This chapter gives readers their first look at the leaders of Israel and Aram, a neighboring kingdom ruled then by Assyria. Did Jeroboam II fit your expectations? How often do you find preconceptions match your reality?
In bitter debate, Jonah rattles off a long list of political and economic challenges facing Assyria. These mirror historical realities. Ansephanti – better known historically as Rezin – counters the Dove’s points with slurs and slights, which Jonah brushes off. “Unbelievers cannot insult us,” he says. “Their words mean nothing.”
Why is it so hard for us to follow such wisdom?
Throughout this exchange, the king gives Jonah full reign to negotiate with the Assyrian, just as he empowered the Dove to command his armies. Jeroboam holds his composure throughout these talks until Ansephanti threatens Jonah’s life. Only after the governor is led away does the king turn his anger against the Dove.
Why would a man known for doing “evil in the sight of the Lord” give such power to the Lord’s prophet? Do you think such cooperation and compromise remain possible in today’s world, much less its politics? Or is this another example of compartmentalization – in this case, the ability to accept something when it’s necessary or beneficial, then set that something aside when it is no longer needed?
Ansephanti tempts Jonah in much this way, offering peace in exchange for the prophet’s faith in God. But the prophet sees through the governor’s false hope, which his opponent admits with another jab: “I know your kind. You wish us dead. All dead! Ahh, but in truth, I do not blame you, for I would have no peace with such as you.”
How often have you encountered such grievances, where both sides admit to prejudice, even hatred?
With the talks ended, Benjamin realizes the fate he fears may be at hand. He seeks protection from Jonah, only to be told to go back and wait on God… “Have faith, Benjamin, and He will provide.” Many proactive people today may see such talk as insufficient, even insensitive. Have you ever received such instructions? What did you do?