In the last post I expressed how Jonah (whose name means "dove") was rejected as a sacrifice because God sent the fish to save and protect Jonah. The interpretive jump then was to the speculation that in the story of Jonah, God is rejecting the need for sacrifice all together. An idea that I am sure has been fleshed out elsewhere, but this post I want to share just another bit of Jonah greatness.
On the boat, it is clear that the sailors are looking for the cause of the violent seas. However all their searching to find the person responsible was just that - looking for someone else other. Not one sailor verbalized they may be part of the problem. All their finger pointing was to finding someone else to blame. Surely they are not part of the problem, right?
We do this. When there are "sea" of life becomes violent and out of control, we tend to be like the sailors and think that someone else must be to blame for the problems and difficult situations we find ourselves in. We tend to think that our contribution to a difficult situation is mild at best and if it were not for "the other person" life would not be so messy.
Sailors look to scapegoat others for the problems.
Which is why the actions of the king of Nineveh is so remarkable. He, and by extension the entire city, do not know why there is a pending calamity coming to their city but they all take a share of the blame. From Jonah 3:6-10
"When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.Then he had a proclamation made in Nineveh: ‘By the decree of the king and his nobles: No human being or animal, no herd or flock, shall taste anything. They shall not feed, nor shall they drink water. Human beings and animals shall be covered with sackcloth, and they shall cry mightily to God. All shall turn from their evil ways and from the violence that is in their hands. Who knows? God may relent and change his mind; he may turn from his fierce anger, so that we do not perish.’ When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it."
The Ninevites do not look to blame others. They do not sacrifice a dove (like the sailors did at Jonah's direction). They did not look to find an alternate scapegoat. They covered themselves in ashes and sackcloth.
Nineveh looks inward and humbly accepts they might have been part of the problem.
It is my prayer that we all might be less like a sailor and more like a Ninevite.