An Article by Richard Stearns This week Iraqi forces and their allies are fighting to take back the city of Mosul from ISIL, who have held it since 2014. It’s happening in an area of biblical significance: Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city of some 1.5 million people is in modern-day Nineveh. We remember Nineveh from one of the most popular stories of the Old Testament in which the prophet Jonah reacted badly to a command from God. He had been tapped to go to Nineveh, the prosperous and powerful center of the Assyrian empire. The people there had become so wicked that God wanted to destroy them unless Jonah could preach some sense into them. But Jonah had his own view of the Ninevites, that they weren’t worthy of God’s compassion. Instead of obeying God, he ran away.
Is the book of Jonah truly about multi-ethnic relationships or are we reading a modern political agenda into the biblical text?
This is a good question. Although we can’t view any biblical text without seeing it through the lens of our own culture, careful bible study requires readers to reflect on a text in a way that allows it to challenge our lenses and our cultures (Acts 17:11 & 26:2–3). So, in its own terms what is the book of Jonah about?