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The whole is gathered up in the story of Jonah in which the universal gospel of grace is presented in a parabolic form grounded in a historical base. Whatever center an Old Testament theology may present, the emphasis in Jonah on universality can be tied in nicely. Three of the four chapters in this little story deal with deliverance, each from a different perspective.

In chapter one a group of sailors are saved from the ravages of a storm; in chapter two Jonah is saved from certain death by drowning; and in chapter three Nineveh is saved from destruction. History gives us no information from which to evaluate the long range effects of the deliverance in any of these episodes.

The offerings and vows of the sailors in , and the sackcloth and ashes, fasting, and renunciation of evil ways of the Ninevites in were clearly intended to show to the reader the genuineness of their repentance. The case of Jonah himself is much more complicated.

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Any repentance on the part of Jonah is dependent on the controversial psalm of chapter two. Neither position shows any understanding of the psalm or its intended meaning. Fortunately, more recent commentators have shown a greater understanding and present a more meaningful analysis. George Landes even makes the psalm a central feature of his study of the message of Jonah. For him, the psalm represents the second of two prayers delivered by Jonah. The first, though not included in the narrative, is delivered as Jonah sinks into the sea, and is alluded to in and 7.

The second is this psalm, which Jonah delivers upon being swallowed by the fish. When Jonah finds himself in the belly of the fish with air to breathe, he is certain that God has decided not to let him die for his disobedience, he reasons, drowning would have been sufficient and appropriate.

He is still alive, so God must have further plans for him.

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That is sufficient cause for praise. Ellison states this position succinctly.

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The simple fact is that this psalm is a thanksgiving for rescue from drowning or destruction. Jonah, once he had been preserved from drowning, knew that his life would be preserved. This act of deliverance brought Jonah to repentance as clearly shows. In each instance—the sailors, Jonah, and Nineveh—God responds with deliverance from the imminent perils which beset the prayerful penitents. As such,. Sadly, in two of the three instances we know nothing of the subsequent lives of the sailors , the repentance is relatively short-lived.

The Grace of GOD in the Old Testament

In chapter four we find Jonah bitter over the outcome of his mission to Nineveh and asking God to take his life. He cannot rejoice with God at the repentance of Nineveh and her ensuing deliverance. History also tells of the destruction of the Northern Kingdom by the Assyrians around B. As we have seen, deliverance is clearly a central theme in Jonah.

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But it is not the only theme present in this powerful story. God is also presented in the book as an absolute sovereign; in fact Jonah himself might claim that God is arbitrary and capricious. There is no automatic connection between repentance and salvation. The sea captain and the king of Nineveh clearly recognized this possibility. But it did not prevent them from claiming the hope of salvation and act accordingly.

No matter how much we may, like Jonah, desire to put God in a box to be manipulated according to our interpretations of justice and mercy, it is simply not possible. God will always act in ways that are consonant with his ultimate salvific purposes. But such a confession of faith is not reducible to a formula whereby it can be determined just how God will act in specific instances. God remains totally free to do as he wills, yet this absolute sovereignty must not be interpreted as caprice, leaving the faithful in a perpetual state of anxiety. Even while He was pronouncing sentence upon Adam and Eve for their sins, God prophesied of the coming Savior and the grace that would come to all mankind through Jesus Christ Gen.

After Adam and Eve lost their state of grace, they were expelled from the Garden of Eden. By removing them from Eden, God cut them off from access to the Tree of Life. In spite of the fact that Adam and Eve had sinned, and that mankind in general was cut off from the way to eternal life, God still granted His blessings and grace to those few who truly sought Him and loved Him!

Enoch walked with God and pleased God Gen. The New Testament confirms that these two righteous men will be resurrected to eternal life, along with Noah and other faithful men and women of the Old Testament whose righteous acts are described in Hebrews In Old Testament times, only a faithful few received the grace of God unto salvation. As a result of being cut off from God by choosing the way of sin and death under the sway of Satan the devil, mankind before the Flood became satiated with evil, violence and wickedness.

And it repented the Lord that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted His way upon the earth. In the midst of this sinful and corrupt society, only one man remained faithful to God and found grace in His sight. By recording that Noah walked with God, the Scriptures make it clear that he was humbly and meekly obeying God.

Noah found grace because he willingly loved God, walked with God, served and obeyed God. When the Ark was completed, God gave further instructions about the animals.

Think for a minute! The answer is a resounding NO! From the terrible destruction of the Flood, God reached down and saved Noah and his household alone.

Overview: Jonah

It was a blessing for all humanity! Again, God was graciously reaching down to give a blessing to a human being who was willing to love and obey Him. Throughout the Scriptural account of his life, it is recorded that Abraham believed God and obeyed God.

Because he loved God and walked with God, Abraham was called the friend of God. Did the state of grace under which Abraham lived mean that he was not required to keep the commandments of God? Of course not! Grace never gives anyone license or permission to ignore or reject the commandments and laws of God and to commit sin--which is the transgression of the law I John Shall we continue in sin, so that grace may abound?

We who died to sin, how shall we live any longer therein? Both the Old Testament and the New Testament teach us that we cannot live under the grace of God if we continue to live in sin! It was as true for Abraham as it is for us! Because of this intimate relationship based on love, grace and faith, God had confidence in Abraham. God knew Abraham, and Abraham knew God! That is what grace is all about! Like Abraham, we can come to know God by walking in faithful, loving obedience to Him.

The Scriptures record that God instructed Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac, whom he had received as a miraculous act of grace by the personal promise of God. By his faithful and willing obedience, Abraham proved that he loved God more than any person or thing in this world. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.

Abraham continued in loving, steadfast obedience to God, and he died in the faith.