Out of the twelve prophet books of the Old Testament, Jonah is the fifth. The prophet of Jonah makes his first appearance in the book of 2 Kings when he judges the Jews for their disobedience.Though the account of Jonah and the whale is a favorite narrative among children, it holds important values that are important for every Christians to know. In this book God displays His overflowing mercy to the rebellious Jonah after he directly disobeys a command. Jeremiah 23:24 perfectly describes the lesson Jonah learned the hard way, “Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord.” No one can hide from God. God heard his rebellious servants prayer in the belly of a giant fish. Instead of running away from God we should be running to Him. Deceiving ourselves only hurts us.
The story of Jonah is the perfect picture of contrast between man and God. It portray the omnipotence of God and the feebleness of man. Jonah demonstrates repentance, Jonah repented of his sin, the sailors repented of their pagan gods, and the Ninevites repented of their wicked lifestyles.
According to Geisler, some of the other purposes of this book include:
In John 7:52, although Jonah isn't directly referenced, his ministry shows the ignorance of the Pharisees. The Pharisees claim that no other prophet has come from Galilee But Jonah was from Galilee.
In 2 Kings 14:25 Jonah is referenced as a prophet under the reign of Jeroboam who lived in Gath Heper. This minor prophet came from the tribe of Zebulon and lived around 782-753 B.C. before the days of Amos and Hosea but right after Elisha. The Hebrew meaning behind the name Jonah is “dove”. This is the most common translation. But interestingly enough the Abraim Publications sheds a new light on the name. The roots are also traced back to the meaning of “vexer” or “oppressor”.
The book of Jonah is full of geographical significance. Nineveh, the city he was commanded to evangelize to, was considered the largest city's in Jonahs time. The city was built by a son of Asshur, son of Shem, as seen on Genesis 10:11. The city itself was destroyed approximately 150 years after the time of Jonah, by rising empires in 612 B.C. As the capital of the Assyrian empire, a predominating kingdom, the Jews, including Jonah, saw this city as a pagan unholy place. David Guzik describes the stigma Jews had against Gentiles with the comparison with a Jewish man during World War Two told to travel to Germany and tell the Germans to repent of their sins or face coming judgment.
Tarshish was the most remote location available to Jonah at this time. The city of Tarshish was located near Gibraltar in the southern part of Spain. During this time period this city was thought to be close to the edge of the world. Nineveh was located in modern day Iraq East to the Tigris river. Joppa, the city he boarded a ship to Tarshih, stood a vast 550 miles from Ninevah. But Tarshish was closer to 2,500 miles from Ninevah. Whatever God had called Jonah to with the Assyrians, Jonahs was avoiding it at all costs.
Jonah is notable from the other prophetic books due to the focus of the book. While the other Prophetic books focus on the words of the prophet, Jonah focuses on the prophet himself. In the other books like Isaiah, there is hardly anything known about the author, the case is flipped with Jonah. We also see in Jonah 4:1-2 that Jonah gets angry that the people of Tarshish repented. Why? Because they were a city of Assyria, who was constantly fighting Israel. Had Tarshish been destroyed, Israel could have seen this as a victory.
The book of Jonah has four chapters that can be divided into four stages. Chapter one is the stage where Jonah is running from God.
Chapter two is the stage where Jonah Runs to God.
Chapter three is the stage where Jonah begins to run with God
Chapter four, the final chapter, is the stage where Jonah runs against God.
Jonah 1:1 is center of one of the main debates about this prophetic book. The question is whether or not the events that took place in this epic narrative are historically sound. Because of its contents and unique literary design scholars believe the book is a fabricated story designed to demonstrate certain attributes of God and Christianity.
Christians who believe in the literal interpretation of the scriptures, as it should be interpreted, know the power of God surpasses human understanding. While the events of Jonah should be taken as historically correct there should always be careful observation of both sides of a topic. Defending Inerrancy gives several logical solutions to this claim of fabrication.
Another argument against Jonah is found in the third verse of chapter three, “Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, a three-day journey in extent.” Scholars have taken this verse and estimated that a man can walk approximately 50-90 miles in three days. The problem is there is no record of a city so massive in ancient times, only recently in the modern day have city's grown to that size. Is scriptures inaccurate?
There is not a clear cut response to this accusation, but there are several interpretations that clear the issue. The idea is Jonah is either referring to the circumference of the city, or the time it takes to travel to each major location. As Jonah continued through the city he would have to stop and Evangelize, it is not as if he is simply walking straight through the center.
The final argument about the book of Jonah focuses on Jonah 3:6 where Jonah refers to the king of Assyria as the king of Nineveh. If scholars are to believe that Jonah was a real man and not fabricated, why does he refer to the king as only of Nineveh. This would have been something very uncommon in this Jewish time period. It is equivalent to calling Donald trump the President of the Washington D.C. instead of the president of the United States of America.
This is a fairly nit picky argument. Just because Jonah refers to the king as king of Nineveh, which is true, doesn't mean he doesn't know what he is talking about. This is not evidence that someone wrote this story from a later time period looking back at this specif time with a limited understanding. Ahab is referred to the king of Samaria when he is truly the king of Israel (see 1 Kings 21:1)
http://defendinginerrancy.com/bible-solutions/Jonah_3.6.php https://bible.org/seriespage/5-jonah https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dLIabZc0O4c https://www.gotquestions.org/Book-of-Jonah.html https://www.studylight.org/commentary/john/7-52.html http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/gills-exposition-of-the-bible/matthew-12-40.html http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Jonah.html#.WVE4xuvyvIU http://biblescripture.net/Jonah.html http://doctrine.org/jonah-the-angry-prophet/ https://www.gotquestions.org/Jonah-Tarshish-Nineveh.html https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/guzik_david/StudyGuide_Jon/Jon_1.cfm