The Book Of Jonah Part 3

JONAH AND ISRAEL: A PROPHECY The Canker The Calamity The Conclusion THE CANKER

Now let us look at the canker. The first chapter of Jonah contains two simply staggering words – in verse 3: " But Jonah . . . " Jonah refused the commission!

What can account for this daring decision – this amazing and presumptive repudiation? At first one might be tempted to account for Jonah's disobedience by suggesting that Jonah didn't know God. But that won't do. Jonah did know God, and it was because he knew God that he fled from His presence.

We read: " And he (Jonah) prayed unto the Lord, and said: 'I pray thee, O Lord, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my own country? Therefore I fled beforehand unto Tarshish; for I knew that Thou art a gracious God, and compassionate, long-suffering, and abundant in mercy, and repentest Thee of the evil, " (4:2). Jonah knew God. He knew – and perhaps loved – God.

Then what was the motive for Jonah's strange act? I believe it was because Jonah hated Nineveh. He was not only a prophet, but a patriot. He loved his people Israel, and he knew the menace of the Assyrian power to the safety and well-being of his own nation. Jonah knew the bestial and barbarous character of the Assyrian nation. Indeed, history did witness the cruel talons of the Assyrian vulture tearing the flesh of Israel.

So Jonah wanted the sword of judgement to fall. Jonah hated Nineveh! The cancer of Nineveh was sin, but the canker of Jonah was HATE!

Do we find any parallel in the history of Israel with this attitude of Jonah? I suggest, unfortunately we do. Israel's great error was in having come to think that the revelation of the one true God was for them only; that God cared little for others; that the only attitude of God to those outside the covenant was judgement.

The Gentile nations surrounding Israel were defiant and rebellious towards Israel's God right through their history so Israel became insular in retaining the knowledge of God for themselves.


Now the calamity – the inevitable calamity! Surely Jonah's history was Israel's prophecy. Jonah renounced his divine office and we know from history that his renunciation was only temporary – he came back later.

Jonah went out of God's direct will when he went to Tarshish. To go out of God's will is to go into trouble. So with the nation of Israel. In 70 of the Common Era Titus destroyed Jerusalem and the great scattering of Israel began.

Fortunately, Scripture is emphatic in declaring that Israel nationally, like Jonah individually, will once again return to God and obey His will regarding Messiah. Israel's exile, too, is only temporary.

Jonah out of God's will became a trouble to the Gentiles. My, how that tempest rocked that boat! The Hebrew context indicates that the mariners recognized an unusual characteristic in this tempest, that it had been 'hurled' at them by God.

And all the time Jonah was in the boat the sword was still over Nineveh because of its unrepentance. Similarly with Israel. For 2000 years Israel has been an enigma to the Gentiles. But more – the whole world is suffering because still unrepentant. Sowing the wind and reaping the whirlwind! Oh, Jonah. Oh, Israel.

The Gentile mariners cast Jonah out – a parallel with the treatment Gentile nations have meted out to the Jewish people – expelling them from almost every land under heaven.

But here's a wonderful thing. Although out of God's will in the boat, Jonah was nevertheless a reluctant witness to God, just as has been the nation of Israel even out of the Land.


What then is the conclusion of Israel's peregrination through time and history? Jonah, although cast out, was miraculously preserved by God. A great fish was prepared by God to swallow him, and though swallowed, he was preserved.

This is exactly the case with Israel. Though swallowed up in the belly of the nations, they have been preserved. Israel is indestructible, for God says, " For I will make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, but I will not make a full end of thee . . . " (Jeremiah 30:11).

Jonah's affliction increased until in the inside of the great sea monster he cried for deliverance out of " the belly of sheol ". " I called out in mine affliction unto the Lord, and he answered me; out of sheol cried I and Thou heardest my voice ." (Jonah 2:3; Eng. Tr. 2:2).

Israel 's affliction too has increased and the worst is yet to come. Hosea the inspired prophet says: " I will go and return to My place, till they acknowledge their guilt, and seek My face; in their trouble they will seek Me earnestly. " (5:15).

Jonah was branded with the marks of the whale's gastric juices. He was a man risen from the dead, stamped with the evidence of death, burial and resurrection. And Israel will be saved from the gastric juices of universal anti-Semitism. " Thus saith the Lord God; Behold O my people. I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. " (Ezekiel 37:12).

The next movement in the mighty prophetic history of Jonah is his RECOMMISSION. " And the word of the Lord came unto Jonah THE SECOND TIME . . . " ARISE! GO! PREACH! And Jonah arose and obeyed with circumcised heart.

So Israel nationally will be RECOMMISSIONED. " And the Lord thy God will circumcise thy heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart . . . " (Deuteronomy 30:6). " Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. " (Isaiah 60:1).

If we can hear the sigh and sob of this sin-sick world, and if we long for the day of universal peace and righteousness, we may hear this final parallel – Jonah, restored, forgiven, recommissioned, went on his mission, and a great miracle, far greater than that of the whale, took place.

All Nineneh repented, from the throne to the field; and all were spared judgement and received mercy and peace.

What will be the result of repentant, restored, regenerated Israel's mission to the Gentile nations of the world? Here are a few chords in the divine symphony of universal peace.

" Behold, at that time I will deal with all them that afflict thee; and I will save her that is lame, and gather her that was driven away; AND I WILL MAKE THEM TO BE A PRAISE AND A NAME, whose shame has been in all the earth. At that time I will bring you in, and at that time I will gather you; for I will MAKE YOU TO BE A NAME AND A PRAISE AMONG ALL THE PEOPLES OF THE EARTH, when I turn your captivity before your eyes, saith the Lord. " (Zephaniah 3:19-20).

" Thus saith the Lord of hosts: In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold, out of all the languages of the nations, shall even take hold of the garment of him that is a Jew, saying: We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you. " (Zechariah 8:23).

" And nation shall walk at thy light, and king at the brightness of thy rising. " (Isaiah 60:3).

The people of Nineveh repented at the preaching of Jonah, God's messenger, and so will the people of the world be brought to God through repentant, restored and regenerated Israel.

Life from the dead for Jonah – it will be life from the dead for Israel – it will be life from the dead for the Gentiles of the world.