The Book Of Jonah Part 2


W e considered in Part 1 the subject, JONAH: HISTORY OR MYSTERY, so let us continue our consideration of this wonderful book from an entirely different angle: JONAH AND ISRAEL: A PROPHECY.

I have already affirmed my belief in the historicity of both the person of Jonah and the performance of the events associated with him.

Now I suggest and believe that these recorded incidents relative to Jonah are not only history but prophecy. The history of Jonah is prophetical of the Jewish nation of Israel. As we consider the book of Jonah from this angle we will discover a most fascinating parallel.

A Jewish writer, in the Sermon of the Week entitled "The Covenant", wherein God is described as Shomer Ha-Brit, meaning "The Guardian or Keeper of the Covenant" says: In this world of today, bordering of chaos, we bring up our children as bnei-b''it, children of the covenant. A religion can be chosen. But with those who are the partners of the b'rit between God and Israel it is different.

"They have been chosen. They can run away and become unfaithful, but they cannot be released. God will find us everywhere, as He found Jonah in the belly of the great fish. Jonah proved that it is impossible to 'flee from the presence of the Lord'.

"But why should we try the impossible? We cannot cease to be Israel. We must be Israel, the nation which is partner in the covenant with God. All our hope derives from this, that God is 'watchful over the covenant and merciful'."

What a striking acknowledgement! What prophetic admission is made by this Jewish writer! An acknowledgement of God's faithful covenant-keeping character and an admission that it is useless to flee from the presence of such a God!


Now to our theme! First, the CAUSE. Let us rivet the eyes of our imagination upon this single, solitary being called Jonah. With our eyes upon him, let us open our ears to hear these words of Scripture: "Now the word of the Lord came UNTO JONAH." "Unto Jonah!" Imagine the populations of the peoples of the world and among them this tiny speck of single humanity named Jonah. To him came the word of the Lord!

It is not only interesting but important to ask, "Why unto Jonah?" The answer to this question is deeply significant. The reason that the word of God came unto Jonah was that Jonah was in COVENANT relation with God. A tie of attachment existed between God and His prophet Jonah! Like the rainbow arc of promise in the skies of storm, Jonah was linked to God by COVENANT. That is why the word of the Lord came UNTO JONAH.

Jonah was appropriately named. Jonah is a Hebrew word and means 'dove', and the dove is the symbol of peace and also the emblem of the Spirit of God.

In the eyes of man Jonah may have been only a speck of humanity among the teeming peoples of the earth, but when viewed with spiritual eyes Jonah was a giant. No man is really insignificant who has entered into a blood covenant with Almighty God. Thus the love of God had brought to Jonah a covenant of peace through blood.

Now let us begin to examine the amazing, and I think divinely intentional, parallel between the prophet of Israel (Jonah) and the nation of Israel (the Jews). The nation of Israel was , like Jonah, an insignificant speck among the nations of the world – numerically paltry. Yet from the spiritual aspect Israel towers like a giant among the nations. Why? Because of COVENANT RELATIONSHIP TO GOD.

Hear these Scriptures: " Happy art thou, O Israel, who is like unto thee? A people saved by the Lord . . . " (Deuteronomy 33:29). " The Lord did not set His love upon you, nor choose you, because you were more in number than any people – for you were the fewest of all peoples – but because the Lord loved you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore unto your fathers . . . " (Deuteronomy 7:7,8).

So we can see that its not love and numbers, but love and covenant. The love and the covenant of God were the reason that the word of the Lord came to JONAH. And the love of God and the covenant of God were the reasons that the word of the Lord came unto ISRAEL.


Now the commission. To be in covenant relationship with God not only means repose but it also demands responsibility. Hence Jonah, resting in the repose of his covenant with God, is suddenly commissioned to exercise his responsibility. Here was the Assyrian capital of Nineveh, proud ,boastful, and unutterably cruel, and the iniquity of the people stinking in the nostrils of a holy God.

The cup of their wickedness was about to overflow, so full it was. Suddenly, three crisp imperatives issue like staccato from the mouth of God unto Jonah His prophet: ARISE, GO, CRY. " ARISE,GO to Nineveh, that great city, and CRY against it! " The one in covenant relationship is divinely commissioned to go to those who are outside that relationship and cry against them because of their iniquity.

If we fail to apprehend the motive for the divine imperatives to Jonah we will impoverish our own souls; we will deny ourselves the privilege of a great revelation of the character of God.

Why did God commission Jonah to go to Nineveh? Hastily we may declare that the wickedness of Nineveh was the reason. Maybe it was, but I do not think that that is the end; I do not regard that as a revelation.

"Ah!" you say. "Of course! The reason for the commission was the ANGER OF GOD." No! my friends, emphatically and positively no! Not the anger of God, but the pity and the love God impelled Him to commission His servant to go to Nineveh and cry against her! What a precious revelation is this! God's great love and pity prompted the imperatives!

The wickedness of Nineveh had caused the righteous sword of God's judgement to hang suspended by a silken thread over that great city! How terrible are the words of this Scripture spoken by God: " If I whet My glittering sword, and my hand take hold on Judgement . . ." (Deuteronomy 32:41).

But God didn't want that sword of divine judgement to fall on Nineveh. He is " not willing that any should perish, " says one precious Scripture, and another says that judgement is God's 'strange act', strange to His divine nature of righteousness and holiness.

Arise! Go! Cry! Joshua received two of these imperatives to destroy the people of Canaan. God said to Joshua, " Arise! Go! " Bu it was not until the iniquity of the Canaanites was full that God commissioned Joshua to perform a necessary surgical operation upon mankind. Joshua was commissioned to cut out, to cut away, the cancerous growth of the Canaanites, lest the disease spread to all mankind. It was an act of judgement, but it was an act of love and pity for the rest of humanity.

So with Nineveh. It had become cancerous with sin, but God was reluctant to operate without warning! What of the nation of Israel? We find similar evidences of this divine love and pity in God's commission to the nation of Israel. " The Lord will establish thee for a holy people unto Himself . . . And all the peoples of the earth shall see the name of the Lord is called upon thee . . ." (Deuteronomy 28:9,10).

Also in Exodus 19:6: " . . . and ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation. "

Obviously light banishes darkness. God commissioned the nation of Israel to give the light of knowledge of Him to the Gentile nations of the world, a sacred trust to dispel Gentile darkness and the things of darkness, the foul and hateful birds of darkness which perch with baleful eyes in the dark and secret places of man's heart, breeding the ultimate corruption of death!

God wanted men to have the glorious, purifying, revealing, precious light; but men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. God's love and pity was the motive that impelled Him to commission His covenant people Israel to be unto Him " a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. "