Jonah is less of a symbolic book and more of a book of types and historical events. We can gain some insights from it, but it will not be many with regard to our goal of Revelation. My notes here will be brief.

Jonah 1

1Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. 3But 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. 4But the LORD sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken. 5Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep. 6So the shipmaster came to him, and said unto him, What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not.

I cannot help but see the antiparallelism between this account and the account recorded in Matt. 8:23-27; Mark 4:35-41; Luke 8 22:25. It is not just being in the belly of the sea monster that is the type-antitype for Jonah and Jesus.

7And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah. 8Then said they unto him, Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this evil is upon us; What is thine occupation? and whence comest thou? what is thy country? and of what people art thou? 9And he said unto them, I am an Hebrew; and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land.

Here Jonah declares Jehovah as Creator God. The men with him then acknowledge Jehovah and cry out to Him to save them. Even caught in an act of sin, Jonah realized his error and began to acknowledge his sin and his duty to preach Jehovah as God. Our first step as a sinner is to acknowledge the sin in our life and turn to Jehovah for guidance of what to do next.

10Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him. Why hast thou done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them. 11Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous. 12And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you. 13Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not: for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous against them. 14Wherefore they cried unto the LORD, and said, We beseech thee, O LORD, we beseech thee, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not upon us innocent blood: for thou, O LORD, hast done as it pleased thee. 15So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging. 16Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the LORD, and made vows.

Jonah’s identification of Jehovah led these men to be worshippers of Jehovah, a God who was capable of actually directly affecting the universe about them (unlike other gods who are all fake).

17Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Alright, let’s deal with this immediately. Great fish or whale? I’ve heard it corrected so many times in my life time that it has become absurd. “It’s not a whale, it’s a great fish.” Well, both are technically wrong. In Matt. 12:40 the word there is translated as whale while here in Jonah it is translated as great fish. Both can be translated as sea monster or sea dragon/serpent such as Leviathan was. I would suggest that this translation is the best because it adds more depth to the type when looking forward to Christ and back to the prophecy of the serpent in Genesis 3.

Jonah 2

1Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish's belly, 2And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell[Sheol - EL] cried I, and thou heardest my voice.

The imagery here of Christ is unmistakable with the hindsight of Christ’s own comparison of Himself to Jonah.

3For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me. 4Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple. 5The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head. 6I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my God. 7When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple. 8They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy. 9But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD. 10And the LORD spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.

I am reminded of the scene toward the end of “Cloverfield” where the cameraman is actually grabbed in the monster’s mouth and chewed. It was one of the most disturbing and intense bits of filming I have ever seen (and I loved it, btw). I get a very similar image of Jonah in the sea dragon’s belly. Tangled in sea weed, feeling like he is drowning for three days, and down deep in the ocean where all is black and the pressure is like the pressure of all the earth above your head. It is a nightmare situation and in it, Jonah does the only thing he knows to do, he prays to God.

Thanksfully, God hears and speaks to the sea dragon which then vomits Jonah out on dry land.

Jonah 3

1And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying, 2Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee. 3So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days' journey. 4And Jonah began to enter into the city a day's journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown. 5So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. 6For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. 7And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: 8But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. 9Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not? 10And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.

This short chapter is almost anticlimactic considering what it took to get Jonah here. It is important to note this book for Judah/Jerusalem because in it we see a picture of a city that God had determined to punish for its wickedness, but that sincerely repents. The city is then spared. What could Jerusalem have taken from this book if it had but understood. It’s not like God did not give them plenty of warning and opportunity.

Jonah 4

1But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry. 2And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.

Apparently Jonah is very familiar with the kindness of God and knew exactly what would happen. Too bad the Jews did not get it.

3Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live. 4Then said the LORD, Doest thou well to be angry? 5So Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the city. 6And the LORD God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd. 7But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered. 8And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live. 9And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death. 10Then said the LORD, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night: 11And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?

God teaches Jonah, who is angry at God’s mercy, a lesson not to be angry when God offers salvation and mercy to many who repent. Our lesson for today is that repentance, a work that we must do, does affect God’s plans for us such that He will not destroy us if we turn to Him. His judgment is always conditioned on our choices.

In Truth and Love,