Chapter 10 begins a multi-chapter explanation of something the Book of Jonah brushes over in a single verse: Jonah 1:3, the prophet flees to Joppa. The Bible offers no other explanation or detail about that trip. It doesn’t even tell us the prophet’s starting point – just his hoped-for destination, Tarshish, and his end result, Joppa. In the novel, this trip starts with Benjamin’s solo journey to find the Dove. His trek allows readers to walk across ancient Israel and experience many different challenges travelers then faced.
Benjamin discovers unexpected fortitude through this trial, all drawn from his service with Hosea: “It awakened within my heart new independence, a sense of initiative, and the budding confidence that I could actually accomplish good things with my own two hands.”
We often experience similar blessings when we dedicate ourselves to God’s service and will. Have you such stories to share?
This trip also confronts Benjamin once again with God’s “invisible” qualities, which abound in open display along his path. They contribute to another step forward in his spiritual growth.
In an age when a lone traveler faced ever-present danger from bandits and carnivores, Benjamin encounters help time and time again. He presses on, feeling an emphasis to move despite rising blisters and aching muscles. This climaxes with a clear command from God to run. It spurs Benjamin to wonder if it took such deep, numbing fatigue to clear away obstacles his mind throws before him or the Lord. More questions spring forth:
“Funny, isn’t it? How silly it is to try to figure out why the Lord does what He does, as if we could ever understand His ways? And even if we could, would that knowledge truly make any difference? I now tend to think such curiosity does more harm than good. Many a time I’ve witnessed strong-hearted men put such great effort into debating the intent of God’s will, they would actually forget to do God’s will. They lose their way in all the interpretations and juxtapositions.”
How would you respond to this? Have you experienced such problems or concerns?
As often happens during spiritual awakenings, temptation interrupts in unexpected, heartfelt ways. In the midst of finding Jonah, Benjamin encounters a beautiful woman. Courteous, engaging, she helps him deal with the Dove, whose despondency mixes with defiant anger to unnerve the weary traveler. The young man awakens to find Jonah gone – and the lady’s open appeal to his heart. Though charmed, he realizes her distractions could sidetrack everything Hosea sent him to do, and so Benjamin leaves to track down the Dove.
What do you think of Benjamin’s actions? Have you endured any situation like this?