Thursday, September 02, 2010

The difference between Esther and Jonah

I have to confess: I don't like the book of Esther.

Having said that, I like the individual Esther. She's spunky, tough, and brave.

But the book that bears her name is -- to me -- grating, often mean spirited, and hard to take.

The opposite is true in the book of Jonah.

I love the book of Jonah. It's a great story of God's mercy, of His kindness, and of the failed men (and women) who sometimes speak what God has given them to speak.

Not to mention other aspects of the book: the sailors who sought to save Jonah from the deep, God's concern for not only the people of Ninevah, but the animals as well -- there in the last verse. And of course, the picture of Mediterranean sailing in the 4th century BC. We find out from this book that passengers sailed and paid fares (and maybe had fees for extra luggage, though this is not mentioned) that there was sleeping areas on the ship, and get a vivid description of life on a ship in the midst of a storm.

But I detest the man Jonah. He is mean, nasty, vituperative, and spiteful.

Or rather "was" all of these things. Perhaps the ultimate message of the book of Jonah is of God's patience and kindness. Jonah, too, could grow in God's mercy. May God grant that we may all so grow.

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