires a verse-by-verse study. That’s what we’re doing here!
Our study of the book of Jonah is focused on seeing the faithfulness of God (which will often come in contrast to our unfaithfulness). Read the book of Jonah in full again today. As you read, make note of every place where God’s faithfulness is on display. Close your study time in prayer, thanking God that He is faithful in every context of biblical and Christian history – and ask for faith to trust Him to be faithful today.
PRAY & REFLECT
Thank God for all the believers who have come before you. Spend some time thanking Him for the witness of the Old Testament believers, New Testament Christians, early Church, and modern Church. Ask Him to grow your faith in His faithfulness and for discernment to know how He would use you in this era of the Church.