Summary: What do you really make of the book of Jonah?
Some weeks ago I was making a fresh study of the book of Jonah as it was the basis of the Bible Reading notes which our dear folk use. If you are a Pastor or Bible teacher I do hope you provide Bible reading notes, or Study Notes, for their daily use. We all need all the help that is available.
The book of Jonah is part of God’s Holy Word, and it is part of God’s truth to us, and it has the same authority as any other book in the Bible.
The book of Jonah has suffered from many jokes over the years, so it has not been taken seriously, or studied in depth, in many places.
This book has been attacked, as Genesis has, and people have ridiculed it, whilst many have treated it flippantly and superficially.
Some have said – “It is only fiction. We cannot regard it as fact, or as truth.”
I came across a definition of ‘truth’ many years ago when studying the letters of Timothy and Titus, and it has served me well at various times.
“Truth is the actual state of affairs as contrasted with rumour, myth, or legend.”
Some have said it is like the Parable of ‘The Good Samaritan’ - not factual, but a fictional story – an earthly story, with a spiritual meaning and heavenly significance. Remember the word ‘good’ is not in the Parable of the Samaritan!
Jonah is true. It is historically true. It happened. The book is regarded as one of the Minor Prophets – minor in size perhaps, but not in content.
It is presented as historically true – similar to the books of Kings and Chronicles.
It speaks of real places and real people and real events. We hear the same tone of voice, and it uses the same type of language, as elsewhere in scripture. There is not a single hint that it is different.
Jonah is mentioned in II Kings Chapter 14 verse 25, with the same father, and Jonah is presented as an ordinary person.
We are in the 8th Century BC.
The Jews have always accepted Jonah as being historical.
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, believed and taught that Jonah was a real person.
Turn to Matthew Chapter 12 and verses 38 to 41. That is what Jesus Christ, in His faultless humanity, said of Jonah. As Jonah was 3 days and 3 nights in the belly of the great fish, so I will be 3 days and 3 nights in the heart of the earth. Both are regarded as historical events.
Those who refuse Jesus Christ now will one day meet the men of Nineveh who may point at them and say – “We repented. Why did you not repent?”
The men of Nineveh will be there on the Day of Judgment.
If you treat the book as fiction then the main figure in the book is Jonah. Is this why people find it hard?
If you treat the book as fact – as God’s Word – as the actual state of affairs – then the main figure is Almighty God.
This book is a book about God and what God does.