Insight Into The Minor Prophets: Jonah
The Background of the book:
Jonah was the son of Amittai who lived during the reign of king Jeroboam the 2nd (795 – 753 BC). His ministry falls just after Elisha and before Amos & Hosea. This short book tells of how the Lord sent Jonah to go to Nineveh, a city full of paganism, to announce that the Lord would destroy the city within 40 days. Jonah is the story of a man running and fighting against the presence of the Lord.The story of Jonah being swallowed by a fish is probably one of the most well known stories in the scriptures but dig deeper, study the life & attitude of this prophet and there are so many lessons to be learned.
During the life of the Lord Jesus he made mention to the events of this book in Matthew 12-39-41. In referencing this book the Lord not only draws an important parallel between Jonah being 3 days in the belly of the fish with His own death and burial for 3 days and nights but in recounting the story of Jonah he gives proof that these were actual events and not just a made up event.
But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshishfrom the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord. – Jonah 1:3
“I called out to the Lord, out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice.”– Jonah 2:2
When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it. – Jonah 3:10
The book of Jonah shows the greatness of mercy and saving hand of God. “Salvation is of the Lord” was the cry of this poor prophet as he sat alone and far from God but he also would experience the saving hand of God in a very close and special way as the Lord turns from judging the people of Nineveh after they repent. A great application to the gospel is seeing how the Lord despises and reacts to the sin of the city of Nineveh.
Jonah did everything humanly possible to flee from the presence and will of God. He did not want to do what the Lord desired for him and his hardened heart led him away from the Lord. In all Jonah did it was not enough that grace and mercy did not follow him as the Lord continues to deal with Jonah. Could it be that we in our lives fight, at times, against the Lords plan for us? Could we go to such great lengths as to make plans and decisions all to avoid what we know the Lord wants of us?
Secondly we see that many of Jonah’s problems were an issue of his heart! In the last chapter of the book it is a solemn account of a man who has lost all joy in seeing the Lord work. His heart had become so cold that he worried more over a shrub then the souls of the people. It is a lesson in how we can be drawn to things that simply do not matter in comparison to the value of eternal and spiritual things around us.