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Getting to Know the Bible: Jonah Overview

Peace & Blessings Beloved,

TGBTG for allowing us to see another day. I pray all is well with you and yours, and that your week has been fruitful & blessed thus far.

Today we are going to visit our Getting to Know the Bible Series. In this series, our goal is to come to a comprehensive understanding of each book of the bible. At this point of the series we're going to focus on Jonah. But before we get to Jonah 1, I want to ensure we have a baseline understanding of the book of Jonah. This way we can have a full appreciation for the exquisiteness of the entire book, as well as each individual chapter.

And so, in that spirit, see below for a comprehensive overview of the book of Jonah, as we prepare to behold and discern Jonah, beginning with Jonah 1 in our next installment of this series.

Book Type: The fifth book of the Minor Prophets; the thirty-second book of the Old Testament

Authors: Jonah

Date of Writing: ~793 and 758 B.C.

Audience: The northern kingdom of Israel.

Theme: Disobedience; Repentance, Judgment; Redemption

Original Language: Hebrew

Genre: Allegory; Dialogue; Narrative

Purpose of Writing: Disobedience and revival are the key themes.

Summary: Jonah's fear and pride cause him to run from God. He does not wish to go to Nineveh to preach repentance to the people, as God has commanded, because he feels they are his enemies, and he is convinced that God will not carry out his threat to destroy the city. Instead he boards a ship for Tarshish, which is in the opposite direction. Soon a raging storm causes the crew to cast lots and determine that Jonah is the problem. They throw him overboard, and he is swallowed by a great fish. In its belly for 3 days and 3 nights, Jonah repents of his sin to God, and the fish vomits him up on dry land (we wonder what took him so long to repent). Jonah then makes the 500-mile trip to Nineveh and leads the city in a great revival. But the prophet is displeased instead of being thankful when Nineveh repents. Jonah learns his lesson, however, when God uses a wind, a gourd, and a worm to teach him that He is merciful.


Jonah consists of four chapters.

The first chapter addresses Jonah's call to preach in Nineveh, his attempt to run away from God, and the consequences that followed. Jonah illustrates the futility of running from God: the chapter ends with Jonah being thrown into the sea and swallowed by a great fish.

Chapter 2 provides the prayer of Jonah. He calls out to God in his distress (Jonah 2:2) while in the belly of the fish. God answers his prayer, speaks to the fish, and the fish vomits Jonah onto dry land (Jonah 2:10).

Chapter 3 gives the account of Jonah faithfully obeying the Lord to preach in Nineveh. After this second call (Jonah 3:1–2), Jonah obeys and proclaims destruction would come in forty days. The people of Nineveh believe God, fast, and mourn in response (Jonah 3:5). The king even issues a decree for no person or animal to eat, but to pray to the Lord for mercy (Jonah 3:6–9). When they do, the Lord shows them mercy (Jonah 3:10).

Chapter 4 offers the response of Jonah. Rather than rejoicing, he wants to die (Jonah 4:3). Jonah then rests outside the city under a plant the Lord had provided. The next day, the plant is gone and Jonah is so angry he again wants to die (Jonah 4:8). The Lord reminds Jonah that the people of Nineveh are much more important than the plant that had died. The Lord chose to have compassion on them and cared for them much more than Jonah cared about a plant that produced shade. God's love is clearly shown for all people who respond to Him.

Foreshadowing: That Jonah is a type of Christ is clear from Jesus’ own words. In Matthew 12:40-41, Jesus declares that He will be in the grave the same amount of time Jonah was in the whale’s belly. He goes on to say that while the Ninevites repented in the face of Jonah’s preaching, the Pharisees and teachers of the Law who rejected Jesus were rejecting One who is far greater than Jonah. Just as Jonah brought the truth of God regarding repentance and salvation to the Ninevites, so too does Jesus bring the same message (Jonah 2:9; John 14:6) of salvation of and through God alone (Romans 11:36).

Application: We cannot hide from God. What He wishes to accomplish through us will come to pass. The Gospel is for all people in all times.

Key Verses (ESV):

Jonah 1:3, "But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish..."

Jonah 1:17, "But the LORD provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights."

Jonah 2:2, "In my distress I called to the LORD, and He answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry."

Jonah 3:10, "When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, He had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened."

*Note: Jonah was written both to the Gentile people of Nineveh as well as for the education of the Jewish people. God sent Jonah to preach to the wicked people of Nineveh regarding His upcoming judgment. However, Jonah instead ran from God and experienced his own judgment through being swallowed by a great fish. Jonah prayed and was rescued. He then obeyed the Lord and preached to the people of Nineveh. The people repented and God saved the city from His judgment. Jonah was angry at the Lord's mercy, yet the Lord reminded him of the importance of the many people in the city who repented.

I pray you receive this with the love intended, and apply it to wisdom.

May the joy of the Lord continue to be your strength.

Love you much.

Stay Safe, Stay Healthy, Stay Blessed!

-Humble Servant

P.S- If you have not given your life to Jesus Christ, I implore you to take the time to do so right now. Use John 3:16 & Romans 10:9-10 as a foundation for making your confession of faith. And use Ephesians 2:1-10 to provide proper context for your salvation.


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