This chapter draws from the author’s imagination. The Bible tells of no imprisonment or torture. However, this would fit the political challenges of the times, considering what follows.
Benjamin shares how the prison environment so unraveled him, he “felt little relief” when raising his voice to God. Have you ever found it difficult to hear the Lord’s voice or feel His presence? How did this impact you? How did you respond?
Hopefully none of you have endured such anguish or pain simply because you believed in God, although these trials seem ever more common. As Benjamin shares, it’s so hard not to lose all hope under such attacks. Despair rises, and temptations strike at the heart.
“But in the depths of my despair was my Lord, a foundation the rages of Lucifer will never crumble,” Benjamin tells us. “And this last time, there was also Jonah.”
May you ever have such a foundation, and such a friend, if you endure such stress. In the depths of their heartache, Jonah drew Benjamin to worship, joining together to read the 23rd Psalm, and sing. “As the Dove reminded me of what is truly essential in this world, the worship of our Lord, I felt a renewal, or actually, a rebirth,” Benjamin tells us. “I knew I was not only forgiven, but beloved. And that, my friends, exceeds the grandest gift this world will ever offer.”
Have you ever experienced such a renewal? What Bible verses do you fall back on for strength and sanctuary? Does singing provide you a refuge?
“We sang together, praising God,” Benjamin tells us. “How long did it last? It did not matter, for we were one with the Lord. Indeed, it was somewhat of a disappointment when the flicker of a torch shocked my blinded eyes. So comforted was I in the Lord’s presence, I did not wish to be disturbed!”
Benjamin shows his humanity when, so fresh after experiencing our Lord, he recoils in fear at renewed Assyrian threats. Have you ever endured such a fall? I have chastised myself for such weakness, which is probably not fair – for example, the Bible shares how Elijah, a great prophet, feared the threats of Jezebel even though he had just witnessed God’s power before the prophets of Baal. We are all human, vulnerable to weakness, coercion, pain, starvation, and terror. And as Benjamin will learn, God is ever there, ready to forgive and comfort the weary, wounded, and weak – especially when trials await us.
In this chapter, readers meet Adad-nirari, also known as Pulu and Pul – a figure of biblical consequence, as Jonah reveals through veiled prophesy: “In all his plans he writes death. Yet he sees not the death of his own people.” While this looks forward in The Jonah Cycle, the Dove’s next words bring his vision home: “We walk now the last steps of our ministry, Benjamin. The people are repentant, the government not…. Before the king, we shall see which side will triumph.”
Have you ever found yourself standing at destiny’s edge, certain what would follow would change your life? Did this thrill or terrify you? Did your fate indeed turn? How much time did it take?