Jonah 1:1-2 — The Prophet’s Commission
The prophet Jonah lived in the city of Gath-hepher (four miles north of Nazareth) in the reign of Israel’s king, Jeroboam II (2 Kings 14:25). Jonah was instructed by the Lord to go to Nineveh, a thriving city 500 miles to the east. There, he would proclaim the destruction of that metropolis on account of its wickedness.
Nineveh was the capital of Assyria — the nation that God had chosen to invade the northern kingdom of Israel (cf. Hosea 11:5; Amos 5:27) because of Israel’s many sins. One might think that Jonah would have relished delivering this message of doom to a national enemy. However, the prophet knew there was a possibility that Nineveh might repent, and if it did, surely the gracious and merciful Jehovah would lift the sentence and spare the nation (cf. 4:2). So Jonah felt it was best to disregard the divine commission and thus go elsewhere. The rest of the story is history.
There are two points here worthy of consideration.
- The fact that Nineveh was viewed as “wicked” demonstrates that they were accountable to divine law — even though they were Gentiles (see Romans 4:15; 1 John 3:4).
- God’s concern for these wayward people indicates that Jehovah was an international God even at that time, and it surely hints of the universal scope of the Messiah’s kingdom.
About the Author
Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.