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Fillmore Study Bible—Jonah

Jonah and the Whale (1621) by Pieter Lastman
Jonah and the Whale (1621) by Pieter Lastman

Call to mind someone in your life who struggles with human passions. The person may be acting out because of stress, overeating to soothe emotions, overspending to compensate for low self-esteem or entrapped in relationships to feel wanted. You know what I mean. It may be a child, a spouse, a parent, a boss, a friend, a pastor. Or it may be you.

No matter who it is, we know that person's name—it is Jonah. The book of Jonah is about what it life is like without a mindset of divine love. Jonah represents a phase of spiritual consciousness which sees the enormity of evil and the dire consequences of evil. Jonah falls short because he allows himself to be intimidated by the seeming mightiness of evil, and fails to appreciate the redeeming power of eternal Good. So Jonah represents a state of mind without divine love, set in cause and effect, under which error sowing cannot be redeemed or forgiven. At the end of the story, Jonah is consumed with anger. Let's explore how we deal with human passions—of others and of our own—as perceived by Charles Fillmore and his students.

The human passions that is the source of Jonah's shame and anger is Nineveh—the seat of natural, animal forces in human body consciousness. Nineveh’s people, our base human instincts and those of people we know, are not willfully wicked. The fact that human passions are active is an indication of the first manifest expression of the truth that the human spirit, soul and body are not bound by limitations of matter. They await spiritual instruction to turn away from the outer and the material.

Our internal Jonah has two choices to make. First, is will we engage our human passions and the passions of others or will we detach from them?

As the story goes, Jonah chose to run away. He caught a ship going west, when Nineveh was to the east. He was so detached that a mighty wind, life currents that surround the whole being, arose and Jonah soon found himself nearly drowning in the sea of his subconscious mind. He so much dreaded engaging what he perceived as human evil that he asked to die. After being rescued by a fish sent by God, Jonah repents and goes into an extended affirmative prayer. So God has the fish spit him out onto dry land in the direction of Nineveh. So much for Jonah’s strategy of detachment.

Jonah, having learned his lesson, resolves to go to Nineveh and to engage human passion. This resolution presents Jonah with his second choice: Should he respond with compassion or judgment?

Here is where our internal Jonah is likely to sabotage all the New Year resolutions we make. He bursts into the city and declares that because of human evil, “Nineveh shall be overthrown in forty days.” It's right there—Jonah wants Nineveh to be a 40-day wonder. He is judgmental, dogmatic and unaware that repentance can alter or wipe out the consequence of sin. Surprising to him, the king of Nineveh chooses to repent. The redeeming power of eternal Good raised the king's understanding to the spiritual level and both people and beasts of Nineveh were saved from destruction. That is an important lesson for all of us who approach the New Year with resolutions to shape up.

God tries to nudge him to a place of compassion, but, as the story concludes, Jonah couldn’t rise enough to a place of peace. Jonah is able to engage the human passions, but in the end he was not able find peace in his soul. True peace, as know well from our Fillmore teachings, is always from a change in heart. So this isn’t just a child’s story about a whale. But it is a story that can penetrate a child’s heart and soul with a powerful message about peace.

This story reminds me about a time in my life many years ago when my two children were doing what little children do—making a mess. A song was playing on the cassette player called See Me Beautiful by Red Grammer. Here are the words:

See me beautiful
Look for the best in me
It's what I really am
And all I want to be
It may take some time
It may be hard to find
But see me beautiful

See me beautiful
Each and every day
Could you take a chance
Could you find a way
To see me shining through
In everything I do
And see me beautiful

© 1986 Smilin' Atcha Music, Inc.
Written by Red and Kathy Grammer

I hope you click through on the link to Red and Kathy Grammer and listen to See Me Beautiful. And I hope you buy the song and listen to it whenever you find yourself judgmental about yourself and others. Perhaps our human passions and the human passions of those we know are calling out to us, saying in their own way “See Me Beautiful”. It may be that the fundamental message of Jonah is in verse 3 of the final chapter: “thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and abundant in lovingkindness.” If so, the better choice is to compassion, not judgment, even when God’s mercy and lovingkindness swallows us up and spits us out where we would rather not be.

Eduardo Rodriguez

We now have three books annotated in the Fillmore Study Bible. Last week Eduardo Rodriguez, a pilot and a student of Christian metaphysics from Sanford, Florida, sent me annotations for all four chapters of Jonah. He now becomes member #2 of The Fillmore Bible Society. Thank you, Eduardo!

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Sunday, January 6, 2019

Jonah—Fillmore Study Bible by Mark Hicks.

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