The Book of Jonah is not a story about a whale. It is not a narrative about running from God. To be sure, Jonah ran and God prepared a great fish as an instrument of discipline for Jonah, but the focus of the book is God’s redemptive love for sinners. G. Campbell Morgan, pastor of Westminster Chapel in London said,
“Men have been looking so long at the great fish they have failed to see the great God.”
This great, compassionate God loves and seek sinners. What a blessed thought! Romans 5:8 says “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Christ died for US – sinners upon whom he set his electing love and “redeemed us out of every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9). This is a major theme in the book of Jonah. God teaches Jonah (and us) that repentance and faith isn’t only for the Jews, but for the Gentiles.
The book of Jonah begins with these words: “Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah” (Jonah 1:1). These words should not be taken for granted. When the Lord called Samuel, the word of the Lord is described as “precious,” or rare (1 Samuel 3:1). The prophet Amos predicted a famine, not of bread and water, but a famine of hearing the word of God. Amos prophesied, “They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the Lord, but they shall not find it” (Amos 8:12). Jonah was blessed that the word of God came to him. We are blessed that they word of God has come to us. God has revealed himself to man in the pages of his inspired, inerrant, infallible Word.
The word came to Jonah that he was to preach a message of repentance – not to his beloved countrymen – to a nation so heinously wicked that committed such reprehensible atrocities, that surely, Jonah thought, would condemn them forever with no hope of God being merciful to them.
God has given us his word and calls us to lovingly and compassionately preach the gospel to wicked sinners.