Jonah: The story behind the story - 1 August 2018

Neville Turley

“Let the wicked leave their way of life and change their way of thinking. Let them turn to the Lord, our God; he is merciful and quick to forgive.”Isaiah 55:7 (GNT)

Ask people with a Christian background about Jonah. The chances are that they will tell you he was the Old Testament prophet that was swallowed by a whale.

The story of Jonah is much more than that. Like a biblical parable, it has a much deeper meaning. Jonah was not a name given to a fictitious character, he really existed.

The Bible tells us that Jonah came from the village of Gath-hepher near Nazareth in Galilee. His father’s name was Amittai. Jonah was a renowned prophet in the time of King Jeroboam II of Israel.

Jonah had foretold that when King Jeroboam ascended the throne he would reconquer all the territory that Israel had lost to her enemies. He predicted that it was not God’s will that Israel should be destroyed. Jonah prophesied that God would rescue hard-pressed Israel and end her suffering.

All Jonah predicted came true. (2 Kings 14:25) However, God was not going to allow Jonah to rest on his laurels, basking in his fame in Israel.

God had other plans for Jonah.  He had a mission for him to accomplish. God called Jonah to go to Nineveh, the capital of the mighty Assyrian empire and warn them that if they did not repent, they would face judgement.

The Assyrians were the arch enemy of Israel.  Israelites regarded them as wicked and depraved. There is no way they wanted anything to do with people they hated and despised. If God was going to punish them, then so be it.

Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh. He failed to take into account that God’s compassion extends to all who turn to him. It is a lesson we all need to take to heart and share.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, may the Holy Spirit make us continually aware of your love for us and for others, for Jesus sake. Amen

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