Napsal(a) Helen Kennedy
Billy Graham once said that the whole of Jesus' ministry could be summed up in two words; Come and Go.
COME to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)
GO and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19)
In the beginning of the Book of Jonah, chapter 1, we have a story about what happens when you do the first step, but not the second. Jonah was supposed to go preach the gospel -- the monotheistic worship of Jehovah -- to the people of Ninevah. Swedenborg tells us that the verses in Jonah 1:1-2 are about the people of Israel, who had received the Word - but wouldn't go out and share it amongst the nations.
In Jonah 1:4-6, peoples' spiritual knowledge declines, and begins to perish. It happens both in the land of Israel, and in the wider world.
Here are some key symbolic elements in this account:
- A ship represents the knowledge of good and truth useful for life (a church). (Apocalypse Revealed 406)
- A sea, storm and wind represents Hell and its influence. (Apocalypse Revealed 343)
- To be asleep means to be deluded by our own glory. (Arcana Coelestia 147)
In Jonah 1:7-9, the people who lived outside the land of Israel had some perception that their own spiritual knowledge was lacking, and they it had led to a collapse of their spiritual state. As Swedenborg puts it, "the state of the church was perverted among themselves".
When they perceived this, they also came to understand that they needed to reject falsified truths that they were getting from the Jewish church at that time, and pray to the Lord for salvation, to try to restore real worship, real spiritual love and wisdom.
Drawing lots, or playing a game of chance, represents pulling truths apart. (Arcana Coelestia 9942.13)
In Jonah 1:10-13, throwing Jonah into the sea represents the rejection of that hollowed-out church, to make way for a new church. Then, in Jonah 1:14-16, when the people in the boat pray unto the Lord for salvation -- it works! They are saved from foundering and drowning.
What's the takeaway for us? If we're getting false ideas from our neighbors, we need to perceive it, and stop. We need to identify our false beliefs, and reject them -- throw them into the sea. Then, we need to pray for salvation -- and then a new "church" can start in us, too, personally, with renewed spiritual life. And, when we come to the Lord, and experience spiritual "rest", then we can also go share our new true ideas and good loves with our neighbors -- coming, and going.
Here's a link to an interesting (audio) sermon on this chapter, by Rev. Todd Beiswenger.
Finally, here's a link to Rev. McCurdy's Study Guide for the Book of Jonah, which is available for free as a .pdf, for your use.