The theme of the book of Jonah is purely about evangelism. Together with the book of Acts, these two books deal with evangelism more than any other book in the Bible.
The book of Jonah is not a fictional book, nor was Jonah a fictional character. Jonah was an actual person that lived. Chapter one of this book tells us that Jonah was the son of Amittai, not an imaginary character.
Jonah was a prophet during the reign of Amaziah, king of Israel. He came from Gathhepher, a town from lower Galilee, which is about five miles from Nazareth. So Jonah was a real individual. The reason I’m saying this is because some people treat the book of Jonah as if it is a fictional bed time story book for kids. Jonah is a book for responsible adults to escape the judgment of God.
Jonah was a prophet/preacher/evangelist who was asked by God to go and preach to the people of Nineveh. At first, he refused, after which, came the episode of the big fish. That commandment given to Jonah is no different to the commandment given to Christians today in Mark chapter 16:15 “…Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel.” Jonah’s commandment was to go to Nineveh and preach. Jonah 1:1.
God wants his message preached and he has given us the mandate to do so.
Romans 10: 13-15 “…For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? As it is written, how beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
The process to salvation is simple. Preach it for people to hear, believe, and repent. But how can they believe if they have not heard? And how can they hear without a preacher? The people of Nineveh needed God’s salvation or else they would have been destroyed. Jonah was the preacher responsible to bring them God’s word. Once they heard the words from Jonah, they believed, called on the name of the Lord, and repented. The entire city of Nineveh’s salvation depended on Jonah’s message from God.
As Christians, we are preachers by default according to Mark 16:15. Who are we preaching to? Are we even preaching at all? How many lives will perish because we fail to open your mouths? We definitely don’t want to wake up in Sheol like Jonah regretting not preaching. You might ask what if I preach and people don’t get saved? That is none of your business; your business is to obey and preach.
So let’s examine Chapter 3
Jonah Preaches at Nineveh
3 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you.” 3 So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, [a]a three-day journey in extent. 4 And Jonah began to enter the city on the first day’s walk. Then he cried out and said, “Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”
Jonah is now in compliance after his experience in Sheol/hell and the fish’s belly. Jonah went through hell to be compliant when he could have simply obeyed at first. I pray you do not have to go through hell to be compliant to God’s word. The message that God gave Jonah was not to explain but to proclaim. Jonah was not called to be a teacher at that point but a preacher. His proclamation was “Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” – Just eight powerful words.
The “big” miracle in the book of Jonah is not the big fish. The “big” miracle is right here in this chapter. I advise that you read my previous post “chapter 2” before you can relate to what I’m about to say next. The fish’s job in chapter two was not to eat Jonah. The fish’s job was to rescue Jonah and transport him from the bottom of the sea, back to land. God answered Jonah’s prayer whiles his soul was in Sheol and his body still at sea. Jonah died and went to hell. Jonah revived. Jonah could not have walked his way back to land, but swim. We don’t know how good a swimmer he was and how far down the sea he was. So he needed transportation back to land and God provided him with one in the form of this great fish. “…for the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah.” Chapter 1:17.
Why is the book of Jonah even in the Bible? What is the purpose of its story and what must we learn from it? The book of Jonah teaches us about the urgency and need for evangelism but most importantly, was prophesying about Jesus.
LET’S SEE SOME INTERESTING PARELLELS BETWEEN JONAH AND JESUS.
1. Jonah’s mission was to call Nineveh to repentance Jonah 1:1; 3:1-2. Jesus’ mission was to call all of mankind, to repentance Matthew 4:17.
2. Jonah was willing to sacrifice his life in disobedience by asking the mariners to throw him off the ship Jonah 1:12. Jesus was willing to sacrifice His life in obedience for the salvation of the world. Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45; 1 Timothy 2:6.
3. Jonah was entombed in the belly of a great fish. Jonah 2:1. Jesus was entombed in the belly of the earth. Matthew 27:60; Mark 6:29; Luke 23:53.
4. On the third day Jonah was “resurrected” from the belly of the fish Jonah 2:11. On the third day, Jesus was resurrected from the belly of the earth. Matthew 17:23; 20:19; Mark 9:31; 10:34; Luke 9:22.
5. After Jonah’s “resurrection” he continued his mission by calling the gentile Nineveh to repentance and salvation Jonah 3:1-3. After Jesus’ resurrection, He continued His mission through the Church to the gentile. Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:12-20; Luke 24:13-53; Acts chapter 1.
6. Jonah taught that failure to repent from sin would bring God’s judgment and that salvation is a gift from God. Jonah 3:4-5;Jonah 3: 9-10. Jesus taught that failure to repent would bring God’s judgment but salvation is a gift from God Matthew 5:21-22; John 5:22-29; 8:34-36; Luke 24:47; John 3:17; 5:34; 10:19; Acts 2:21.
Again I emphasize, Jonah’s incident in the sea was not a tragedy; it was a prophecy. Likewise, Jesus’ death on the cross was not a tragedy; it was a victory.
The People of Nineveh Believe
Now this is the “BIG” miracle in this story
5 So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them. 6 Then word came to the king of Nineveh; and he arose from his throne and laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes. 7 And he caused it to be proclaimed and published throughout Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying,
Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; do not let them eat, or drink water. 8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. 9 Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?
For me to put this into perspective, I will say it like this: A preacher from Israel went to Iran, Turkey, Syria and Iraq preached the good news and they received him gladly. They repented by calling on the name of the Lord with fasting. That’s the BIG miracle.
Jonah has been the ONLY man on earth to have preached and got an entire city saved. He only spoke EIGHT words “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” That’s why the book of Jonah is more about evangelism than a kid’s bed time story. Jonah carried an anointing to reach an entire city. Christians carry more anointing than Jonah, yet we are not reaching anyone. Our anointing is to reach the world. “…go ye into all the world.”
We are the light of the world. We are not floodlights; we are brighter than floodlights. We are not headlights, let alone tail-lights. Some of us are even acting as though we have reverse light. You are a world light. You are the light of the world. Let your light shine.
Just last week, the word of the Lord came to Mariano saying write and explain about the book of Jonah to the world. Please understand, I am not a writer. Writing is one of my weakest weaknesses, let alone strength. Do I have disabilities when it comes to writing? The moment I think yes, I would open my mouth and say – let the weak say I am strong. Then I came to realize that God does not seek after those who are qualified; he qualifies those who seek him. God is not looking for ability, He is looking for availability.
Do you know what have happened since I started writing about Jonah? Do you know how many people from all around the world are visiting this website just to read about my explanation on Jonah? I didn’t know good new can travel that fast. You thought I was only reaching you? No skeptic, we might be a total of 5 down at church but our impact is reverberating the earth. We are inundated with emails saying “wow! Jonah, What an eye-opener?” Point I’m making is, we can reach the world if we want to.
Christians are willing and quick to promoting other “stuff” helping them go viral. Why not the gospel? You might say, “I cannot preach.” You can start by sharing preaching materials just like this, the same way you share other “stuff”. You are already very good at sharing. The question is what do you share? The truth is Jonah was judged for not sharing the good news, what makes us think we will not be judge likewise? Anyway, back to the story of Jonah – that was just a “plugin”.
The power behind Jonah’s anointing was the words God gave him to speak. Those eight words were so powerful that the king of Nineveh himself repented and proclaimed a fast that even beast; herd and flock partook of. Never in the history of the world has one man preached and got an entire city saved. Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, the Bible says. Jonah is the only person on earth to have done it. That’s why I believe he was, still is the greatest evangelist that ever lived.
Jesus said in Matthew 12:41 “The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.”
Every church must strive to reach the lost. A church that is not reaching the lost is already lost. Every church must exist to minister; not minister to exist. We should exist solely to reach the lost, not to recycle other Christians to form a congregation. Your Nineveh is waiting for your preaching, stop depriving them. Go ye into your Nineveh and preach.