Now the Word of the Lord came to Jonah …
With all of its drama and extraordinary events, people have become fascinated with the story of Jonah. Whether from coloring books or children’s story Bibles, from childhood, the tale of a man swallowed by a great fish and regurgitated alive, 3 days later, has captured our imagination! Yet how many, knowing the story so well, know the true import and significance of Jonah?
For one thing the book of Jonah is biographical. Jonah was a historical figure sent on a particular mission from God to reach a specific group of people. So broadly Jonah will bring us face to face with missions and evangelism. Then, as one who ran away from his calling and mission, Jonah will provide a mirror into our own heart and its propensity to wander from God’s call. As Jonah’s journey is traced, we see the inner workings of his heart – his fears, his motivations, his moods – with which we can identify and learn from his example. Yet there is still an even greater value to studying the book of Jonah.
Jonah has significance far greater than God’s localized concern for Nineveh. The book is not about a great fish! Neither is Jonah ultimately about the man who wrote it. Also, it is more than a guide to overseas missions for Christian evangelists. And while we will learn about ourselves, Jonah is about so much more. The book of Jonah is primarily about Jonah’s God. We will learn more about God and His mercy and His dealings with His people in Jonah than we will about Jonah himself, or our own self. In Jonah the doctrine of God and the depth of His mercy come alive in the experience of this man. Jonah is a vital link in the history of redemption as it reveals to us the unfolding purposes of God and His prodigal loving mercy for a prophet and a people.