Today we read Jonah’s name in 2 Kings 14:25. Jonah was from Gath-hepher, a town right outside Nazareth (Jesus).
I bet many of you began reading about Jonah and the big fish when you were young, if not reading it…hearing stories about him…and if neither of those you have probably heard of his name. However, the book of Jonah tells the story of this prophet’s attempt to run from God’s will for him. BUT God stopped him and turned him around. Jonah’s story is truly a beautiful story of undeserved mercy and grace …. to both Jonah and to the Assyrians in Nineveh.
After we read this Scripture together, you will never think of the book of Jonah or the man Jonah the same again. You will forevermore see what a BIG God we serve. The book of Jonah shows us God’s BIG….ABUNDANT…mercy and grace and how the FACT of SALVATION has ALWAYS been intended for EVERYONE.
Nineveh was the capital of Assyria. Nineveh was a VERY LARGE city and VERY perverted…God was NOT on their agenda. They didn’t WANT him part of their lives. Jonah KNEW how bad they were and didn’t want to go and convert them. Yet God wanted them to know HIM and praise HIM. The Assyrian’s were Gentiles!!! God wanted EVERYONE to have salvation EVEN in the OT!!
Jonah wrote this book. It was written specifically to the people of Israel but truly for God’s people EVERYWHERE in ALL GENERATIONS!! It was written in approximately 785 – 760 BC. Jonah preceded Amos and ministered under Jeroboam II during Israel’s time of prosperity. Israel’s most powerful king (793-753 BC.)
The book is about Nineveh, the capital of Assyria. The Assyrians were a huge and cruel nations. They were warriors that built their kingdom on their pillage from other countries. Their morals were horrible…if they even existed!! They skinned men alive,
cut out their tongues, gauged out their eyes for fun, dismembered their bodies, and then made mounds of the skulls as decorations in their empire. Nineveh was situated in the East Bank of the Tigris. This city was rich and powerful! I guess you can say, they had no need for God.
Assyria was Israel’s biggest enemy and was conquered by them in 722 BC.
Although Nineveh’s repentance happened, it must have been short lived because it was destroyed in 612 BC.
A special feature of this book is that tells the story of the prophet rather than focusing on the prophet’s prophesies. We see his emotions and how God uses him, in-spite of himself.
Many scholars are divided over whether this book is fiction, an allegory, a parable, or a prose poem. However, I have no doubt that the story is exactly as it reads. If God says it, it is true. Jesus reaffirms the story in Matthew 12:38, comparing the time spent in the huge fish to own resurrection! If Jesus accepts the Jonah story, I accept the Jonah story.
SO a quick summary of what you are about to read. Jonah gets “called” to Nineveh, this cruel horrible city to denounce wickedness of the people. Jonah says, No and gets on a boat and heads in the opposite direction. Why? Does he think….
Is he afraid of these awful people?
Thinks what’s the point, they won’t change anyway?
If God’s own Chosen People won’t choose God and repent, why would these people?
NO that is not why he goes the other way!!! He goes the other way because he KNOWS God and He knows that if he is sending him on a mission then He is at work! And they probably will repent and be forgiven and he does not want that. Jonah hated the Assyrians.
This story is not about a fish, it is about God’s Love. God’s Mercy. God’s Grace. His love extends to the whole world, even the worst people in the world. We all have that one person in our life that we say “Oh, they will never become a Christ Follower, they will never change, they are hopeless, they are HORRIBLE people?.” Well read this story and watch our BIG, loving, gracious, merciful God at work in the lives of the one people on this earth that didn’t want God.
As you read this story… dig deep… spend some time in the belly of a whale (one on one with God) and come out a different person.
Sharing HIS love,