I was happy to get to the book of Jonah because this is one of my favorite Bible "stories"....and when I call it a "story"....that in no way means that I don't think it truly happened. I know that ALL scripture is God-breathed!!!
A few facts about Jonah....
~~~Jonah's name means "a dove"
~~~It's not known if Jonah was actually the author of the Book of Jonah
~~~Jonah was a prophet who had to be swallowed by a great fish before he obeyed God's command to preach repentance to the people of Nineveh. Nothing is known of Jonah after he returned to Israel from preaching in Nineveh.
~~~The Book of Jonah emphasizes God's love for ALL people.
~~~Jonah struggled with God's call to service
The Book of Jonah begins with God's call to Jonah to preach in the great city of Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian empire. The Assyrians were political enemies of the Israelites, as we learned in our recap of Obadiah. They worshiped false gods, so they were shunned as outcasts. But God's call to Jonah showed that He hadn't given up on Assyria (just like He doesn't give up on us today).
Chapter 1 - Jonah ran from God by heading in the opposite direction toward Joppa, where he boarded a ship to Tarshish. God caused a violent storm that threatened to break the ship apart. Jonah slept thru the storm until the ship's captain woke him up. The ship's crew cast lots and determined that Jonah was the cause of the storm. He told the sailors to toss him into the sea for it to become calm again and admitted that the storm was all his fault. When the sailors threw Jonah into the sea, the storm stopped and the sailors were amazed at God's power so they offered Him a sacrifice and vowed to serve Him.
Now the Lord had arranged for a great fish to swallow Jonah and he was inside the fish for 3 days and 3 nights.
3 days and 3 nights was the equivalent of how long Jesus was in the grave.
One commentary I read said that sometimes too much emphasis is put on the "great fish"....instead of how God saved Jonah for a purpose. A lot of time, the fish is called a whale...but I also read that God could have created this creature just specifically to save Jonah.
Chapter 2 - Jonah prayed to God while inside the belly of the fish and God saved him from the digestive juices of the fish.
"I cried out to the Lord in my great trouble, and He answered me."
As my life was slipping away, I remembered the Lord. And my earnest prayer went out to you in Your Holy Temple.
The Lord ordered the fish to spit Jonah out on dry ground.
Chapter 3 - God spoke to Jonah a second time to go to Nineveh. This time Jonah obeyed. It was a city so large that it took 3 days to see it all. The people of Nineveh repented and fasted to show their sorrow. Even the king and his nobles repented.
God changed His mind once the people repented and did not carry out the destruction like He had threatened.
Chapter 4 - The fact that God changed His mind angered Jonah. Now....isn't that just how we are sometimes today....we see people do wrong and maybe they get a second chance....but we don't like it because they didn't get their "due reward"....or, weren't punished how we think they should be?
Jonah complained to God about his feelings. Jonah told the Lord that he would rather die if the destruction that he had prophesied to the people wasn't going to take place. God asked Jonah if it was right for him to be angry. So Jonah went outside the city and built himself a shelter to sit under and watch what God would do to the city. God arranged for a plant to grow there and it spread it's broad leaves over Jonah's head, shading him from the sun. Then God sent a worm and it ate thru the stem of the plant and it withered away and the sun grew hot and a strong scorching east wind blew on Jonah. The sun beat down on his head and he grew faint and wanted to die....saying that death was better than living that way. God asked Jonah if it was right for him to be angry because the plant had died and he said "yes". God told Jonah that he felt sorry about a plant....but did nothing to put it there. Nineveh had more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness....so shouldn't the Lord feel sorry for such a great city?!?!
In His Most Precious Love....and with mine!!!