Updated: Feb 19, 2021
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INTRODUCTION. Jonah was a prophet to the northern kingdom of Israel. His home was Gath Hepher, a border town in the territory of Zebulun. He prophesied, by the word of the Lord, the expansion of the borders of Israel during the days of Jeroboam II who reigned over Israel from 793-753 B. C. (II Kings 14:23-29). Jeroboam II was the great grandson of Jehu, the king who destroyed the house of Ahab and cleansed the northern kingdom of Baal worship.
One day the Lord told Jonah to go to Nineveh, the great capital city of Assyria, and "cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me" (Jonah 1:2). Nineveh was located on the Tigris River about 225-250 miles north of Babylon. The city was surrounded by a high, massive wall about eight miles in circumference. The population at the time of Jonah's mission was 120,000 or more (Jonah 4:11).
The cruel Assyrian empire had inflicted great suffering on the peoples of the world for centuries. Their first conflict with Israel had occurred one hundred years earlier during the reigns of Ahab and Jehu. Jonah, therefore, was reluctant to go to Nineveh to preach a message of repentance to Israel's enemy. Jonah instead attempted to run away from God.
The book of Jonah can be summarized as follows:
Chapter 1 - Jonah runs from God
Chapter 2 - Jonah runs to God
Chapter 3 - Jonah runs with God
Chapter 4 - Jonah runs ahead of God