The book of Jonah is a very interesting book in the Word of God. It is found in the Prophetical books, in a section that is referred to as the ‘minor prophets’. Many lessons can be learned from Jonah, who has been often called the disobedient prophet. However, what is our reaction to God calling us for a specific task? Do we not at times act like Jonah and not feel like doing what God tells us? Jonah is full of lessons for us and even Christ acknowledged the prophet Jonah when He was on earth (Matt 12:28-42).
So what is the message of Jonah about? It is a message of judgement. It was a message that God gave to Jonah to go to Nineveh (which is in Iraq today), the enemies of Israel, and preach that Nineveh will be destroyed because of their sins. Jonah was not interested at all in even going to that town, and looked down on the others. Do we not do the same today? It is sad to see that Christians look down on others as if they were unworthy, yet, I need to know that I myself was totally unworthy and undeserving of God’s grace and mercy, yet God loved us. He so loved us that He gave His only begotten Son (John 3:16). So we should look at others and keep in mind that God loves them, He loves each soul.
Jonah learned lessons throughout the book, and when he finally went to Nineveh, he even just went ‘through the motions’ and pronounced only a few words (Jonah 3:4). He thought that the city would not repent and was glad in himself that the enemies of God’s people were going to be destroyed. But God. This is a very marvellous two words – but God. The city repented and cried out, and God in His grace did not destroy them at that time. Jonah was then angry. Is this the attitude of a prophet of God? Surely it can’t be! Jonah was thinking of himself and his credibility in prophesying, but it is God who gives the word, and God who makes the decision, not man.
Well, we know how the story of Jonah went, but what my attempt here is to show comparisons with our blessed Lord, Jesus Christ. In each chapter, we see features and differences between Jonah and Christ, and in each chapter, we can see features of each of the four gospels. Is it a coincidence that Jonah has four chapters and that there are four gospels?
⁃Jonah 1:1-3; Matt 12:39-41
⁃Jonah 1 and 2 compares with the moral glory of Christ, while chapters 3 and 4 compares with the official glories of Christ.
⁃Chapter 1 compares with John’s Gospel. 42 times the Father sent the Son. Jonah was disobedient but Christ was obedient.
⁃Chapter 2 compares with Luke’s Gospel. Jonah prayed in this chapter, and in Luke we see Christ as the dependant Man of prayer.
⁃Chapter 3 compares with Mark’s Gospel. The term ‘immediately’ is mentioned 42 times there. However, Jonah finally went to Nineveh.
⁃Chapter 4 compares with Matthew’s Gospel. Christ the King had compassion on the people and God is interested in multitudes and individuals. Jonah did not have compassion or show any interest.
Jonah 1 – we see that Jonah was disobedient but Christ was obedient.
Jonah 2 – we see Jonah prayed just the one time, but Christ is the Man of prayer.
Jonah 3 – we see Jonah goes to do the job, but Christ willingly and immediately serves.
Jonah 4 – we see that Jonah had no compassion on the people, but Christ did.
May God encourage a study of this interesting book, and to listen to what He has to tell us and not disobey. After all, the things written in Jonah are for us to learn, both the positive and negative aspects.