This past Sunday was week 5 in my class on the Gospel according to the Minor Prophets. We worked our way through Jonah, one of the most memorable Minor Prophets. The book itself does not indicate when Jonah ministered, but if he is the same prophet referred to in 2 Kings 14:25 he would have been active during the middle of the 8th century. But unlike the other prophetic books, Jonah is almost exclusively historical narrative that focuses on the actions of the prophet and God’s call to preach to Nineveh.
Nineveh was one of the key cities in the Assyrian Empire. The people of Israel felt towards Assyria the way that most Americans feel towards Al-Qaeda. The Assyrians were brutal towards their enemies, and had been a pain in Israel’s side for many years. Yet God called Jonah to go preach to Nineveh, a “great city.”
There are several key biblical-theological themes in Jonah: God’s compassion for the nations, the universal scope of his plan for the world, and the sovereignty of God.
How can we as God’s people today benefit from Jonah? What is it that God has to say to us today through this Minor Prophet?
I believe the starting point is determining the theological big idea, which I would summarize as follows: God’s extravagant compassion towards us should prompt us to be conduits of compassion to others.
By nature we are ethno-centric. We think that we are the center of God’s plan. But the scope of God’s plan for the world is to create worshipers from every tribe, tongue, and nation. And in order to accomplish this God sent someone better than Jonah. Someone who, rather than fleeing when God called him, took on flesh and lived a life of perfect obedience to God. Someone who instead of spending three days and three nights in belly of the fish for his own rebellion spend three days and night in the grave for our rebellion. Someone who instead of complaining that God shows mercy to the wicked gave his life so that God could show mercy to the wicked.
Want to hear more? You can check out the audio and the handout below:
Week 5 – Jonah (AUDIO)