The Law and Grace – An Object Lesson
Last week, as we closed out the sermon in verse 4, I noted that out of more than twenty translations which I check for each sermon, one read differently in that verse from all the others. Most versions are exceedingly similar to that of the NKJV which said, “Is it right for you to be angry?” Only Young’s correctly translated it as, “Is doing good displeasing to thee?” The verb is active, not passive.
The same sentiment is found in verse 9 which is tied directly into the death of the plant that was made by the Lord. While discussing this verse with Sergio, he said, “It doesn’t seem to make sense. How could it be good to destroy something the Lord had just made?” His question immediately resolved the enigma of Jonah 4 for me, and thus the intent of the whole book.
I spent that entire night laying on the couch and thinking through chapter 4, verse by verse and word by word. The next day, I called Sergio back, we talked, and I asked him to read verses 5 and 6 and see what problem might be perceived in them. He read them out loud as I listened, and then he said, “I never noticed that before.” He had made the realization that there is a seemingly contradictory thought in them. I needed to tell him nothing.
From there, I simply asked a few questions, not intending to reveal the mystery, but to see if he could figure it out on his own. If he could, then my thoughts would be confirmed. He did, and they are. His face lit up, and he said, “This is amaaaazing” the way that only Sergio can. Today, you are going to hear a completely different translation of several key verses than you have probably read before, but they are in line with the Hebrew. Why is this so?
Text Verse: A wise man will hear and increase learning,
And a man of understanding will attain wise counsel,
6 To understand a proverb and an enigma,
The words of the wise and their riddles.
7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
But fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:5-7
A man of understanding will attain wise counsel, to understand a proverb and an enigma, I often seek Sergio’s wise counsel. He understands Hebrew far better than I, and he has valuable insights into many things.
But the question for us today is, “Why has this passage not been evaluated before as we will evaluate it today?” Well, there are a few reasons. First, translators translate passages with the intent of them making sense. A translation that makes no sense… well, it makes no sense. Translators are not always commentary scholars.
Scholars on the other hand look for facts, figures, and details, and will often override translators through a process of explanation, but not normally through a process of translation. What they say may take pages to explain a single verse that translators are limited to. However, what they say must make sense or it is just vain rambling. And there is a lot of that among scholars.
In the case of Robert Young, his translation is correct, but it makes no sense, and so it has been overlooked. It doesn’t explain anything, and it doesn’t even clear up anything. It complicates things. Despite his accurate translation, he does nothing with the rest of the passage, and so the enigma remained.
And finally, there are presuppositions as to what is being said. Concerning verse 11, the final verse of the chapter and the book, there are biases by Jewish commentators which have to be overlooked, and then there are presuppositions about what is being said that have to be ignored.
And so, unlike a translator who is looking to make quick, clear sense out of something maybe cumbersome, and unlike a scholar who is trying to give facts, figures, and historically relevant commentary, and unlike those with biases or presuppositions, there is a fourth group. It is those who use translations as far as they can be used, and who ponder the words of scholars for background information, and then they add in a final element.
This element is the key to all of Scripture; it is “How does this point to Jesus and what He is doing in redemptive history?” Jesus told us that He is what Scripture speaks of, and therefore Jonah chapter 4 is included in that.
And so in order to understand what this chapter is saying, we have to step out of a comfortable translation, and go beyond the logic of scholars. Biases and presuppositions also need to be quashed. We have to look for the key; we must look for Christ. This is how to understand an enigma.
Chapter 4 of Jonah has been so misunderstood, because people have inserted their presuppositions into the text. Because of this, it is a book which ends in a seemingly odd way. Many people say it ends anticlimactically. The Lord goes into great detail preparing object lessons for Jonah, and these object lessons have been misunderstood, leaving the chapter ending with one impression when a completely different one is intended.
I am thankful to Robert Young for having the integrity to translate several verses without presuppositions. And, I am grateful to Sergio for being Sergio. I am blessed that there is someone who also likes to think outside the box. He has helped confirm the intent of many other passages we have looked at together over these past six years. Wonderful things are to be searched out in the Lord’s superior word. And so let’s turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.
I. Jonah’s Object Lesson (verses 5-11)
5 So Jonah went out of the city
va’yetse yonah min ha’ir – “And went Jonah from the city.” With his prayer complete, with his petition made, and with the question from the Lord now asked, Jonah departs from the city. He has accomplished his mission, even if it was unwillingly. And he went out of the city to see how the Lord would act upon the prophetic utterance he made. The Lord’s question to Jonah was, “Is doing good a reason for you to be furious?”
This leaves just one possibility – Nineveh will be spared. But he does not leave the area and head back to Israel. His hope is that Nineveh will not be spared, and that only he, a picture of the people of Israel, will alone share in the blessings of Yehovah.
5 (con’t) and sat on the east side of the city.
va’yeshev mi’qedem la’ir – “…and sat on east to city.” There is an importance in identifying the east side of the city. If there wasn’t, it would simply say, “…and sat outside the city.” North, south, east, or west – what difference does it make? However, the east is specified. Jonah willingly goes to the east side.
The word is qedem. It is the place of exile, as in the exile from Eden. It is the place of wandering and the place of disobedience to God, as in the time of Cain and in the building of the Tower of Babel. It is the place where destruction comes from, as in the east wind which brought in the withering drought upon Egypt during Joseph’s time, and the plague of locusts during Moses’ time.
It is also the front, or absolute forepart of a place, as in the entrance to the tabernacle. And, it is the time before, the past times, the ancient times as known to the Lord, such as in the prophecy to the King of Assyria in 2 Kings 19. In Habakkuk 1, the prophets asks –
“Are You not from everlasting (mi’qedem),
O Lord my God, my Holy One?” Habakkuk 1:12
The richness of the word qedem, or “east” in Scripture concerns a study of no minor significance, and the word calls out for thought concerning Jonah’s place of sitting.
5 (con’t) There he made himself a shelter
va’yaas lo sham sukkah – “…and made to there tabernacle.” The people of Israel are famous builders of tabernacles, because they were instructed to build them annually during their feast of Sukkoth, or “Tabernacles.” The sukkah is a place of shelter and protection. It can be for livestock, people, or even metaphorically of the sukkah of the Lord in the heavens. Jonah built one for himself there, outside of Nineveh.
5 (con’t) and sat under it in the shade,
v’yeshev takh-teiha ba’tsel – “…and sat under its protection.” Sitting implies abiding and being set. There in his sukkah, he abides, and the purpose of Jonah building the sukkah is confirmed now in that it provides tsel, or shade. The word comes from tsalal which indicates “shadowing” as in hovering over. Thus, he is covered and shaded. However, shade in Scripture is used metaphorically to indicate protection. This is seen in Psalm 91 –
“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.” Psalm 91:1, 2
5 (con’t) till he might see what would become of the city.
ad asher yireh mah yiyeh ba’ir – “…until which might see what will come to pass in city.” There, protected by the covering of his sukkah, Jonah watches and awaits what will come to pass. He is safe, but what will happen to the city? Because what happens to the city is what will happen to its inhabitants.
6 And the Lord God prepared a plant
Vay-man Yehovah Elohim qiqayon – “And appointed Yehovah Elohim qiqayon. So far, Yehovah, or the Lord, has been referred to in verses 2, 3, & 4. Elohim, or God, has been referred to in verse 2. Now Yehovah Elohim or, the Lord God, is referred to. It is He who does the preparing. Why the change? And what indeed has He prepared? A qiqayon?
It is a word which is referred to for the first of five times, but all will be in this passage. It is found nowhere else, but rather it is unique to this passage of Scripture alone.
It is variously translated as “plant,” “leafy plant,” “vine plant,” “gourd,” “little plant,” “vine,” “pumpkin,” and “ivy.” It is even footnoted as a castor oil plant. I asked Hideko to see what the Japanese version said. It said togoma, and she had no idea what that meant even in Japanese. So she read the margin note and then said, “Aaaaahhhhh, I know what it is… it’s the gourd.”
Which is correct? The answer is, “Any of them and none of them.” Nobody knows what a qiqayon is. Every translation is speculation. However, translators need to put something, and so they make a best guess. And so, the proper translation would be to simply say qiqayon. It is a name, and therefore a transliteration is all that is needed. However, qiqayon comes from the word qayah, or “to vomit.” In fact, when I asked Sergio to read it in Hebrew, the first thing he thought was, “Why is this speaking of vomit?”
The word qi means “to vomit” (the action). The word qa means “vomit” (the thing), and yon is a suffix which signifies a process, or denoting action or a condition. It is where our suffix –ion comes from. Lexicographers say that –ion goes back to the Latin, but they missed that it goes back further… to Hebrew. An example of this suffix is found in Amos 4:6 –
“‘Also I gave you cleanness of teeth in all your cities,
And lack of bread in all your places;
Yet you have not returned to Me,’
Says the Lord.” Amos 4:6
The word “cleanness” comes from naqah, clean. Adding –yon to it causes it to become niqayon, the state of being cleaned, or “cleanliness.” As Sergio noted, “A great example where you add “ion” and it transforms the verb into a noun that describes the result of that verb!” And so with qiqayon, you have a word which, in essence, says “This is the condition of vomiting vomit.” What on earth is this referring to?
6 (con’t) and made it come up over Jonah,
va’yaal me-al l’yonah – “and caused to ascend over to Jonah.” This process of something undesirable now covers over Jonah. How do we know it is undesirable? Because every instance of vomiting in Scripture is taken in a negative sense, with the exception of the result of Jonah being vomited onto shore in Chapter 2. However, for the fish, it was certainly undesirable. After Jonah’s shower, he was probably OK with it though.
6 (con’t) that it might be shade for his head
lih-yot tsel al rosho – “…that it might be protection for his head.” When I asked Sergio to read verses 5 & 6, it was with an understanding that it seemed there is a contradictory thought in them. Without explaining that to him, when he read these words he said, “I never noticed that before.”
He had clued into what was otherwise skimmed over by him in the past. Why does Jonah need shade for his head when he just built a sukkah for the purpose of, and which was realized in the last verse, giving him shade. Verses 5 & 6 are last two uses of tsel in the Old Testament. What is being relayed to us with this repetition of tsel?
6 (con’t) to deliver him from his misery.
l’hatsil lo me-raato – “…to deliver from his wickedness.” The word ra here is variously translated as grief, discomfort, misery, evil, fatigue, evil case, etc. Translators choose based on what they believe the intent of the passage is expressing. The correct word for Jonah may be “misery,” but for us, it is “wickedness.” This is an object lesson for Jonah in which he is miserable, and yet an allegory for us to consider and understand concerning that which is evil. The qiqayon is given to deliver him from his wickedness.
6 (con’t) So Jonah was very grateful for the plant.
Yonah al ha’qiqayon simkhah gedolah – “Jonah of the qiqayon joyful whoppingly.” Despite having built a sukkah which was for the purpose of shading himself, he is whoppingly elated at having the qiqayon which is providing protection. What about this vomiting of vomit makes him so happy?
Can it merely be coincidence that in verse 2:10 there was the fish which vomited Jonah out onto dry ground and then there is this descriptive word being used in an object lesson for him to see and understand? The Lord has used him in this story to teach himself, and thus Israel, a lesson. Will he learn? Will they learn?
7 But as morning dawned the next day God prepared a worm,
vay’man ha’elohim tolaat baalot ha’shahar la’makhorat – “And appointed the God a worm as arose the dawn to next day.” Now another thing is prepared. But this time it is not by Elohim or Yehovah Elohim. Instead it is by ha’elohim, or “the God.” As not one of the 21 translations I referred to includes this, I assume neither does yours. Therefore, please place the word “the” in front of “God” in your Bible. We are being told something.
“The God” appointed a tola, or a crimson grub worm, at the shakhar or dawning, of the mokhorath, or “next day,” to do something. This is, as Albert Barnes notes, “…in the earliest dawn, before the actual sunrise.” Three words are used for the last time here. It is the last of 25 times for the shakhar, the last of 43 times for the tola, and the last of 32 times for the mokhorath.
Why is it so specific about the time of the day? It could have just said, the next day, couldn’t it have? But a specific type of worm is named, and a specific time of day is too. These are specific for a reason. This is some object lesson!
7 (con’t) and it so damaged the plant that it withered.
va’tak eth ha’qiqayon va’yibash – “…and struck the qiqayon and withered away.” This was indeed some tola! That worm didn’t just damage the vomiting vomit, it completely destroyed it until it was dry. What on earth is the God telling Jonah here?
8 And it happened, when the sun arose,
vay-hi kizroakh ha’shemesh – “And happened as rose the sun.” The word “rise” is zarakh, which indicates to shoot forth beams, appear, and thus to rise. At this moment something new occurs…
8 (con’t) that God prepared a vehement east wind;
vay’man Elohim ruakh qadim kharishit – “…and appointed God wind east deafening.” Now we return to the word Elohim without the article. He appoints an east wind, but it is an east wind which is described by a word, kharishi, used only here in the entire Bible. It is so obscure that the great Hebrew lexicographers, Brown-Driver-Briggs denounce the meanings provided by other scholars as unacceptable, and then they say, “…meaning wholly dubious. We make no attempt to explain.”
I, however, have translated it, as did James Strong, from the word kharash, a word bearing several meanings. He chose “scorching” to which I disagree. It means “deafening.” This is connected to the word kheresh, or “deaf.” And this is exactly what is being pictured, as you will see. In the Middle East, the east wind is known as the khamsin. It is an extremely hot wind that is described in the book River God by Wilbur Smith as follows –
“The king’s voice was frantic, but I paid it no heed, for there was a mighty roaring in my ears, like the sound of the khamsin wind…”
Concerning the word manah, translated here as “prepared.” This is the last time it is used in the Old Testament. It means “appointed.” It was used four times in Jonah – 1:17, 4:6, 4:7, and 4:8. He appointed the dag gadol or “fish whopping” to swallow Jonah. He appointed the qiqayon, or “state of vomiting vomit” plant. He appointed the tola, or “crimson grub worm.” And He appointed the ruakh qadim kharishit, or “deafening east wind.”
8 (con’t) and the sun beat on Jonah’s head,
va’tak ha’shemesh al rosh yonah – “And struck the sun on head Jonah.” Without the protection of the qiqayon, Jonah is now struck on his head by the direct beating of the sun. It is an extremely sad state of affairs for Jonah, who has received pain and anguish while waiting for what he thought would be the destruction of the Gentiles there before him.
8 (con’t) so that he grew faint.
va’yitalaph – “so that he veiled himself.” Every single translation of this verse except Young’s says “fainted,” “grew faint,” etc. But, Young’s says, “…and he wrappeth himself up.” He did this because the same word, alaph, is used in Genesis 38:14 this way –
“So she took off her widow’s garments, covered herself with a veil and wrapped herself, and sat in an open place which was on the way to Timnah; for she saw that Shelah was grown, and she was not given to him as a wife.”
The word alaph is used here for the last of only five times in the Bible. It comes from a primitive root which means to veil, or cover.” Jonah did not faint; he veiled himself as an Arab would in the oppressive khamsin.
8 (con’t) Then he wished death for himself, and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.”
va’yishal eth naphsho la’mut va’yomer tov mo-ti me’khaiai – “…and begged with his soul to die, and said, ‘Good my death than my life.’” Jonah came to the point where his misery had overcome him. Life had become so miserable, that death was preferred over life itself. It is a repetition from verse 3 even before the object lesson was presented.
9 Then God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?”
va’yomer Elohim el yonah ha’hetev kharah lekha al ha’qiqayon – “And said Elohim unto Jonah, ‘The correct, burning anger to you for the qiqayon?’” As we saw in verse 4, all translations except Young’s say something like, “Is it right for you to be angry.” But this is incorrect. Young’s translates this verse “Is doing good displeasing to thee, because of the gourd?”
However, this seems to make no sense. “Why would the destruction of the qiqayon be good, and why would it seem evil to Jonah?” This is what Sergio asked. Unless one understands the object lesson, it seems mistranslated, but it is not.
Notice here that in contrast to verse 4, which this verse parallels, it says Elohim instead of Yehovah; God instead of the Lord. Why would this be? The answer lies in who God is in relation to the people of the world, and who the Lord is in relation to Israel. The destruction of the qiqayon is what is right, and it is even necessary. Jonah, however, disagrees…
9 (con’t) And he said, “It is right for me to be angry, even to death!”
va’yomer hetev kharah li ad mavet – “And said, ‘good, burning anger to me, unto death.’” He stubbornly confirms that in the case of the good of what he is being presented, he is furious about it. He would rather die than see this good come to pass. It is a sentiment seen to this day with the people of Israel – 2000 years later.
This verse contains the last time Jonah’s name is mentioned in the Old Testament. He was the son of Amittai from Gath Hepher. In picture, he is Dove, the son of Truth of the Lord, from the Winepress of Shame. The dove, the symbol of “mourning love,” is perfectly realized in Jonah here. With the death of the qiqayon, the object lesson is ended. Now the Lord speaks again…
10 But the Lord said, “You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night.
va’yomer Yehovah atah khasta al ha’qiqayon asher lo amalta bow v’lo gidalto sebin laylah hayah u-bin laylah abad – “And said Yehovah, “You pitied on the qiqayon that no did perform, and no magnified, which a son of a night was, and a son of a night perished.’” Only Young’s gives a literal translation of this verse. It says “son of a night,” to indicate lasting only one night.
The qiqayon, the state of vomiting vomit, came up and Jonah did not perform or fulfill in that process. Instead, it came as a son of the night and it was destroyed as a son of the night. This is the last of 11 uses of the word amal, or “labor,” in the Bible. It is used only by Solomon except this one time. Each time he uses it, it is in relation to futile labor, except when it is in relation to what God has done.
11 And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city,
va’ani lo akhus al Nineveh ha’ir ha’gedolah – “And I, no pity over Nineveh, the city the whopping.” Jonah is worried about the qiqayon, even to pity. But the Lord contrasts that pity to His pity over something of true value. The great city whose name means “Offspring’s Habitation,” has human inhabitants; people whom He created who He feels are far more worthy of His pity. Verses 10 and 11 have the last two of 23 times that khus, or pity, is used in Scripture. And what a marvelous use of them to show the contrast between man’s priorities and that of the Lord!
11 (con’t) in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons
asher yesh bah harbeh mishtem esreh ribo adam – “which exists in greater from twelve myriads man.” The translation as 120,000 is to be rejected. The term here is “12 myriads.” In 1 Chronicles 12:37, 120,000 people are noted as meah v’esrim aleph. Here the number is mishtem esreh ribo. Obviously they don’t sound the same because they are not the same. Instead of 120,000, it says “12 myriads.” The word ribo indicates an indefinitely large number. Again, only Robert Young rightly translated these words.
What I will propose to you now is, as far as I know, without precedent. No scholar that I am aware of has come to this conclusion, and yet it is exactly what is being relayed. One has to presuppose that this is speaking of the people in the city. It is not. Scholars have struggled over the number, knowing it is not correct. The size of the city does not justify this amount of people.
And so they back-interpret the words to mean “innocent people” meaning children who have not participated in the sins of the city. That is without basis, and it is not supported by Scripture which teaches inherited sin in all people. When the Lord destroys a city, he makes no distinction between young and old. But how else to explain the obviously incorrect number and translation?
Rather than referring to those in Nineveh, it is speaking of the twelve tribes of Israel. As soon as Sergio said, “This doesn’t say 120,000, but 12 with a descriptor attached to it, the entire passage fell into place. The phrase is comparative, not descriptive. In other words, the city of Nineveh, capital of, and thus emblematic of the great Assyrian Empire, is greater than the 12 tribes of Israel. This comparison continues in the final words of the book of Jonah…
*11 (fin) who cannot discern between their right hand and their left—and much livestock?”
Asher lo yada ben yemino lishmolo u-behemah rabbah – “…which no discern between their right hand and their left; and many ignorant fools.” This verse is set in contrast to Jonah 3:7. It is speaking of the people of Israel, not those in the city. In the giving of the law, the term “to the right hand or to the left” was spoken to Israel, indicating that they were to know what is right and to do it –
“Therefore you shall be careful to do as the Lord your God has commanded you; you shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.” Deuteronomy 5:32
This is repeated again in Deuteronomy 17 –
“According to the sentence of the law in which they instruct you, according to the judgment which they tell you, you shall do; you shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left from the sentence which they pronounce upon you.” Deuteronomy 17:11
And it was repeated to them in the chapter of promised blessings and curses as well in Deuteronomy 28:14 –
So you shall not turn aside from any of the words which I command you this day, to the right or the left, to go after other gods to serve them.”
The people in the city were given the word of the Lord, and they discerned what was right immediately. Israel had been given the word of the Lord for hundreds and hundreds of years, and the record shows their continual failing to discern right from left.
And the record also shows one more thing about them which is realized in the words u-behemah rabbah, or “and beasts abundant.” This is speaking of the foolish people of Israel, not the animals of Nineveh. The entire passage is speaking metaphorically. The animals in Nineveh were adorned in repentance along with the people of the city. However, time and again, in the psalms, Ecclesiastes, and the prophets, the ignorant and foolish of humanity are compared to beasts –
“I was so foolish and ignorant;
I was like a beast before You.” Psalm 73:22
The passage in Isaiah 30 concerning the “beasts of the South” is speaking of the foolish people of Israel, and Peter uses the same term, “beasts,” in 2 Peter 2 when speaking of the foolish and perverse. Paul and Jude likewise use this terminology. Again, this is speaking of those in Israel who were ignorant fools.
The seemingly anticlimactic finish of the book of Jonah is, instead, a strong and resounding rebuke to the people of Israel. Correctly translated, it says, “And should I not pity Nineveh that great city, in which exists more than twelve myriads of man, who cannot discern between their right hand and their left, and many ignorant fools.” Israel failed to heed; Nineveh repented. It is a picture of Israel and the church. One rejected the Lord and His salvation, one quickly and decidedly turned to both.
Now, before we have these verses explained to us, I’d like you to note that in the story, God specially prepared four different things to guide or control Jonah. It says that He “appointed” a fish, a plant, a worm, and an east wind.
Each of these is a different agent of God’s creation – one a sea creature, one a plant, one a land creature, and one form of natural phenomena. In other words, the Bible is recognizing that God is sovereign over each of these aspects of creation. In essence, all of creation is at His bidding in order to accomplish His plans in the process of redemption. With that in mind we are ready to evaluate the meaning of the rather difficult verses found here in Chapter 4.
A fish to swallow a man at sea
A qiaqyon to cover that same man for some shade
A worm to destroy the qiqayon, it withered completely
Thus You destroyed what You once had made
And then a deafening east wind, it rages aplenty
While the sun beat down on the man’s head
There he sat in complete misery
There the man said he was better off dead
But is it right that he should be so upset?
Is it right to be so angry about the qiqayon?
The man says, “Yes!” “Certainly!” And, “You bet!”
But maybe he wouldn’t if he knew what was being shown
And so now we will look into what these things mean
Yes, now we will be shown was is meant to be seen
II. The Object Lesson Explained
Jonah has pictured both Christ and His work and Israel, here he is a picture of Israel, the people. Their history is being depicted in the object lesson given to him. In verses 1-3, Jonah was angry at the repentance of the Gentiles, wishing their destruction. In verse 4, he was asked, “Is doing good a reason for you to be furious?”
In order to wake him up, He is next given a snapshot of their entire history. Jonah, picturing Israel, went out to the east of the city. As I said, it is the place of exile. It is the place of wandering and the place of disobedience to God. It is the place where destruction comes from. Israel stems from Adam as do all people. All are in exile and are separated from God, Israel and Gentile alike.
There Jonah built a sukkah, a tabernacle. It is a dwelling place. Abraham was brought into Canaan by the Lord and lived as pilgrim, as did Isaac, and Israel. They established themselves as a people. Canaan the land, and Israel the people, became their own dwelling place and place of protection.
While there in the land, and even in Egypt, they dwelt as a people separate from the Gentiles. They simply lived and watched what would happen to the world living around them, just as Jonah did from his sukkah. But the Lord had more for them than a dwelling which they established.
In verse 6, Yehovah Elohim, the Lord God, prepared a qiqayon. It is the Law of Moses, prepared by the Lord God. This is why the full term Yehovah Elohim is used there. It is the covenant Lord who is the Creator God who established and oversaw it for them. He formed it as a protection over them. The Ten Commandments were given from Yehovah Elohim, the Lord God.
However, the name applied to this symbol tells all we need to know. The qiqayon, or state of vomiting vomit, was intended as a means of being restored to God, where life would result from death, if the law could be but fulfilled. The Lord said in Leviticus –
“You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them: I am the Lord.” Leviticus 18:5
Paul cites this verse in Romans 10. But nobody could fulfill the law. And so God’s law was only given as a temporary measure, not as a permanent fixture. It was only a protection, a guardian, for Israel. Paul explains this in Galatians 3:23-25 (NIV) –
“Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. 24 So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.”
The qiqayon was Jonah’s guardian; the law was Israel’s. This is why the term tsel, or shade, was used in both verses 5 and 6. Israel has built its own protection, but the Lord built a further one for them, there in the east, or in the place of exile and judgment.
However, the law was never meant to last. It was temporary and found an end in the tola. The question is, “Which is greater – the great shading qiqayon, or the worm?” Well, what does the tola picture. I asked Sergio that, and without batting an eye, he said, “Christ.” He had paid attention to the Exodus sermons. In the 22nd Psalm, a messianic psalm written by David which speaks of the work of the Lord, including His cross, we read this –
“But I am a worm, and no man; (tola)
A reproach of men, and despised by the people.
7 All those who see Me ridicule Me;
They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,
8 “He trusted in the Lord, let Him rescue Him;
Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!” Psalm 22:6-8
Concerning the tola, Henry Morris writes the following –
“When the female of the scarlet worm species was ready to give birth to her young, she would attach her body to the trunk of a tree, fixing herself so firmly and permanently that she would never leave again. The eggs deposited beneath her body were thus protected until the larvae were hatched and able to enter their own life cycle. As the mother died, the crimson fluid stained her body and the surrounding wood. From the dead bodies of such female scarlet worms, the commercial scarlet dyes of antiquity were extracted. What a picture this gives of Christ, dying on the tree, shedding his precious blood that he might ‘bring many sons unto glory.’ He died for us, that we might live through him!” Henry Morris
This is why the term ha’elohim, or “the God” was used to describe the preparation for the tola. The God, the personal God, personally attended to the preparation of the body for Christ to dwell in and accomplish His work. This is seen in Hebrews 10 –
“Sacrifice and offering You did not desire,
But a body You have prepared for Me.
6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin
You had no pleasure.
7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come—
In the volume of the book it is written of Me—
To do Your will, O God.’” Hebrews 10:5-7
The tola came forth to do its work with specificity. It said, “as morning dawned.” It was “in the earliest dawn, before the actual sunrise.” That is the resurrection of Christ as seen in the gospels. Matthew says the women went to the tomb as the day began to dawn. John says that it was still dark when they saw the stone rolled away. Christ’s work was finished in His work on the cross, but it was proven so in the resurrection. The law was struck and died in that glorious moment.
From that time on, only judgment can result from remaining attached to the law. This is why vomit is always negative in the Bible with one exception, vomiting Jonah onto the dry ground. Jonah pictured Christ in death and resurrection. The grave could not hold Him and it literally had to spew Him out of its grasp.
However, the law, the state of vomiting vomit, still holds sway over those who rely on it. Peter, speaking of false teachers, including those who would set aside the grace of Christ and return to the law, are like dogs who return to their vomit. When they do so, only judgment can be the result.
This is seen next in the lesson with the east wind. This was prepared, not by ha’elohim, or “the God,” but rather simply by elohim. The personal connection to Israel’s God is lost. Now, they are under God’s judgment, and thus the definite article is dropped from the narrative.
This east wind is described with that exceedingly rare word which nobody has been able to adequately describe, but of which I correctly translate as “deafening.” I chose this because the root implies it, and because the symbolism is realized in Paul’s words to the Jews who rejected Christ. At the end of Acts, he cites Isaiah, saying –
“Go to this people and say:
‘Hearing you will hear, and shall not understand;
And seeing you will see, and not perceive;
27 For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.”’ Acts 28:26, 27
And again, Isaiah, in a passage speaking of the coming Messiah, says this –
“Hear, you deaf;
And look, you blind, that you may see.
19 Who is blind but My servant,
Or deaf as My messenger whom I send?
Who is blind as he who is perfect,
And blind as the Lord’s servant?
20 Seeing many things, but you do not observe;
Opening the ears, but he does not hear.” Isaiah 4:18-20
Further, wind also symbolizes doctrine – both correct and false doctrine. The spirit of God directs proper doctrine, but man directs false doctrine. Paul speaks of this in Ephesians 4:14 –
“…that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting…”
In addition, wind symbolizes that which is temporary and vain. In the 78th Psalm, it is used to show that which is temporary –
“For He remembered that they were but flesh,
A breath that passes away and does not come again.” Psalm 78:39
Isaiah shows that the wind symbolizes that which is vain –
“Indeed they are all worthless;
Their works are nothing;
Their molded images are wind and confusion.” Isaiah 41:29
The Lord sent His east wind, the wind of judgment upon Israel. It is the time of their being cursed for rejecting Christ. It is the Gentile-led church age, symbolized by Nineveh’s repentance and turning to God. They are the offspring of God through the work of Christ, just as the name Nineveh means. It is a marvelous picture which is being developed for us to pay heed to and to understand.
The word for the east wind, kheresh, is tied directly to the kharishi, or “deafening” wind which Jonah experienced. The people had grown deaf to the Lord’s call because they clung to the law. The judgment of God’s raging and deafening east wind was a self-inflicted wound. And the next judgment follows along with that, the beating of the sun on Jonah’s head.
In the law, the Lord promised Israel to be the head, not the tail if they were obedient to Him. As they rejected Christ, they brought the curse down upon themselves. The Sun of Righteousness, Christ, instead of favoring them, beat down on their head. In response, what did Jonah do? He veiled himself even further. He wrapped himself in the law and added in the Talmud. Paul describes the veil –
“Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech— 13 unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. 15 But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. 16 Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.” 2 Corinthians 3:12-16
After the east wind, Jonah cried out that death was more preferable than life. He had clung to the law, a law which Paul describes as bringing death, because through it sin is made manifest. And when sin enters, death is the result. He explains this throughout his letters, but sums it up with these words –
“And we have such trust through Christ toward God. 5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, 6 who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” 2 Corinthians 3:4-6
Jonah, typical of Israel, testifies that he would rather die under the law than live under the grace of Jesus Christ. This is why in verse 9 God, not the Lord of verse 4, asked, “Is doing good a reason for you to be furious because of the qiqayon?” The question is not asked from the covenant Lord Yehovah whom they have rejected. It is asked from God the Creator.
They are outside of the covenant and are being asked directly, “Do you find the ending of the law, which was accomplished by My Son, a reason to be furious?” Their answer, to this day, is Jonah’s response, “Yes, doing good is reason to be furious because of the state of vomiting vomit.” They believe they can fulfill the law and reenter God’s presence on their own.
Christ is rejected by them, and they are out of His favor because of this. This was seen in the contrast between Jonah and the sailors before he had his epiphany. The Gentile sailors had said –
“We pray, O Lord, please do not let us perish for this man’s life, and do not charge us with innocent blood; for You, O Lord, have done as it pleased You.” Jonah 1:14
However, the Jews said this at Jesus’ crucifixion –
“His blood be on us and on our children.” Matthew 27:25
The Gentiles had come to fear the Lord because of Jesus; the Jews had rejected Him because of Jesus. And so, they will have to endure many troubles before they are brought, once again, into covenant relationship through the New Covenant. Thus the object lesson ends and the Lord speaks his final words.
Yes, it is Yehovah, the covenant Lord, who completes the words of the chapter. He signifies that His pity has gone out to the Gentiles, represented by Nineveh, or “Offspring’s Habitation.” The Gentile world has become the Lord’s offspring through faith in Christ.
In His last words to Jonah, and thus to Israel, He notes Israel’s pity on the qiqayon, the law, which he says they have been unable to even perform. The word He spoke, amal, is used only by Solomon, and always to indicate the vain labor of man apart from God. His words concerning the qiqayon were that Jonah, representing Israel, was unable to perform, or fulfill. This is why that word was chosen. None could fulfill the law; none but Christ.
He next said that the qiqayon, the law, came up as a son of the night and it was destroyed as a son of the night. This is referring to its effects. It can bring nothing to light. But Christ can. This is why Paul says this in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-5 –
“But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. 2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness.”
Only Christ, not the law, can make one a son of the day. The object lesson of the qiqayon, (the law) the tola, (the crucified Christ) and the ruakh qadim kharishit, (the deafening east wind) there outside of Nineveh, indicates that there are far more souls to whom His pity extends than just the 12 tribes of Israel who have been unable to tell their right hand from their left, and among whom are many ignorant and foolish beasts who willingly reject the grace which He has offered through His completed work on Calvary’s cross.
This is the lesson of the book of Jonah. This is what is revealed in the obscure, and wholly misunderstood, words of this precious, marvelous book. For us, it is either the law which kills, or the grace of Christ which makes alive. God showed grace to the Gentiles, the Jews wanted the law which Christ ended. They were angry at the ending of the law, but God’s grace has been extended to any and all who will receive it. If you do, you also will be vomited out of the grave some wonderful day, all because of the work of Christ Jesus.
But it was evil to [the] Dove (meaning Israel) exceedingly, and he was kindled with anger.
2 So he prayed unto Yehovah, and said, “I pray Yehovah, was not this what I said when I was still in my ground? Because it was so, I hastened to flee to the White Dove (Tarshish); for I know that You, God, are gracious and merciful, slow to get into a huff and abounding in covenant loyalty, and comforting concerning the evil.
3 And now Yehovah take, I pray, my soul. To me, it is for good my death [rather] than my life!”
4 And said Yehovah, “Is doing good a reason for you to be furious?”
AN OBJECT LESSON IN ALLEGORY AND METAPHOR
5 And [the] Dove (meaning Israel) went from the city and sat in the place of wandering and disobedience. And there he made a sukkah and sat under its protection, until he might see what would come to pass concerning the city.
6 And appointed Yehovah Elohim a qiqayon (meaning the law), and caused [it] to ascend over [the] Dove (meaning Israel), that it might be protection for his head, to deliver from his wickedness. [The] Dove (meaning Israel) concerning the qiqayon (meaning the law) was joyful whoppingly.
7 And appointed THE GOD a tola (meaning the crucified Christ) at the dawning of the next morning, and it struck the qiqayon (meaning the law), and it withered.
8 And happened as rose the sun (meaning the dawning of God’s new economy, the age of grace), and God appointed wind east deafening (meaning Israel could no longer hear). And struck the sun on the head of [the] Dove (meaning Israel), so that he veiled himself (meaning Israel had wrapped itself in the law). And begged with his soul to die. And said, “Good [is] my death than my life.
9 And said God unto [the] Dove (meaning Israel), “Is doing good a reason for you to be furious concerning the qiqayon (meaning the law)?
And [he] said, “Doing good is a reason for me to be furious, even to death.”
10 And said Yehovah, “You pitied the qiqayon (meaning the law) that you were unable to fulfill, and did not magnify; which a son of a night was, and a son of a night perished” (meaning the law brought nothing to light).
11 And I? No pity over the Offspring’s Habitation? The city, the whopping? (referring to the Gentile world). Which exists more than 12 myriads of man (meaning the twelve tribes of Israel), which cannot discern between their right hand and their left (meaning transgressors of the law); and many ignorant fools (meaning the willfully disobedient).”
The book of Jonah, the Dove typifies the “mourning love” which God feels for the people of the world. So much so, that He was willing to step out of His heavenly abode and come walk among us. Let us cling to the grace of God which is found in Jesus Christ our Lord, and may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
Closing Verse: “For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, 19 for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.” Hebrews 7:18, 19
Next Week: Leviticus 1:1-4 We hope you will find this new book fun… (The Burnt Offering, Part 1)
The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. Even if a deep ocean rages against you and is ready to swallow you up, He can send delivery to you in the most remarkable of ways. So follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.
The Law and Grace – An Object Lesson
So Jonah went out of the city and sat
On the city’s east side
There he made himself a shelter and sat under it in the shade
Till he might see what would become of the city
What would the Lord decide?
And the Lord God prepared a plant
And made it come up over Jonah assuredly
That it might be shade for his head
To deliver him from his misery
So Jonah was very grateful for the plant
But as morning dawned the next day
God prepared a worm
And it so damaged the plant that it withered away
And it happened, when the sun arose
That God, a vehement east wind prepared
And the sun beat on Jonah’s head
So that he grew faint; thus he fared
Then he wished death for himself, and said
“It is better for me to die than to live; I’m better off dead!”
Then God said to Jonah
“Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?”
And he said, “It is right for me to be angry!
Even to death! So, Jonah continued his rant
But the Lord said
“You have had pity on the plant, an insignificant plight
For which you have not labored, nor made it grow
Which came up in a night and perished in a night
And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city
In which are more than a giant herd or flock
One hundred and twenty thousand persons
Who cannot discern between their right hand and their left
And much livestock?”
Lord God, thank You for grace; glorious grace
Thank You for fulfilling what stood opposed to us
Thank You for turning towards us Your marvelous face
As we behold our Savior, our precious Jesus
And Lord, we pray for those who still choose
To cling to the law which is dead; withered away
Open the eyes of Israel, all of the Jews
Call them back to Yourself, this we pray
And for any others who have left Your grace
Clinging to the law in a hope it will please
Turn them away from that terrible place
And to reconciliation through Christ
Who alone can Your wrath appease?
Lord God, thank you for this wonderful book
Jonah! What a marvel to have studied it
Into every detail possible we took a look
And to You our thanks and praise we now submit!
Hallelujah to Christ our Lord!
Hallelujah for Jonah, a marvelous part of Your superior word!
Hallelujah and Amen…