The Book of Jonah
Jonah 1:9-12 - And he said unto them, I [am] an Hebrew; and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry [land]. Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him, Why hast thou done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them. Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous. And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest [is] upon you.
Jonah 4:10-11 - Then said the LORD, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night: And should not I spare 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?
The Old Testament - A Brief Overview
Bible Survey - Jonah
Hebrew Name - Yonah "Dove"
Greek Name - Ionas (Greek form of the Hebrew)
Author - Jonah (According to Tradition)
Date - 862 BC Approximately
Theme - God's Mercy on Nineveh
Types and Shadows - In Jonah Jesus is the One crying out
Jonah was sent by God to warn the people of Nineveh that God was going to judge them. Rather than go Jonah chose to flee in the opposite direction, because the Assyrians were cruel and wicked. Jonah boarded a ship that was found for the city of Tarshish when a great storm came in a time of the year that the storms do not happen. The sailors finally agreed at Jonah's request to throw him overboard, and when they did a great sea monster prepared by God swallowed Jonah. After a period of three days Jonah repented and agree to obey the Lord and the sea monster released Jonah on the third morning. Jonah came to the land of the Assyrians and pronounced God's judgment upon Nineveh, and as a result the people of Nineveh repented at the preaching of Jonah and God spare the city. Afterward Jonah was very upset that God would spare such a wicked city and that he would show mercy on the Gentiles ( non-Jews). Jonah observed a plant and learned a lesson about God's love for all mankind. - The above text is © Rusty Russell - Bible History Online and must be sourced for use on a website.
The book of Jonah is about an event that Jesus said took place in history. The man Jonah was the main character of the book, he was the son of Amittai (Jonah 1:1), and a native of Gathhepher, which was a city of the tribe of Zebulun in the northern Galilee region. Jonah was a prophet of the Lord and he was called to deliver a message of repentance to the city of Nineveh which was the capital of the Assyrian Empire. The Assyrians were among the most wicked peoples of the ancient world, and they were well-known for their cruelty. Jonah refused to go and boarded a ship bound for Tarshish, which at that time was the farthest part of the Mediterranean Sea, Spain. A violent storm emerged out of nowhere and the sailors had no choice but to cast Jonah overboard, at his request. Jonah was suddenly swallowed by a great sea monster which had been prepared by the Lord for this purpose.
Jonah, being alive in the belly of the great sea monster considered himself in the "belly of Sheol" and finally agreed to obey God. After he was released from the great fish he came to Nineveh and preached God's judgment crying, " yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown" (Jonah 3:4) and when the people of Nineveh heard this they repented and God spared the city. Jonah became very angry at God because a Gentile nation, and such an evil one, would receive mercy from the Lord. God taught Jonah an important lesson about his love and mercy for all mankind, by the lesson of the gourd.
God probably chose the Assyrians to receive his mercy because they were the most wicked, and the lesson needed to be learned that God is a God of mercy to everyone, even the most wicked.
Later Jesus spoke about Jonah as a type of Christ. As Jonah was in the belly of the great sea monster for three days and for three nights and was released the third day (Jonah 1:17 and Jonah 2:10), so Christ was in the heart of the earth (Hades) for three days and three nights and be raised the third day (Matthew 12:40-41).
It is interesting that the very place where Jonah boarded the ship was Joppa, the same city where Peter in the New Testament was called by God to come and share the good news about Jesus Christ to a Gentile man who lived in Joppa named Cornelius (Acts 10).
Outline of the Book of Jonah
The contents of the book may be analyzed further as follows:
1 - Jonah hears his call and flees
2 - Jonah cries out to God from the "belly of Sheol"
3 - This time Jonah obeys and Nineveh repents
4 - Jonah's lesson about God's mercy
The Book of Jonah