A. AUTHOR: 1. From the title of the book and the introduction formula, which is similar to the other prophetic books, Jonah has been accepted as the author of the book from antiquity. 2. The prophet Jonah prophesied in the reign of Jeroboam II, king of Israel ca. 790-749 BC From 2 Kings 14:23-27 we see that Jonah was a well known prophet of God and associated with the royal court of Israel probably somewhat like Isaiah and Jeremiah were with Judah. Jonah was a statesman prophet, not a 'backwoods' prophet like Elijah or John the Baptist. 3. The event in the book probably occurred early in his prophetic career. 4. Jonah was from Geth-helper, about 3 miles NE of Nazareth. His name means "Dove". B. BACKGROUND: 1. Jonah was called to cry against that "great city" Nineveh, capital of Assyria, and long the enemy of his people, Israel. 2. Nineveh was surrounded by a complex of suburbs with a heavy population of about 600,000 at this time. At its height it was fortified with several walls, the greatest inner defense being a wall 8 miles long and 100 feet high and wide enough for three chariots to drive abreast, with 1500 towers which were 200 ft high. 3. Assyrian inscriptions tell of reforms at this time and of an attempt by Adad-Nirari III toward monotheism. C. CHARACTER: 1. The form of the book is unlike that of any other Old Testament prophetic boos, it is biographical. 2. The book is often accused of being myth by modernist and religious liberals because of the miracle of the great fish. However: a. Jonah was a real person -- 2 Kings 14:24. b. Jesus accredited the story of the great sea-monster as factual. Matthew 12:39-41. c. The Lord also represents the story as true that Nineveh repented. Luke 11:29-32. d. There is no way to doubt the historicity of Jonah and have regard for the integrity of Jesus. 3. Many disbelievers who lavishly praise the book of Jonah reject its historicity and treat Jonah despicable. They classify the book as: a. Myth -- grounded in "dragon-myth" (C.B. Taylor). b. Legend -- "The book of Jonah... rests upon legends of different sorts" (Bentzen). c. Allegory -- "It is neither literal history nor a short story pure and simple, but an allegory similar to the parables of Jesus." (Calkins). (Jonah in the belly represents the Babylonian captivity, etc). d. Parable -- "a finely-told parable." (S.B. Frost). ("The book is Hebrew prophecy at its highest level, told in the form of a parable.") e. Fiction, poetry, folk-tale, satire, midrash. f. Dream -- "...a dream produced in that sleep which fell upon him as he lay in the side of the ship." (Grimm). g. Compound -- Various views together. 4. Some other arguments for the historicity of the book of Jonah include: a. The natural, obvious interpretation of the language. b. The style of the book is historical. c. The dissimilarity between this account and heathen myths and legends. d. The voice of antiquity. The book was always accepted by early Jewish audiences as historical. e. Jonah was not a mythological person but a real man who lived at a definite time and place in history and among men (2 Kings 14:24). f. The canonicity of the book of Jonah and its placement in the Old Testament. g. The use made of the account of Jonah by Jesus (see #2 above). D. DESIGN: 1. The book itself is the self-humiliating confession of Jonah. It shows us his growth in the Lord as he becomes the great prophet of 2 Kings 14. Jonah's sin was great--but so was his repentance and the lesson he learned-- the very existence of the book reveals this. 2. The design of the book is Didactic -- to rebuke any tendency toward bigotry on the part of the Hebrew people and to show that "in every nation he that feareth [God] and worketh righteousness is acceptable to him." (Acts 10:34,35). 3. The book is Typical -- to typify the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Matthew 12:38-41; Luke 11:29-32 4. Outline: Chapter 1 Jonah Running AWAY from God Chapter 2 Jonah Running TO God Chapter 3 Jonah Running WITH God Chapter 4 Jonah Running AHEAD of God Some Suggestive Lessons From the Book of Jonah 1. God is the God of all nations. (Acts 10:34,35; Acts 11:18). 2. God loves all men. (John 3:16). 3. God's love is holy. Holy love cannot approve sin, but He graciously provides the way of redemption for the sinner. 4. God rules in all places and over all elements. 5. The book of Jonah is a rebuke to those who long for the conversion of sinners provided that only certain types of sinners come. 6. "... the wonderful power of true repentance." 7. The book of Jonah is a rebuke to every Christian who does not have the passion to win men to Christ. 8. The preacher must constantly realize his own desperate need for God's grace. ("Do I have the right motive?") 9. The man who questions the wisdom of God really claims to know more than God. 10. The very universality of the divine plan of human redemption demands world-wide evangelization. 11. It is the duty and privilege of God's servants to render prompt and eager obedience. 12. It is refreshing to see a man who is big enough to admit his mistakes. 13. In what a marvelous way is the miraculous experience of Jonah typical of the death and the burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. 14. "The universal concern of God for man." (Jack Lewis) 15. The book of Jonah is the book of evangelism in the Old Testament. 16. The book of Jonah is a confession story. 17. God's promises, warnings, and threats are conditional. Jeremiah 18:7f; Ezek. 18:32; Hebrews 5:9; 2 Peter 3:9 18. The secret of successful preaching is preaching the Word; Jonah 3:1; 2 Timothy 4:2 19. Obedience is necessary to please God. 2 Thes. 1:9 20. The power of God is infinite. 21. "Then to the Gentiles also hath God granted repentance unto life." Acts 11:18.