There’s only one sentence of prophecy in this book. And it turns out wrong: “Forty days from now Nineveh will be destroyed!” (Jonah 3:4).
This isn’t the only thing strange about the book of Jonah. Of all the 16 Bible prophets with books named after them, Jonah is the only one who rebels against God. And he does it twice.
- Rebellion 1. Ordered to deliver the doom message to Nineveh, Jonah sails off in the opposite direction. But getting thrown overboard in a storm and swallowed by a big fish convinces him to do as God told him.
- Rebellion 2. After Nineveh repents and God spares the city, Jonah pouts. He’s embarrassed that his prophecy didn’t come true. And he’s mad that God didn’t go ahead and kill Nineveh’s 120,000 citizens anyhow.
All of this makes Jonah look like a low life-lower than a whale’s belly. Jonah really doesn’t need his biographer to accentuate the negative. But the writer does.
In four short chapters, nearly everyone and everything obeys God. The only exception is Jonah, God’s holy prophet.
The wind and sea obey, churning up a storm to rock Jonah’s boat. The sailors obey agreeing to throw Jonah overboard. The big fish obeys, swallowing Jonah and spitting him out as a loogie. The pagan king of one of the world’s cruelest empires obeys, ordering his people to repent. And the citizens of Nineveh obey, asking God’s forgiveness for their sins.
Everyone’s on board with God except Jonah, God’s prophet.