We are working on the “minor prophet” Jonah in this series. Not only does 2 Kings 14 refer to Jonah as an historical person, but the Lord Jesus as well testifies that he was not simply a “fable with a message” (as some critics have said).
In Matthew 12 we read: 38 Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.” 39 He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here.
Jesus refers to “the sign of the prophet Jonah.” It seems obvious that the Lord Jesus believed Jonah was real, his three days in the belly of the sea creature was real, and the repentance of the people of Nineveh was real!
We will eventually discuss Jonah’s being swallowed by (perhaps) a specially-created sea creature in a subsequent post. But the point right now is that Jonah was real, historical, and served as a point of comparison for the Lord Jesus!
There were probably a number of aspects of being a prophet of God that were attractive. Some were not. And being called to go to the hated Assyrians with a message from God could not have been more unpleasant for Jonah.
We don’t know how “the word of the Lord came” to Jonah, only that it did. It was undeniable and not open to debate. But the certainty of the command does not automatically lead to an obedience to the command, and Jonah flees. We will look at Jonah’s response in our next post.
A prayer for today: “Lord, thank You for the historical nature of the story of Jonah. Help me today to listen to Your Word — and to do what You call me to do. In Jesus’ name. Amen.” (to be continued)