Part 1: Jonah Who?
In reality, very little is known about Jonah. In Jonah 1:1 all we are told is that he is the son of Amittai (whoever that is). In 2Ki.14:25 Jonah is mentioned as the prophet who prophesied that Israel would re-take lands that they had lost (which they were later able to do under King Jeroboam), but it does not say when he spoke this. It also says that he was from Gath Hepher, which means that he was of the tribe of Zebulun. Interestingly, there is not too much known about the tribe of Zebulun, either, because it is mentioned only infrequently in the Bible. In the book of Jonah, he is never referred to as a prophet, per se. In fact, the mission that God has for Jonah is to go to Nineveh and “preach” or “cry” against it, not to go as a prophet and give them a “word from the Lord.” So, it is very likely that, at this time, he was not yet recognized as a prophet by anyone! He was a relatively unknown man from a fairly insignificant family/tribe. Then, why did God choose him?
I believe that God chose Jonah because he was so much like you and me --- in other words, he was very much human! Apparently, he was not rich, not famous, not from a prestigious family line; and he had some very obvious weak spots in his character! He chose him, not because Jonah was so good, but so that He could show forth HIS goodness through him!
In Deu.7:7,8a (The Message), we are told that God chose all of Israel for much the same reason, “God wasn't attracted to you and didn't choose you because you were big and important—the fact is, there was almost nothing to you. He did it out of sheer love…”
And in 1Cor.1:26-31 (NIV), Paul writes, “Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord."
Wow, put it all together and it means that there is hope for ALL of us! In spite of who we are, who we were, where we’ve come from, what we look like, whether we’re young or old, whether we’re rich or poor, whether we’re strong or weak; or even how many obvious character flaws we still struggle with, GOD CAN STILL USE US! So, be encouraged! If you’re alive and kickin’, God still desires to help you fulfill the plans that He has for you! Just remember, it’s not because of who YOU are; it’s because of who HE is in you!
Next: Thoughts on Jonah, Part 2