There are two main messages found in the book of Jonah: First, it shows what God is like in His love toward pagan nations. Second, it displays God’s grace, truth, and mercy towards Jonah even though he tried to run from God. God’s grace is greater than Jonah’s and is sufficient to save even the most grievous sinners of the Ninevites. Throughout the entire book, we see God teaching Jonah that He is a God of compassion.
In Jonah, God is glorifying Himself through His compassion, so that He might demonstrate His superior goodness in the salvation sinners, the damnation of the wicked, and for the preservation of His people for His eternal glory, and their eternal joy.
It is not clear who wrote the book of Jonah. However, the author clearly knew a lot about Jonah, even down to the very words that he prayed while he was in the great fish, making it probable that the author was Jonah himself.
Jonah most likely prophesied during the reign of Jeroboam II over Israel (793–753 B.C.).
“Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, ‘Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.’ But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.”
“Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; do not let them eat, or drink water. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?”
“So he prayed to the Lord, and said, ‘Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm. Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live!’ ”
Jonah is a type of Christ. The three days and three nights that Jonah spent in the belly of the fish are given to us as a picture of the three days and three nights that Christ spent in the tomb before His resurrection (Jonah 1:17; Matt. 12:39–40).
Who was Jonah?
He was one of the earlier prophets, living in the northern kingdom in a small town near Nazareth, in Galilee.
What do we learn from the book of Jonah?
It declares to us what God is like and what happens when we run away from Him. God is full of grace and truth and His grace is greater than all our sin.
When was Jonah’s prophecy written?
793–753 B.C. – During the reign of Jeroboam II.
What city was Jonah commanded to go to?
Nineveh (Jon. 1:2).
Where did Jonah go instead of Nineveh?
Tarshish (Jon. 1:3).
What happened while Jonah was at sea?
The Lord sent a great wind, which caused a mighty tempest (Jon. 1:4).
What did the mariners ask Jonah to do when the storm was raging?
They asked him to call on his God (Jon. 1:6).
How did the mariners determine who caused the storm to come upon them?
They cast lots (Jon. 1:7).
What did Jonah tell the mariners to do to him?
He told them to throw him into the sea (Jon. 1:12).
What did the Lord prepare to swallow Jonah?
A great fish (Jon. 1:17).
How long was Jonah in the belly of the fish?
Three days and three nights (Jon. 1:17).
What did Jonah do while he was in the belly of the fish?
He prayed to the Lord his God (Jon. 2:1).
What happened after Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights?
The Lord spoke to the fish and it vomited Jonah onto dry land (Jon. 2:10).
What did Christ say the account of Jonah in the belly of the fish is a picture of?
His own death and resurrection (Matt. 12:40).
What did God command Jonah to do after the fish vomited him onto dry land?
To go preach to the people of Nineveh (Jon. 3:1–2).
What did Jonah do after God commanded him to go to Nineveh the second time?
He arose and went to Nineveh (Jon. 3:3).
What was Jonah’s message to the people of Nineveh?
He said Nineveh would be overthrown in 40 days (Jon. 3:4).
What was the response of the people of Nineveh to Jonah’s message?
They repented (Jon. 3:5–9).
What did God do after He saw the people of Nineveh repent?
He relented and did not bring disaster upon them (Jon. 3:10).
What was Jonah’s response when God had mercy on Nineveh?
He became angry (Jon. 4:1–3).
How did the Lord teach Jonah through the death of the plant?
He exposed Jonah’s hypocrisy in having pity on the plant but not on the people and cattle that lived in Nineveh (Jon. 4:10–11).