Metaphysical meaning of Jonah (mbd)
Jonah (in A. V., Matthew 12:39, Jonas), jo'-nah (Heb.)--a dove; dovelike; warmth; affection; lovable; loving; fruitful; productive; fertile; effervescent; fermenting; passionate; oppressive; violent; intoxicating; destructive.
When error effects are revealed to one by the prophetic faculty of mind, which is open to receive the outpicturing of thought causes, one should fearlessly tear away the error and immediately proclaim the saving Truth, in the spirit of forgiving love. "Jonah" must be glad and must rejoice in omnipotent good.
The prophetic state of mind, on its highest plane, is a dove, a declarer of ultimate peace and good. When it functions on the intellectual or personal plane, it becomes oppressive, destructive, in that it proclaims evil and disaster continuously, and when this belief in evil becomes intensified on the bodily plane it destroys itself.
Jonah signifies an error sense of justice and right in individual consciousness that prophesies evil to the evildoer and condemns him without mercy or saving grace, because love and mercy do not enter into its idea of justice and Truth. Unforgiving thoughts, which in one form or another are back of all evil prophecies, react on the thinker and cause him to have hard experiences.
Whoever expects failure, bad luck, or ill of any kind in body or affairs is a Jonah. Some persons are so mentally charged with thoughts of this character that they cast gloom and a feeling of failure all about them. Theatrical companies often detect a Jonah among their number and throw him overboard for the safety of the troupe. For this they are called superstitious, but it is not superstition; they live in a highly charged mental atmosphere that is very sensitive to adverse thoughts, and they feel more acutely than people in the more material states of mind.
There is a reaction to every prophecy of evil, because the fundamental law of Being is good, and the outcome of every thought and act under its law is a higher perception of that good. Therefore upon him who prophesies evil, or does evil, must be hurled back the force of his effort to defeat the supreme law of good. When Jonah felt this reaction coming upon him he tried to run away from it; but it so affected his field of thought that the equilibrium of nature was disturbed and storms ensued. Some people are so dense that they do not feel the reactions of evil; but Jonah represents one who is spiritually quickened and alive in both the conscious and the subconscious minds.
Jonah thought the people of Nineveh ought to be punished for their sins. One who believes that evil is punishment for infringement of divine law will have to meet hard conditions in mind and body. When the conscious mind casts out the evil thought it falls into the subconscious mind, the ocean or waters of life, where it is swallowed up by a great fish, or idea of increase. There Jonah was in hell with remorse and anguish. This realm also refuses to entertain him, and he is thrown upon the dry land (surface of the body).
The Lord does not desert those who have once given themselves to Him, so Jonah is watched over, in all his wanderings, by the infinite good. The people of Nineveh repent and are forgiven; therefore the evil that Jonah has prophesied upon them does not come to pass--and Jonah is angry. This shows another phase of the shortcomings of those who seek to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit, yet are ambitious for the fulfilling of their prophecies. They call down upon the people the vengeance of God, and are angry if the people escape the threatened catastrophe. Jonah sulks in his childish pride. The Lord is tender, but firm, and He causes a gourd to grow so that it shall be a shadow over Jonah's head to deliver him from his grief. The word rendered gourd is "kikayon," the castor-oil plant, a native of Asia, now naturalized in America. The symbol is the pouring out upon him of God's compassion and healing love. "Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows" (Heb. 1:9). "So Jonah was exceeding glad because of the gourd" (last clause of Jonah 4:6). Here again is the tendency of the personality to look to effects rather than causes. Jonah is glad to have the benefit of the gourd plant, but fails to acknowledge its source.
Again Jonah had to be reminded of God's wisdom and power. The "worm" smote the gourd and it withered, and the sun beat upon Jonah until he wished himself dead. He who works from a selfish standpoint is frequently disappointed in results and then is ready to abandon everything. The "worm" signifies conscience, the inner monitor that shows our selfishness in its true light--a withered plant. So he who is ambitious and zealous for his work in the Lord to bear fruit just as he has planned, and for his personal benefit, regardless of the larger good that might come to humanity through other channels, will eventually find himself like Jonah, "angry, even unto death."
The true prophet must see as God sees--that only the good is true. Evil and all its effects pass away when men repent, and the compassion and love of God should always be proclaimed to the sinner. By asking, the suffering one may obtain forgiveness; and he who is soul-sick may receive the divine compassion.
"Should not I have regard for Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand, and also much cattle?" (Jon. 4:11). "If ye had known what this meaneth, I desire mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless" (Matt. 12:7).