Every Christian has an assignment in the kingdom of God. Some may find out what their assignment is at an early stage of their walk with the Lord Jesus Christ and for some it may take a long time. In spite of the time it may take, this call or gift will be identified eventually. Our assignment in the kingdom of God, calls for complete commitment, submission and dedication to the Lord. And once an assignment is given to an individual God will make sure it is completed by that individual to whom HE has assigned it too. God will not give you an assignment and expect your friend, sibling or follow saints to complete it. It doesn’t matter the amount of time you take nor the excuses you make, God will make sure, that HE use you for that particular task that HE has for you.
We will look at the life of Jonah and the assignment that God has placed for him to complete. This will be a three part lesson, so I encourage you to check in for the next three weeks as we deal with the assignment that Jonah had and how this can also apply to us.
Jonah is not part of the collection of the prophet’s oracles but primarily a story about a man, named Jonah. The name Jonah means “Dove.”, which synonymous with peace or purity. The author is mentioned in 1:1 and specifically identifies the Prophet Jonah as the author of the Book of Jonah. Throughout the book of Jonah, Jonah is referred to in the third person.
The Book of Jonah is the work of the Minor Prophets. Unlike the other prophetic books, it is not only a book written by a prophet but is a story about a prophet. The book was probably written during the 4th century before Christ. I would describe the book of Jonah as a missionary book because Jonah had to evangelize the nation of Nineveh. And we will learn why Jonah refused to go to Nineveh.
We will also find that the Ninevites had ‘believed God’ but didn’t 'believe in God', in 3:5 “So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.” There is a big difference between believing in God and believing God, because when you believe something it shows that you are confident of what you see but when you don’t believe in something you know what you see but not necessary accept what you have seen. But when you believe in something or believe in God, it shows that there is a relationship, or faith. Because the Hebrew word believed is 'a-man/ aw-man', and means, to support, confirm, be faithful, stand firm, trust. And the Nineveites did not believe in God but believed God.
So he had a task ahead of him, in that we find that Jonah’s story is a short, fast-moving story that’s opens with God instructing Jonah to go east from Israel to Assyria to "cry out", the word Cry out in Hebrew is ‘qara’ or 'kaw-raw', and means, call out, recite, read, proclaim, invited and or preach, and Jonah had to cry out against wickedness in the city of Nineveh.
Back ground history
Let’s review the history of Jonah, this servant of God that had to cry out. He was different than the other prophets because it is not full of prophecies by the prophet; it is instead, about the life of the prophet. Little attention is given to what he actually said. But it does start off with the phrase, “And the word of the Lord came to Jonah, son of Amittai, saying.” In 1:1 He was the earliest of the prophets and close behind Elisha in his place in the Old Testament. The story is Jonah is short (just 48 verses) yet powerful. The prophet Jonah served as an advisor to King Jeroboam II, in II-Kings 14:23-25, even though no king is mentioned by name but, “king of Nineveh” in 3:6. Jonah was the one who prophesied God would restore Israel’s boundaries in the reign of King Jeroboam II, in II-Kings 14:25He restored the coast of Israel from the entering of Hamath unto the sea of the plain, according to the word of the LORD God of Israel, which he spake by the hand of his servant Jonah, the son of Amittai, the prophet, which was of Gathhepher. We know that (Hamath is also known as the principal city of upper Syria in the valley of the Orontes) as far as the Dead Sea, it is also the place that king Solomon built cities, in II Chronicles 8:4”and he built Tadmor in the wilderness and all the store cities, which he built in Hamath. It is also mentioned in (II Kings 14:25). Jonah’s home was Gath-hepherand his name was first introduced right there in II-Kings 14:25. The city Gat-hepheris a town on the boundary of Zebulun according to Joshua 19:10-13. And Gat-hepher was about two miles from Nazareth the home of Jesus of whom Jonah was a ‘sign’.
In contrast to all other prophets of the OT his ministry was directed to the heathen inhabitants of Nineveh and not to the people of Israel. His father name was Ammittai a native from Gat-hepher. Jonah is mentioned in Matthew12:38-41 and Luke11:29-32. Jesus made reference to Jonah when he was asked for a miraculous sign by the Phariseesand teachers of the Law. Jonah's restoration after three days inside the great whale prefigured the Resurrection of Jesus Christ after three days. He lived in the same time period as did the prophets Amos (Amos was a prophet during the reign of Jeroboam. The Book of Amos is set in a time when the people of Israel have reached a low point in their devotion to God. Jonah also live during the time of Hosea (the prophet who God told to take a wife of whoredom for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from God Hosea 1:1 during the time of Josiah). Also in the time ofIsaiah (Isaiah has been called "the evangelical prophet" since he says so much about the Messiah and His redemptive work, son of Amoz) and Joel (the son of Pethuel from Judah). The only prophetic message that Jonah announced was the one about the coming judgment over Nineveh (Jonah 1:2; 3:2, 4). Jonah therefore is the only prophet of the OT revealing the grace of God towards the heathen. He was most likely an elderly man at the time we read of him in the book of Jonah, because he was an advisor of king Jeroboam II. While most of the other prophets prophesied to Israel and Judah, Jonah’s task was to go to Ninevah and prophesy to them. He was to preach the message to Nineveh: “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”, that was his message.
In this we see that, the book of Jonah is first proof of God’s unlimited grace and mercy. But Israel has been kept as Jonah was kept in a miraculous. We see that Jonah’s call is like a type of Christ. In Matt. 12:39-40 “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the great fish’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” I see that this book contains very practical lessons for every reader.
Purpose & Message of Jonah
The purpose of the book is to give us an example of disobedience and revival. The prophetic significance of this book not only lies in the short message in Nineveh but also in the entire history of Jonah described in his book. And we find that chapter three provides the main event of the book after the Lord spoke to Jonah a second time.
The primary message of the Book of Jonah is that God will have compassion on whomever he will, because it of the sovereignty, his ability to deliver and his great mercy. Jonah showed God's sovereignty because he is the creator of everything 1:9. God’s deliverance in 2:6 & 9. God's mercy, because God showed mercy every to the animals 4:11 and God's righteousness in 1:17 and we see this in chapters four.
Next week has we continue this lesson we will see the history of Nineveh, also how Jonah prophesy to Nineveh and how God placed Jonah into the city that he refused to go and prophesy. Even if we don’t want to fulfill the assignment that God has for us he will certainly make sure that he take you to that place on the right time to carry out HIS will. What’s your assignment?