Theme: There are two themes. One is primary and the secondary theme is in response to the primary theme. The primary theme is God’s grace for sinful Gentiles and rebellious prophets. The secondary theme is the repentance of a great Gentile city that turned to God under the preaching of the prophet Jonah. It is interesting to note that even though this preaching was reluctant, God still blessed His word. Date: The middle 700’s B.C.
Author: The prophet Jonah. His name means “a dove,” and his father’s name means, “truthful” (1:1). Note that not only do historians speak of the prophet Jonah, but a further confirmation that this man lived and prophesied is that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself referred to him and called him a prophet (Matt. 12:39-41). Not only did Christ affirm Jonah’s office, but He also affirmed the validity of the factual experience that Jonah had in the great fish. In fact, Christ used the time period of Jonah’s experience in the fish as a symbol of His experience in the tomb. So, those who turn this book into an allegory with spiritual lessons are in danger of impugning the character of Christ. Jonah was from a city in the southern end of Galilee, which seems interesting since, at the time of Christ, the leaders of Israel had forgotten this fact and proclaimed that “no prophet had ever come from Galilee.” (John 7:52)
Story Line: The story line is probably one of the most familiar stories to most Bible readers. God called Jonah to go to Nineveh and denounce her wickedness and to pronounce His judgment upon the people. Jonah did not want to go, since he figured if he went, Nineveh would repent and God would not judge them. So he fled by boat in the opposite direction, fearing that the success of his preaching would cause God to show mercy. Now this fact of Jonah’s harshness needs to be seen in the light of the fact that Assyria was Israel’s arch enemy and Jonah was a very nationalistic prophet. (2 Kings 14) God, in His sovereign greatness, put Jonah through the experience of being swallowed by a great fish, so that Jonah would come to the place of doing what God wanted him to do. After three days, the fish spit him out on dry land, and God again called Jonah to preach against Nineveh. This time he went. His message that Nineveh would be over-thrown in 40 days was as powerful as it was brief. The entire city repented, and God revoked His judgment against them. Then this nationalistic prophet became angry with God. God caused a plant to grow up to shade Jonah, and then He caused the plant to die. Jonah again, angry with God because he needed the shade, but God again used this incident to teach him a lesson about forgiveness and mercy. God pointed out that Jonah was more concerned about a plant than he was about a city with more than 120,000 inhabitants. If we had to sum this all up, we could say that Jonah got mad with God because God didn’t live up to Jonah’s expectations. What a lesson for all of us to learn.
Recipients: Not specifically stated. The ministry described in the book was to the great Gentile city of Nineveh, which was the capital of Assyria. In form, this book is entirely different from the other prophetic books of the Old Testament. Instead of being devoted to direct prophecy to specific recipients, it gives a personal history of Jonah’s dealings with God and teaches all of us lessons in an indirect fashion.
1) To show God’s love for the Gentiles, as well as for Israel and to illustrate His work among the Gentiles.
2) To show the Old Testament requirement for salvation for Gentiles.
3) To show Israel’s true purpose as exemplified in Jonah.
4) To provide a typical picture of the witness of the Jewish remnant in the last days.
5) To show God’s method of dealing with His own disobedient servant.
Highlights: There are great spiritual truths we can trace through this book:
1) Though God had a special relationship with Israel during the Old Testament times, He did not abandon His compassion for other nations.
2) In Jonah’s experience with the fish, Jesus Christ saw the sign pointing to His own burial.
3) Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be blessed in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
4) God’s love and mercy are for all. 5) God’s children should obey Him first of all because of love for Him.
6) God needs human servants to carry His message. It is interesting that the key word is “prepared”. God prepared a wind (1:4), a tempest (1:4), a fish (1:17), a gourd (4:6), a worm (4:7), an east wind (4:8), but He called a man.
7) Trace the downward journey that Jonah made in not doing God’s will. It’s an intriguing perspective.
8) The sovereignty of God.
9) Chapter 4:2
I. Jonah fleeing (ch. 1)
II. Jonah praying (ch. 2)
III. Jonah preaching (ch. 3)
IV. Jonah pouting (ch. 4)
Closing: We would remind or inform you that Pastor Rich preached expositionally through Jonah from Sept. 16 - Nov. 18, 2012. You can find these messages on the website podcast, or by contacting Cindy in the office, who also can provide you with the notes. We would remind you of the seven observations Pastor Rich made while preaching through Jonah.
1) God is more concerned with “people” than “projects”.
2) God is more interested with manifesting His grace than His judgment
3) Where sin abounds ~ Grace abounds more
4) It is all about God ~ Not us
5) God gives grace to “losers” but resists the “winners”
6) The Gospel is God’s ultimate Shalom
7) What is Revival? Sharing ~ Hearing ~ Believing ~ Obeying God’s Word and Turning from self to the Living Word !