Jonah - The Unwilling Prophet

  • Jonah, the son of Amittai, came from the tribe of Zebulon in the northern kingdom of Israel and was from the village of Gath-hepher, located about two miles northeast of the city of Nazareth. Nothing is known of Jonah, except what is learned about him from this book and a brief statement made about him in II Kings 14:25.
  • Nineveh was located on the east bank of the Tigris River, about 550 miles from Samaria, capital of the northern kingdom. It was protected by a wall fifty feet wide and one hundred feet high.
  • This book was probably written sometime between 785 and 750 B.C., which was during the reign of Jeroboam II as king of Israel. Israel’s northern kingdom was restored by Jeroboam II. At the same time, the Assyrians, whose capital city was Nineveh (a city of 120,000), were flaunting their power before God and the world through numerous acts of heartless cruelty. It is said that this capital of Assyria was the largest city in the world in that day and was a definite threat to the existence of Israel. So, when Jonah heard God tell him to go to Assyria and call the people to repentance, he ran in the opposite direction.
  • Jonah hated the Assyrians, and he wanted vengeance and not mercy. Because of this, he ran the other way. However, God had a job for Jonah to do, so he caused him to change his mind after spending three days in the fish’s belly. After this, Jonah decided to obey God. He preached in the streets for Nineveh, and the people repented and were delivered from judgment. At this point, Jonah sulked because God didn’t bring judgment on the people.
  • As you read Jonah, you can see the full picture of God’s love and compassion and realize that no one is beyond redemption. It is great to know that the Gospel is for all who will repent and believe (II Peter 3:9).
  • Jonah is the only prophet that Jesus likened to Himself (Matthew 12:39-41). Jonah’s experience is a type of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.
  • It is interesting to note that of all the things mentioned in this book-the storm, the lots, the sailors, the fish, the Ninevites, the plant, the worm, and the east wind-only the prophet himself fails to obey God.

A suggested outline for the book is:

  1. Running from God: Disobedient prophet (chapter 1).
  2. Running to God: Disciplined prophet (chapter 2).
  3. Running with God: Docile prophet (chapter 3).
  4. Running behind God: Disgruntled prophet (chapter 4).