Jonah is one of the most memorable books in the entire Old Testament. It is easily the most memorable of all of the Minor Prophets (the last 12 books of the Old Testament in our English Bibles). If someone were to ask us about the book of Nahum (also one of the Minor Prophets and also about God’s dealings with Nineveh), chances are that few (if any) of us could even begin to recall or describe its major themes or subject matter. I know, I know – the good folks at Veggie Tales haven’t gotten around to making a movie about the book of Nahum yet. (What’s the hold-up on that, anyway?)
But Jonah? That story is forever etched into our brains. Maybe that is because Jonah, unlike many of the other Prophetic books, is not made up of strange visions of future judgment and deliverance, but is simply a story of judgment and deliverance. And what a story!
We forget some stories, don’t we? But not Jonah. Even my three-year-old son knows that Jonah is the “fish story.” Many of us have known and loved this story since our childhood. Who can forget the story of the Prophet who was swallowed alive by the “great fish” (1:17) and then vomited up on dry land three days later? Or the great revival that broke out in the wicked land of Nineveh of all places? Or how about Jonah’s strange response to God’s command in the opening verses, or his even stranger response to God’s mercy upon the Ninevites in the closing chapter of the book? The book of Jonah packs quite a punch in its four (4) short chapters!
But we probably remember it for all the wrong reasons. And we may be amazed by all the wrongs things too. The book of Jonah is not a story about a “great fish” (1:17). The great fish may steal the show, but its role in this story is a cameo at best.
Jonah is first and foremost about the great mercy of the LORD upon sinners. Not only His mercy upon the prophet Jonah himself, but upon the people of Nineveh as well. It is, in a very real sense, also about the Lord’s great mercy on sinners like us through Jesus Christ.
Jonah is about the sovereignty of God in the salvation of sinners. Sinclair Ferguson puts it well when he writes,
“Few sections of Scripture emphasize so clearly that God is sovereign in all evangelism, and he is evangelistic in the exercise of his sovereignty” (Man Overboard! The Story of Jonah, p.xii, Emphasis mine).
Salvation truly belongs to the LORD (Jonah 2:9)!
Now, has anyone seen my hairbrush?
Where is my hairbrush? Oh, where is my hairbrush? . . . .