We’ve walked through the entire narrative of Jonah. Now we’re taking a “big picture” look at the Book of Jonah in light of the good news of Jesus Christ. Jesus tells us that the Old Testament bears witness to him (Luke 24:44). So what does Jonah have to do with Jesus? How does the Book of Jonah point us to Jesus Christ as our only hope?
Chapter 4 begins with Jonah’s angry response to God for the mercy shown to Nineveh. He knows God is gracious and loving, but doesn’t enjoy seeing such love extended to his enemies. In fact, Jonah is so bothered by God’s love toward Nineveh that he asks God to take his life. But God, still pursuing Jonah, teaches Jonah a lesson about his love. Does Jonah see his pride and embrace God’s love? Or does he continue in self-centeredness? The book of Jonah ends without revealing Jonah’s response, and in doing so invites the reader to ask, “How will you respond?”
Jonah is given a second chance to bring the word of the LORD to the people of Nineveh. This time, Jonah listens and faithfully proclaims the message. While chapters 1 and 2 show the miraculous rescue of Jonah through the God-appointed fish, chapter 3 shows another miracle; the wide-scale repentance of an entire city. The wicked people of Nineveh repent upon hearing the prophet’s message. God shows great mercy by withholding judgment against the people of Nineveh.
Jonah has been thrown overboard and rescued by God who sent a great fish to swallow him up. He miraculously survives in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights. Chapter 2 captures Jonah’s desperate prayer from inside the belly of the fish. Jonah is brought to a place of spiritual desperation, a place where he can recognize his great sin and God’s great grace.
The Book of Jonah begins with God calling the prophet to go and proclaim a message of judgment against the people of Nineveh; Israel’s enemies. Instead of obeying Gods command, Jonah takes a boat in the opposite direction. While on the journey a tumultuous storm threatens the lives of all on the ship. Jonah, knowing the storm is from God, acknowledges his rebellion against God and is thrown overboard. Just when Jonah thinks his life is over, the LORD sends a great fish to swallow up Jonah. He remains in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
Jonah is a strange book. After all, a man is swallowed by a fish and survives. But don’t quickly write off Jonah. Jesus himself referred to Jonah as a historical person (Matthew 12:39-41) and 2 Kings 14:25 tells us that Jonah lived during the time of Jeroboam II. The focus of Jonah is unique compared to other prophetic books. The book is not so much about the message of the prophet, but about the prophet himself.