Why would we study the book of Jonah? Well first off Jonah in the Hebrew tongue means dove and the dove is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. (Luke 3:22). Secondly let’s turn to Matthew.
Matthew 12:38 Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee.
Mat 12:39 But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:
Mat 12:40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
Mat 12:41 The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.
Now most people say well that is a symbol of Christ dying and raising up again and stop. Well there is a lot more here than you may think. So with that said lets turn to the book of Jonah.
Jonah 1:1 Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,
Now we don’t have a time frame attached here. We do know from 2Kings 14:25 that Jonah lived during the rein of Jeroboam II.
Jonah 1:2 Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.
Jonah 1:3 But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.
Here is where Jonah gets a bad rap. Did he disobey God? Yes, but remember Christ said that this man is the only sign that generation was going to get so let’s look closer. The word Tarshish means established. Now lets look at what that sign may mean. Jonah is a prophet of Israel and Israelite prophets didn’t go to gentile nations at this time. Gentiles were not even allowed into the temple. If they wanted to hear the word of God then they needed to sit in the outer gate. Christ was no different. Matthew 15:24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Until Christ died the way wasn’t open to the gentiles. Starting to see a correlation here?
I want to look at one more thing before we close this post. Nineveh is the capital of Assyria and it lay north of Israel. The prophet Amos was alive and teaching at the same time that Jonah was and he prophesied that Assyria was going to take Israel into captivity. So was Jonah disobeying God? Yes, but he knew what God would do if he disobeyed and yet he was willing to sacrifice himself to save his people because if God didn’t stay his hand and the Assyrians fell then they wouldn’t take Israel.