The Prophecies of Jonah

Jonah 1‑4  •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 9
Jonah’s History—A Picture of the Nation of Israel
The book of Jonah is different from all of the other Minor Prophets in that it has no direct prophecies in it, but rather, it records Jonah’s experiences. These experiences are prophetic of the nation of Israel. They illustrate, by way of type, how God will convert a remnant of His people and use them in the conversion of the Gentiles.
Jonah in Rebellion—A Type of Israel
Chapter 1
Israel, like Jonah, has been called to bear witness to the world of the one true God (vss. 1-2). As with Jonah, the nation of Israel has been an unfaithful witness and has rendered a poor testimony to the world (Rom. 2:2424For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written. (Romans 2:24)). As Jonah was disobedient and left the presence of the Lord by going on-board a ship to the Gentile city of “Tarshish,” the nation has immersed itself in worldly interactions which God had called them to be separate from (vss. 3-7). Like Jonah, in the nation’s departure from the Lord, they confess their nationality, but they do not obey the One they profess to be their God! (vss. 8-10) Also, as Jonah was thrown overboard, so Israel has been cast into the sea of nations and dispersed among the Gentiles (vss. 11-15; Matt. 21:2121Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. (Matthew 21:21); Rev. 17:1515And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues. (Revelation 17:15)). While Jonah was in the sea, the Gentile seamen turned to the Lord and cried out to Him (vs. 16). Likewise, the Gentiles have been turning to the Lord through the gospel, and thus, “through their (Israel’s) fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles” (Rom. 11:1111I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. (Romans 11:11)). The belly of the fish represents the spiritual grave in which the Jews are during their dispersion (vs. 17). They are nationally dead. But as the fish did not digest Jonah, so too have the nations not absorbed the Jews; they remain unassimilated among the nations and are a distinct people.
Jonah in the Whale’s Belly—A Type of the Struggle of the Jews in Their Dispersion
Chapter 2
Jonah’s struggle in the belly of the fish is symbolic of the struggle of the Jews down through the years of their dispersion, and particularly, during the coming Great Tribulation. His prayer for deliverance foreshadows that of the Jewish remnant. They will call upon the name of the Lord and on the third day they will be restored. “Three days and three nights” points to resurrection, and thus, there will be a national resurrection of Israel after they turn to the Lord (Isa. 26:1919Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead. (Isaiah 26:19); Dan. 12:22And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:2); Hos. 6:2-32After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. 3Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth. (Hosea 6:2‑3)).
Jonah Preaching—a Type of Restored Israel Witnessing to the World
Chapter 3
Like Jonah, Israel, when restored to the Lord, will be a powerful witness for the Lord to the Gentile nations (Isa. 60:1-31Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. 2For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. 3And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. (Isaiah 60:1‑3), etc.). As Jonah preached to the Ninevites, so the remnant of Jews will preach the Gospel of the Kingdom to the world (Psa. 96), and many Gentiles will be converted and join themselves to the Lord (Psa. 47:99The princes of the people are gathered together, even the people of the God of Abraham: for the shields of the earth belong unto God: he is greatly exalted. (Psalm 47:9); Isa. 14:1; 55:5; 56:3-71For the Lord will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land: and the strangers shall be joined with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob. (Isaiah 14:1)
5Behold, thou shalt call a nation that thou knowest not, and nations that knew not thee shall run unto thee because of the Lord thy God, and for the Holy One of Israel; for he hath glorified thee. (Isaiah 55:5)
3Neither let the son of the stranger, that hath joined himself to the Lord, speak, saying, The Lord hath utterly separated me from his people: neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree. 4For thus saith the Lord unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant; 5Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off. 6Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the Lord, to serve him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant; 7Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people. (Isaiah 56:3‑7)
; Zech. 2:1111And many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day, and shall be my people: and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto thee. (Zechariah 2:11); Rev. 7: 9).
Jonah Receives an Attitude Adjustment—a Type of Israel Judging Their Prejudice Against Gentiles
Chapter 4
Jonah needed to have his attitude changed toward the Gentiles. He had a deep-seated prejudice against them, and if he had had his way, he would have denied God the right of showing mercy to them. The Lord reasoned with Jonah about his lack of grace, and in the end, Jonah was silenced and could not reply, because in Christ’s kingdom both Israel and the Gentiles will be blessed on the principle of grace—and on nothing else. Jonah must learn that God is sovereign, and that He will have mercy on them whom He chooses to have mercy (Rom. 9:1818Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. (Romans 9:18)).
In this chapter, the Lord’s dealings with Jonah picture the deep moral work He will do in restored Israel that will make them willing to receive and share the kingdom blessings with the Gentiles, and to dwell peaceably with them in the Millennium. One of the greatest proofs that Israel will truly be restored is that they will no longer have their prejudice toward other nations.