Jonah 1 Jonah’s Disobedience.
This book is written by “Jonah the son of Amittai” (v. 1 Cf. II Kgs. 14:25), who was called to preach to the northern kingdom, “during the reign of Jeroboam (793-753)” (NGSB. p.1416). Apparently this king restored the northern boundaries of Israel, as in the days of Solomon (I Kgs. 8:65). His contemporary in the southern kingdom of Judah was Azariah or Uzziah (792-740). Elisha also preached at this time. Evidently there was some complacency, because they ceased to see the extension of the LORD’s grace to their neighbours, such as Nineveh (Cf. Ps. 145:8; Acts 10:34-35; Rom. 3:29). Critical scholars doubt the historicity of the man and his book, but Christ affirmed the historical fact of Jonah and his book (Mt. 12:38-42; Lk. 11:29-32). “Nineveh was located on the east side of the Tigris River directly opposite the modern city of Mosul in northern Iraq” (Ibid. p.1418).
The book affirms the LORD’s sovereign control of creation and history (v. 9). The LORD called Jonah to preach a message of repentance to the city of Nineveh, the principle city of Assyria, but instead Jonah fled from the LORD by ship to Tarshish (vv. 1-3 Cf. Gen. 10:11-12; Is. 23:1; 37:37). The LORD’s sovereign control of creation is seen first in the tempest at sea, causing the Gentile mariners to be afraid, every man calling out to their gods and throwing cargo overboard (vv. 4-5 Cf. I Sam. 24:3; Ps. 107:25-28). The captain then found Jonah asleep in the bottom of the ship and wondered why he was not also calling on his God (v. 6 Cf. Joel 2:14). Since they saw their end as near, and that they did all they could do to prevent it, they resorted to the casting of lots and the lot fell to Jonah showing to them that he was the problem (vv. 7-8 Cf. Josh. 7:14-19; I Sam. 14:41-43).
The mariners then interrogated him, to which he replied that he was a Hebrew who feared “the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land” (v. 9 Neh. 9:6; Ps. 146:6; Acts 17:24). When they discovered why he was with them, they asked him what should be done to calm the waters (vv. 10-11). Jonah obviously agreed with the mariners that he was the problem, accepted the blame, and told them to throw him overboard (v. 12 Jn. 11:50). Initially they actually wanted to avoid throwing Jonah overboard, so they began to row harder for shore. However, in the end they asked the LORD to forgive them for what they were about to do, and it would appear that they may have been converted (vv. 13-17 Cf. Ps. 89:9; 115:3; Pr. 21:30; Dan. 4:35; Mt. 12:40; Mk. 4:41; Lk. 8:24; 11:30; Acts 5:11).