Author: Jonah 1:1 specifically identifies the Prophet Jonah as the author of the Book of  Jonah.

Date of Writing: The Book of Jonah was likely  written between 793 and 758 B.C.

Purpose of Writing: Disobedience and revival are the key themes in this book. Jonah’s experience in  the belly of the whale provides him with a unique opportunity to seek a unique  deliverance, as he repents during this equally unique retreat. His initial  disobedience leads not only to his personal revival, but to that of the  Ninevites as well. Many classify the revival which Jonah brings to Nineveh as  one of the greatest evangelistic efforts of all time.

Key Verses:  Jonah 1:3,  “But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish…”

Jonah 1:17, “But the LORD provided a great fish to  swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three  nights.”

Jonah 2:2, “In  my distress I called to the LORD, and He answered me. From the depths of the  grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry.”

Jonah 3:10, “When God saw what they did and how they  turned from their evil ways, He had compassion and did not bring upon them the  destruction he had threatened.”

Brief Summary: Jonah’s  fear and pride cause him to run from God. He does not wish to go to Nineveh to  preach repentance to the people, as God has commanded, because he feels they are  his enemies, and he is convinced that God will not carry out his threat to  destroy the city. Instead he boards a ship for Tarshish, which is in the  opposite direction. Soon a raging storm causes the crew to cast lots and  determine that Jonah is the problem. They throw him overboard, and he is  swallowed by a great fish. In its belly for 3 days and 3 nights, Jonah repents  of his sin to God, and the fish vomits him up on dry land (we wonder what took  him so long to repent). Jonah then makes the 500-mile trip to Nineveh and leads  the city in a great revival. But the prophet is displeased (actually pouts)  instead of being thankful when Nineveh repents. Jonah learns his lesson,  however, when God uses a wind, a gourd and a worm to teach him that He is  merciful.

Foreshadowing: That Jonah is a type of  Christ is clear from Jesus’ own words. In Matthew  12:40-41, Jesus declares that He will be in the grave the same amount of  time Jonah was in the whale’s belly. He goes on to say that while the Ninevites  repented in the face of Jonah’s preaching, the Pharisees and teachers of the Law  who rejected Jesus were rejecting One who is far greater than Jonah. Just as  Jonah brought the truth of God regarding repentance and salvation to the  Ninevites, so too does Jesus bring the same message (Jonah 2:9; John 14:6) of  salvation of and through God alone (Romans  11:36).

Practical Application: We cannot hide from  God. What He wishes to accomplish through us will come to pass, despite all our  objections and foot-dragging. Ephesians  2:10 reminds us that He has plans for us and will see to it that we conform  to those plans. How much easier it would be if we, unlike Jonah, would submit to  Him without delay!

God’s love manifests itself in His accessibility to  all, regardless of our reputation, nationality or race. The free offer of the  Gospel is for all people in all times. Our task as Christians is to be the means  by which God tells the world of the offer and to rejoice in the salvation of  others. This is an experience God wants us to share with Him, not being jealous  or resentful of those who come to Christ in “last-minute conversions” or who  come through circumstances dissimilar to our own.