This chapter adds a bit of material to the Book of Jonah, telling us what the ship of Tarshish did after the Dove departed. The answer follows general Phoenician shipping laws, which required captains who lost their cargo to return to port and report what happened. This sets up Benjamin’s exploration of Tyre and its island refuge. That in turn establishes the heart of this chapter: Benjamin’s advancement from spiritual novice to ministry, which makes him a counter to Jonah. Where the Dove refused to minister to outsiders, Benjamin volunteers. He questions his qualifications and capabilities, yet does what he can.
In this, Benjamin’s insecurities mirror those of many believers today. Do you experience similar concerns when discussing your faith? How do you share your belief and testimony?
Of course, Benjamin’s guilt over Jonah’s death fed some of his doubts: “If I had sincerely tried to understand Jonah, to share his heartache, would he have fallen?”
Have you felt that way in any of your past relationships?
As Benjamin learns, effective ministry involves a bonding of sorts – opening your heart and soul to those around you. Sometimes we fear the risk and vulnerability this involves, and yet it often takes such honest transparency and caring to break down barriers and win trust. As The First says, “When you share such peril, you share your heart. Such bonds rarely break.”
Saln’s home contains a variety of recorded histories and wisdom. This library impresses Benjamin, though he soon dismisses it. “With the wisdom of Solomon and the Temple, the words of Yahweh, the laws of Moses, I had enough to learn to fill several lifetimes,” Benjamin tells his pupils. “Against that, the thoughts of men were of no consequence.”
How many people feel this way today? Perhaps few did then, considering Saln’s next question. “All the places I have traveled, all the things I have learned, yet only now have I found the truth,” says the First. “Why do you think that is? Why does not the world share His truth?”
How would you answer this?