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What Does the Book of Jonah Teach Us About God?

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The book of Jonah is an ancient text from the Hebrew Bible with a timeless message about the nature of God.

It tells the story of a prophet named Jonah who was instructed by God to go to the city of Nineveh and preach to the people about their wickedness.

Although Jonah was initially reluctant to do this, he eventually obeyed and was met with repentance and forgiveness from the people.

Through this story, the book of Jonah teaches us several important lessons about God’s character and the power of his mercy.

By looking deeper into the main themes of the book, we will better understand why the book of Jonah is so important!

What is the Book of Jonah?

The Book of Jonah is one of the Old Testament books, classified by Judaism and Christianity as follows:

  • Judaism: Later Prophets
  • Christianity: Prophetic book

The content of the book is centered on the exchange between the prophet Jonah and God.

One of the most famous stories is that of Jonah being swallowed by a large fish.

The author is not known.

One of the distinctive points in the Old Testament is the

denial of the Israelites' sense of election and privilege.

This was surprising to the Jews of the time.

Another book with similar characteristics is "Lutz," which features a Gentile as the main character.

To learn more about the Book of Lutz,

Please read this article.

Contents of the Book of Jonah

The composition of the book is divided into two main parts.

  1. First half (chapters 1-2): Jonah's own story of repentance
  2. Second half (chapters 3-4): The story of the repentance of the people of Nineveh through Jonah's ministry and a later story

Jonah, the protagonist of the book of Jonah, prophesies as a prophet that the land of Israel will be restored.

Shortly thereafter, Israel actually restores the lost land.

When was it written?

The exact date when the Book of Jonah was written is unknown.

The traditional view is that

it was written in the first half of the 8th century B.C.

It is certain that it was written before the fall of Nineveh in 612 B.C. (the fall of Assyria) at the latest.

To learn more about the history of Assyria up to its destruction,

Please read this article.

Synopsis of the Book of Jonah

Jonah went one day to Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, the enemy of Israel.

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(Because of the evil committed by the people of Nineveh) will be destroyed in 40 days.

Suddenly God commanded him to deliver such the prophecy.

However, Jonah did not want to go to Assyria, the enemy country, so he got on a ship and fled in the opposite direction.

Because of this, God caused the ship to encounter a storm.

The sailors drew lots to see whose fault the storm was, and the lot was won by Jonah.

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Actually, I fear the Lord, the god of creation...

Jonah confessed to the sailors who questioned him.

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If I throw myself into the sea, the storm will surely subside.

Jonah suggested it to the sailors.

At first the sailors tried to reach land, but in the end Jonah was right and they threw him overboard.

Jonah was swallowed by a large fish that God had prepared for him, and after three days and three nights in the fish's belly, he was spit out onto the shore at God's command.

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I will go to Nineveh and proclaim the word of God (the Lord).

Jonah repented and did it, and surprisingly, the people immediately repented.

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Oh, they even repented and fasted!

God was so impressed by the actions of the people of Nineveh that he reconsidered and eventually stopped the destructive activities.

However, God's generous treatment of the Nineveh people angered Jonah.

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What will happen to Nineveh in the future?

Jonah built a small house and lived in it, and a gourd grew next to it.

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The shade of the gourd is good as a shade from the sun♪

But God sent an insect to kill the gourd.

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I am dying of my anger...!

Jonah was so furious that he complained to God,

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Since you spared a single gourd, how can you not spare Nineveh, which is home to more than 120,000 people and countless livestock?

That's what God said to Jonah.

After the Book of Jonah

The book of Jonah shows that God's mercy extends not only to the people of Israel (Jews) but also to the people of other nations (Gentiles).

Conversely, it could be said that the Gentiles are more in accordance with God's will and the Jews, represented by Jonah, are less able to understand God's will.

This idea was taken over by the later Christian Paul the Apostle.

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God's will is not acceptable to the Jews, but rather to the Gentiles.

Christianity spread with the recognition that.

Jesus said to those who asked him for a sign,

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No sign is given except the sign of Jonah.

Traditionally, the followings are considered as corresponding to each other.

  • Three days and three nights Jonah was in the belly of the fish
  • Three days from Jesus' death to his resurrection

Therefore, we understand Jesus to be speaking of Jonah's experience as a foreshadowing of his own death and resurrection.

Incidentally, the same story is found in the Islamic Qur'an, where Jonah is named Yunus, one of the prophets.