JONAH—THE MISUNDERSTOOD PROPHET

by Steven Collins

If I were to ask you what Old Testament prophet is known as the “disobedient prophet” or the “prophet with a bad attitude,” many would instantly reply that the prophet was Jonah. Jonah was unquestionably disobedient to God’s initial command to go to Nineveh, and the book of Jonah does end with Jonah in a deep funk regarding the outcome of his prophetic mission.

What would you answer if I asked you this question: What Old Testament prophet did Jesus Christ personally choose to equate himself to in his role as the Messiah? The answer to this question is also the prophet Jonah. In Matthew 12:38-41, 16:4 and Luke 11:29-32, Jesus Christ personally likened himself to the prophet Jonah. Jesus specifically said that even as Jonah was “three days and three nights in the whale’s belly,” so would he be in “the heart of the earth” for that same period of time.

Why did Jesus Christ compare himself so closely to a “disobedient” prophet? This article will make the case that there is a lot more to the story of Jonah than Christians have generally realized. Here is, as Paul Harvey would have said, “the rest of the story.”

Many do not realize that Jonah is mentioned elsewhere in the Old Testament besides the book that bears his name. The information that is in the other discussion of Jonah’s life helps put the book of Jonah in its proper perspective. II Kings 14:23-29 relates the fact that Jonah was a prophet during the reign of King Jeroboam II of the northern kingdom of Israel. This passage includes some surprising information. Verses 23-24 record that Jeroboam II reigned for 41 years and that he was an “evil” king like most of the kings of Israel. Jeroboam II no doubt did not see himself in that light, but the Bible makes this observation because Jeroboam II did not return his kingdom to the worship of the God of the Bible. In spite of Jeroboam II’s sinfulness, Verse 25-28 relates that God had mercy upon the kingdom of Israel and strengthened the kingdom of Israel under Jeroboam II’s reign. The kingdom of Israel regained lost territory and even conquered the Syrian cities of Hamath and Damascus. Besides giving us a historical account, this part of the Bible also gives us encouragement that God can choose to have mercy on nations in spite of their sins.

The northern kingdom of Israel was victorious..

c o n t i n u e . .

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