Before we give a bit more detail, this short book of 4 chapters could be summarized as follows:

Chapter One: Jonah’s Commission, His Disobedience and God’s Discipline.

Chapter Two: Jonah’s Repentance and Deliverance.

Chapter Three: Jonah’s Message to Nineveh, Their Repentance and Salvation.

Chapter Four: Jonah’s Displeasure and God’s Discipline.

In Chapter One God told Jonah “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness and come up before Me” (verse 2). How did Jonah react? Ah, he “arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.” In other words, he WENT IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION by boarding a ship for Tarshish. How did God respond to Jonah’s disobedience? First of all, He “sent out a great wind on the sea…so that the ship was about to be broken up” (verse 4). This frightened the crew and in time they realized the Lord had sent this storm because of Jonah (verses 4-10). Jonah then told them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will become calm for you. For I know that this great tempest is because of me” (verse 12). They did as Jonah said and then “the LORD…prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah,” and he remained “in the belly of the fish three days and three nights (verses 15-17).

In Chapter Two Jonah prayed a sincere prayer of repentance (verses 1-9) and then “the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land” (verse 10).

In Chapter Three “the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, ‘Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you” (verses 1-2). This time Jonah “arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD” (verse 3). He was now obedient to the Lord’s commission and after entering the city he cried out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown” (verse 4). Then we read of something wonderful and amazing at the same time, “So the people of Nineveh BELIEVED GOD, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them” (verse 5). The word of the Lord went straight to their heart and conscience, and they REPENTED, each and every resident of this great and wicked city! The King of the city went a step further and proclaimed a decree for all to “fast and pray” and ended the decree by saying, “Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?” (Verses 6-9). Then we read of God’s grace in verse 10, “Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it” (verse 10).

In Chapter Four we read that “it DISPLEASED Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry” (verse 1). Why was Jonah angry? We learn why in verse 2 where he prayed to the Lord that the reason he fled to Tarshish was because he knew “You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm.” In other words, Jonah was angry because he knew that if the people repented, God would show them mercy and not destroy them. How sad! Jonah himself was an object of God’s mercy but he did not want God to show mercy to the Gentiles. He then asks the Lord to “take my life” (verse 3) and God, in response, says, ‘Is it right for you to be angry?’ (verse 4). Jonah then “went out of the city and sat on the east side of the city” (verse 5) where he had a “pity party,” no doubt because he assumed his reputation as a prophet had been ruined since the city wasn’t destroyed. Yet God, in His mercy, disciplined His prophet again to teach Jonah that He had every right to “pity Nineveh” and to show them mercy (verses 6-11).

In closing, it is wonderful to see God’s infinite love and mercy in action by sparing the people of Nineveh. But there is one more very important lesson in this short book. Jonah’s experience in the belly of the fish for 3 days and 3 nights and his deliverance from it is a remarkable picture of Christ’s death and burial (for 3 days and 3 nights) and His glorious resurrection on the 3rd day. Please read Matthew 12:38-41; 27:63-64 and 1st Corinthians 15:1-4.  (DO)  (545.3)