The Book of Jonah is different from other books in the Old Testament because it centers solely around a Gentile nation – meaning Jonah is the only Testament prophet whose ministry took place on foreign soil. Neneveh was a world empire that thrived for around 300 years – around 900 to 60 BC.
God calls upon Jonah to travel to the wicked people in Nineveh to preach, but the prophet refuses and chooses to instead go aboard a boat and move in the opposite direction. God never lets Jonah out of His view, and eventually brings the prophet back to a location where he can minister – the place that he originally wanted Jonah to go to.
The Book of Jonah is broken down into four chapters and is written by the prophet Jonah who most likely penned the Book between 793 and 758 BC. In the first chapter, Jonah is running from God – boarding a ship that is heading in a different direction than to the place that God wishes him to minister. Chapter Two shows Jonah running to God. In Chapter Three, Jonah is running with God. Chapter Four shows Jonah running ahead of God.
When Nineveh does repent, Jonah is not as happy as one would think he should be. He is not thankful for this act, and Jonah eventually winds up learning a lesson. When Nineveh repents during the preaching of Jonah, the city is allowed to thrive for another 150 years until the Babylonians rebel against the Assyrians in 626 BC. Eventually, the city was overthrown 16 years later in 612 BC.
Key Themes of Book of Jonah
Key themes that appear in the Book of Jonah include disobedience and revival. When Jonah is inside the belly of the whale, he receives a different view on the topic of deliverance as he repents for not accepting his fate to minister upon God's request. His initial reaction to disobey God leads to his self-revival, as well as the revival of the Ninevites. Some will say that Jonah is linked to the best evangelistic attempts in the Bible.
Book of Jonah Passages
Passages that illustrate the theme of the Book of Jonah include:
"But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish..." (Jonah 1:3)
"But the LORD provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights." (Jonah 1:17)
"In my distress I called to the LORD, and He answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry." (Jonah 2:2)
"When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, He had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened." (Jonah 3:10)
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