Jonah is a book of the Bible that almost all of us have some knowledge of. As children we hear the story of Jonah being swallowed by a big fish and then being spat out again. But apart from this story’s popular storytelling appeal this book offers us deep theological insight and a delightful window into the mercy and compassion of God.
Israel had split into two kingdoms in around 931 BC after the death of Solomon – it was split into the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. Jonah was a prophet in the northern kingdom of Israel in the 8th century BC. The events recorded in the Book of Jonah took place during the reign of Jeroboam II (786-746 BC). The division of the kingdom was a difficult time for Israel, and times were about to get much tougher as the might of the Assyrian empire was casting a shadow over the land and would completely conquer Israel within a few decades.
Looking at the Book of Jonah is a really good thing to do as it can help us to put those childhood stories into context and perspective. It is also a great reminder of the mercy and compassion of God and may help us to recognise and make sense of some of the complexities in our relationship with the Lord.