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Old Testament Survey

Jonah




Key Verses

2:8, 9
3:10
4:2


Key Chapters

Chapter 3


Key Concepts

Sovereignty
Prepared


Thoughts for Reading

Running from God is no fun.
God is faithful to forgive all who truly repent.


Jonah 3:10
And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.

Title -- Author

The book is named after God’s prophet, Jonah, whose name probably means “dove.” Jonah’s prophecy needs to fall between the reign of Jerobaom II in the Northern kingdom (793-753 B.C.) and the destruction of Nineveh in (612 B.C.). This means that Jonah, Amos, and Hosea were all active at the same time and their ministries came just before Isaiah’s.

With the advent of modern criticism which views miracles as non-events, several forms of interpretation are suggested for this book. Some see Jonah as an allegorical picture of Israel’s fall to Babylon. There is nothing, however, in the book to suggest this as a basis of interpretation. Further, the giant fish is a means of deliverance for Jonah, while Babylon was clearly a means of punishment for Israel. Also, allegories in the OT have unmistakable indications of their allegorical nature (Eccl. 12:3ff; Jer. 25:15ff; Ezek. 19:2ff; 24:3ff; 27:3ff; Zech. 11:4ff). Jonah has none of these indications.

Some see Jonah as a parable. This is unlikely because the work lacks all of the normal characteristics of a parable. There is no setting which affirms if it is such a story. It does not contain a generic introduction as do most parables. Jonah is much more complex than the average parable. The moral point is not explained nor made clear. Compared to other Old Testament parables, the account of Jonah lacks the traits of a parable (Judges 9:8ff; 2 Sam. 12:1; 14:6; 1 Kings 20:39ff; 2 Kings 14:9).

Jonah is mentioned by name in 2 Kings 14:25.

This leaves the only one option for Jonah. It is a historically accurate account of a true prophet of God. The central reason for wanting to have the story be an allegory or a parable is the unwillingness to accept the miracle of Jonah in the belly of the fish. In support of this being a true account is the “realness” of Jonah and Nineveh. The details of the account and the reactions of the sailors’ all fall within a normal historical framework. The book begins with a standard formula for the prophets – Jonah 1:1:
“Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying.”

The New Testament provides the final support for Jonah being a true historical account (Matt. 12:39-41; 16:4; Luke 11:29-32).

PURPOSE

Although frequently used as the example of the reluctant worker of God, the book really emphasizes the value of repentance and justifies the message of the prophets. Even a Gentile nation is cared for by God and will receive the blessings of God when it repents. God’s concern is for all people and not just Israel. God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Salvation is from God and is available even for those in rebellion.

The book does also teach about the need to submit to the Lord’s command. God’s plans are higher than ours (Isa 55:8, 9) and we frequently do not understand the workings of God. When we are a part of God’s plan and we fail to cooperate, He will drag us along any way. Isn’t it better to walk with God than to ride in the belly of the fish? How often are we like Jonah and allow our spiritual pride to deprive us of golden opportunities to work for God’s kingdom?

The structure of Jonah falls around two parallel calls of the prophet from God (1:1- 3 & 3:1-3). In each Jonah responds to God, but not in the same way. In each, Jonah encounters pagans who are forced to consider the power of God (1:4-11 & 3:4-10). Jonah is then required to confront God because of his attitude (1:12-17 & 4:1-9). Each section ends with God providing deliverance (2:1-9 & 4:110-12). In the first section, God delivers both the sailors and Jonah. In the second, God delivers both Nineveh and Jonah.

Jesus in Jonah

Jesus uses Jonah as the sign of His resurrection (Matt 12:40). Jesus is the prophet to the Gentiles and is the Savior of the nations. Jonah himself is a type of the history of the Jewish nation. He is also a type of Christ in that he is a “sign” to the Jews and the world (Luke 11:29, 30). Jonah’s description of God is a description of Jesus.

Jonah 4:2
And he prayed unto the Lord, and said, I pray thee, O Lord, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.

Matthew 9:36-38
But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. [37] Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; [38] Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.

Ultimately, Jonah is a book about the priorities of our concerns and compassion. Jonah believed salvation was for the Jews and no one else. He worried more over the vine than he did the Ninevehites.

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: [11] 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?

Where is your compassion directed?

What are your priorities?

 

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December 10, 2019

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