Jonah and the Whale

The Holy Bible is filled with all sorts of fascinating stories. If I were choosing the most profound from the Old Testament, I’d have to go with the Sacrifice of Isaac from Genesis.

When I think of “cool” stories, I think of the story of Jonah. The Book of Jonah is not long – only four chapters. But a lot happens in those four chapters.

Jonah is commissioned by God to warn the citizens of Nineveh that he will destroy their city if they do not amend their wicked ways. Jonah, frightened at his assignment, flees from God’s directive and boards a ship for Tarshish.

A violent storm comes up, and Jonah is thrown overboard by the crew to spare them from God’s wrath.

Jonah is then swallowed by a “big fish” and spends three days in the belly of the animal while he prays to God for deliverance. The fish throws Jonah up onto the shore, and then he makes his way to Nineveh to carry out his task.

There have been multiple comparisons between Jonah and the story of Pinocchio, where the wooden puppet is swallowed by a giant whale. In both narratives, the central character endeavors to escape from his problems.

God gets Jonah’s attention by having him spend some time in the big fish (many tales call it a whale). Pinocchio has strayed from his family and fallen in with the wrong crowd. Both find redemption during their sojourns in the aquatic creatures.

God has unique ways of getting our attention. Don’t ever run from God. Instead, heed God’s call and experience redemption and forgiveness.

— Robert Fowler, St. Luke's Episcopal Church, Jacksonville

Onesimus the Slave

In the short book of Philemon there is an amazing story of God’s grace that could, and should, resonate from ancient times to our contemporary millennium.

The Apostle Paul writes to Philemon, a very wealthy Christian slave owner who resides in Colossus, and introduces himself as a prisoner of Jesus Christ. At the time, the Apostle Paul was imprisoned in Rome.

The letter was written in regard to a former slave named Onesimus, who may have stolen money from Philemon, his former owner, to aid in his escape. Onesimus had become a student of Paul’s and had became invaluable to him, not only as a servant, but as a son.

In his letter, Paul asks Philemon to forgive Onesimus and to accept him as a Christian brother and not return him to indenture-hood or exact any punitive punishment. Trusting that Philemon would accept Paul’s recommendation, he then sent Onesimus back to Philemon, his owner.

In his heartfelt letter, Paul expressed his desire to one day visit Philemon and offered to pay for any damages that Onesimus had incurred. Philemon’s response is unknown, but Paul ends his grace-filled request with an expectation that he would go above and beyond in restoring Onesimus from slave to son.

Our takeaway is to always make room for restoration in relationships. As a son, Onesimus was now in position to receive his godly inheritance.

— Beverly Mattox, Word Alive International Outreach