On Yom Kippur 2011 (October 7-8 on our calendars) Jewish celebrants will once again honor their national Day of Atonement with a reading of the story of Jonah.
Jonah read anytime, but especially on a day that celebrates the mercy of God, raises important questions for the rabbis of Israel. Some explain that the story of Jonah is meant to be a reminder that no matter how great our sins, the forgiveness of God is greater. Other Rabbis say that the story is not just about us.
Certainly, there is a truth in both answers. But my bet is with the second. If reading the story of a reluctant prophet on Yom Kippur is meant to call to mind the bigger story of the Bible, it’s a reminder that the mercy God offers his people is what He wants for others.
The back story to Jonah is that his nation was chosen not just for itself but to be good for her neighbors and enemies as well (Gen 12:1-3). The rest of her story leads to a Messiah who takes the real meaning of Jonah to its ultimate meaning of One for all (John 3:16).
So, what do you think? Do you buy the point? If so, or if not, what do you see as a greater threat to the mission of the Body of Christ: the anti-conversion bias of globalism, or the competitive self-interests of nationalism, not only for Israel, but for us as well? Is either more reason for alarm than the other?