The story of Jonah continues to offer humor and hard lessons to the end. The prophet's astounding success leaves him angry and alone, leveling words usually offered in praise of God as accusations. The tale ends without resolution for Jonah, and with a question which might leave us unresolved too: "should God not be concerned about" those we view as "wicked?"
In the third chapter of Jonah, a one sentence proclamation and extravagant contrition humorously highlight the possibilities of repentance. Yet the serious questions remain: how will we respond when we hear of God's judgment? Are we ready and willing to "turn from our evil ways and from the violence that is in our hands?"
Within the chaotic action of the story of Jonah, the second chapter provides a space of deep reflection with a psalm of thanksgiving. From the improbable location in the belly of a fish, Jonah speaks of the relatable experience of feeling overwhelmed and driven from God's sight and offers powerful praise for God's presence and deliverance.
Often told as a children's "fish story," the book of Jonah is an example of Scriptural satire that uses silly humor to point to serious truths. Right from the start, the story is full of overthrown expectations and upside-down behavior. In the midst of this whirlwind of action, deep questions of faith, foolishness, and God's power rise to the surface.