Jonah is an interesting character. He’s the guy who ran from God, sulked around during a maelstrom, told sailors to toss him overboard, was swallowed by a big fish, and was vomited up a few days later. Then, he threw a fit because God was faithful to his character by saving the Ninevites. Jonah has taught me a lot of lessons, though, and most recently he’s been showing me God’s concern for the folks who live outside of my national borders.

Jonah and the outsiders

Since becoming a Christian nearly two decades ago, Jonah has appealed to me; first in helping me work through forgiveness, and now in thinking through how God views the outsider. The Bible is pretty clear about the importance of loving the foreigner, who is often included in lists alongside orphans and widows. The reasoning, according to God, is that “you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.” I’ve understood that for a long time and nodded my head in agreement.

More recently, though, as immigrants and refugees have been in the news, I’ve been thinking about Jonah, in particular his exchange with God in chapter 4.

Russ Meek

Associate Professor of Old Testament at William Tennent School of Theology