Jonah was a prophet from Israel to Ninevah, the large capital of the Assyrian empire. Assyria was notorious for its cruelty to its enemies, a reputation the cultivated and memorialized in inscriptions that still survive. He was a historical figure, not a parable or myth. Jesus referred to him as an historical person three times in the New Testament, and he is, in fact, the only prophet with whom Jesus compared Himself.

Jonah ministered to Assyria reluctantly, to say the least. The reason for this reticence was in Jonah’s preference for blessing on Israel. He had already prophesied its renewed strength (II Kings 14:25) and now both Syria and Assyria were in a period of weakness. Jonah likely felt this was an opportune time for God to restore his own nation, Israel. Judgment rather than mercy on Assyria would facilitate Jonah’s nationalistic hope. God’s purpose, however, was to illustrate that His mercy is not limited to one nation.

The account of the whale is embarrassing to many moderns who think, after Darwin, as naturalists. Men are fascinated with strange and unbelievable events as long as they are seen as random (there are accounts of men being swallowed by sea creatures then rescued), will balk at the idea of God’s direct intervention in history.

Jesus explained lessons to be learned from Jonah. In addition to the three days and three nights representing His time in the tomb, Jonah, like Jesus preached repentance to all men, so the Ninevites of Jonah’s day would be witnesses against the unbelief of the first century Jews who rejected God in the flesh. Why would Ninevah repent? It seems anomalous to us, but it does shows that repentance is not in the preacher or the people, but the gift of God’s regenerating Spirit.

The prophet himself is not shown in a very positive light in this book. He wanted to dictate God’s providence. Jonah was not happy with the prospect of Ninevah repenting so he tried to run from his calling to preach. Then he was unhappy with the success of his message. He preferred judgment on his enemies and mercy on his countrymen. The book ends with God’s chastising of the prophet for his selfishness. Jonah’s nationalistic and racial prejudices also later characterized the first century Jews, as well as many Christians since.

MP3 Albums:

Product Contains1 zip file (166 MB)
Media Length4 Tracks
TopicsBiblical Commentary, Minor Prophets, Old Testament History

About the author

Mark R. Rushdoony

Mark R. Rushdoony graduated from Los Angeles Baptist College (now The Master’s College) with a B.A. in history in 1975 and was ordained to the ministry in 1995.

He taught junior and senior high classes in history, Bible, civics and economics at a Christian school in Virginia for three years before joining the staff of Chalcedon in 1978. He was the Director of Chalcedon Christian School for 14 years while teaching full time. He also helped tutor all of his children through high school.

In 1998, he became the President of Chalcedon and Ross House Books, and, more recently another publishing arm, Storehouse Press. Chalcedon and its subsidiaries publish many titles plus CDs, mp3s, and an extensive online archive at

He has written scores of articles for Chalcedon’s publications, both the Chalcedon Report and Faith for all of Life. He was a contributing author to The Great Christian Revolution (1991). He has spoken at numerous conferences and churches in the U.S. and abroad.

Mark Rushdoony lives in Vallecito, California, his home of 43 years with his wife of 45 years and his youngest son. He has three married children and nine grandchildren.

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