The book of Jonah is historical, an account of Jonah’s ministry, not an allegory or a parable. Jonah is mentioned in 2 Kings 14:23-25 and by our Lord Jesus in Matthew 12:38-41 and Luke 11:29-32. Scientific study has found it possible for a whale to swallow a man and for a man to survive in the belly of a whale, just as it happened to Jonah. However, the most important lesson to remember from Jonah’s wayward experience is that disobedience to the will of God is costly and a waste of time.
Jonah’s prayer in chapter two of Jonah’s book, contain important components of communication with God.
Confession, praise and repentance.
Jonah changed his mind about obedience to God’s call. Repentance can be a change in how we respond to life, day by day, moment by moment; recognizing and resting in the comfort of God’s sovereignty.
Chapter three of Jonah’s book tells of a second chance to deliver God’s message to the people of Nineveh.
Jonah “shouted to the crowds: ‘Forty days from now Nineveh will be destroyed!'” (v.4).
The people believed. From the greatest to the least, the entire city turned from their evil ways so God did not destroy them.
God’s mercy multiplied from one repentant prophet to thousands of repentant Ninevites.
“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and understand the truth. For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity-the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone.” 1 Timothy 2:1-6
Chapter four of Jonah’s book is packed with a powerful lesson about attitude and perspective. Jonah was angry about God’s mercy toward the Ninevites. God provided an object lesson through a plant, which gave shade from the hot desert sun; a worm which demolished the plant; and then a scorching wind that made Jonah so miserable he longed to die.
“Then the Lord said, ‘You feel sorry about the plant, though you did nothing to put it there. It came quickly and died quickly. But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?’ (v.10-11).”
In perspective, the eternality of people must have priority over the perishable.
Hendricks, Howard. BBN Bible Institute. Jonah. bbnradio.org
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.