As we come to consider the 'runaway' prophet, it is my prayer that we all know the God of Jonah in our day… “a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness…” both for ourselves and for our families. JONAH-prophesies before the Assyrian Captivity! (2 Kings 14:25 & 2 Kings 15:29)
Distinctions are rightly made between the dispensation of Law and Grace, but that does not mean that there is an absence of grace in the Old Testament. Strictly speaking, a dispensation is not the time period so much, but how God is working in the time. Great examples of grace are seen in the Old Testament in God’s dealings with… Rahab the Harlot… Ruth the Moabitess… Ahab king of Israel (in not letting him see the judgment in his day) … Manasseh king of Judah. In Jonah, God’s super abounding grace is seen in His dealings with Nineveh the capital of Assyria, an implacable enemy of God’s people. Nineveh was 500 miles North East of the Sea of Galilee on the banks of the Tigris River. A City of 60 miles in Circumference, walls 100 feet high, with 1,500 turrets and wide enough for 3 chariots to ride abreast
Two matters are foremost in our minds as we come to the book of Jonah.
As to Jonah personally, a representative of the nation of Israel.
The ways and heart of God as he considers the nations of the Gentiles.
In 2nd Kings 14:25 we learn that Jonah was from Gath-hepher and prophesied of the enlarging of Israel under Jeroboam II son of Joash. This is more than a story for children, presenting a clear dispensational message relative to the nation of Israel. Like the nation of Israel Jonah was:
Chosen of God to represent Him and to do His service… Deut 14:2.
Commissioned by God… Israel should have been the servant the light and the witness… Isaiah 42 & 43. Will be literally fulfilled in the day of Messiah’s glory.
Disobedient… the nation lost the promises of Exodus 19:5-6.
Scattered among the nations, Mariners… Israel scattered among the nations/heathen Deut 4:27.
Through Jonah… They come to the knowledge of God… so too the nations.
In the sea, Jonah preserved. Israel over the centuries… In Exile… Against all the odds preserved.
Jonah restored-back in the land! Restoration… Times of the Gentiles NOW… Christ will be enthroned.
Blessing to Nineveh. GREATER blessing to the world when Israel restored.
Romans 11:12 'Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fullness?' Romans 11:15 'For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead'. The question of Romans 3:29 is fully answered in the book of Jonah: 'Is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also of the Gentiles?'
Chapter 1.God Commissions… Jonah’s presumption! Jonah flees… His attitude, I won’t go. Why did Jonah flee…? He thought the 40 days began when he heard, not when they heard. Israel should have been the Evangelist to the World of the goodness of God, but carelessness and bigotry meant they did not carry the light of God to the Nations as they should. Jonah wanted to see Nineveh judged rather than being blessed.
Chapter 2.God Hears… Jonah’s prayer! Jonah prays… His attitude, I will go. Notice: The Lord Heard v 2… Thou hadst cast me, action of God acknowledged v 3 … vs 4, 7 has the Temple in mind… thanksgiving and vow v 9… Salvation is of the Lord v 9.
Chapter 3.God Spares… Jonah’s preaching! Jonah preaches… His attitude, I’m here. The Word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time, saying… the grace of God to him personally despite his failing’s. His preaching of coming judgment… their response of repentance. The people believed Jonah…believed God? God’s grace was then displayed.
Chapter 4.God Reproves… Jonah’s petulance! Jonah complains… His attitude, I shouldn’t have come. Jonah is found sulking and angry at the result of his preaching. He knew the character of God and was afraid of blessing on Nineveh… see Ch 4:2.
A gracious God
Slow to anger
And of great kindness
And repentest thee of the evil
Jonah makes a booth… God prepares a gourd… God prepared a worm… God prepared a vehement east wind… God poses a question… Jonah answers v 9. God poses another question vs 10-11. This time the servant is silent. Silent because he knows God is right. He didn’t sulk for ever… He wrote his book… Instruction for us in the matter of obedience, testimony and witness, and in the ways and character of God.
Jonah a sign Matthew 12:38-41/Luke 11:29-30
Note the Miracles in the Book… the storm/lots cast/the sea subsides/the great fish/the preservation of Jonah…