In all great fishing stories, the fish has to get better every time the story is told. After a few repeats the fish becomes unbelievably big. As we look back to the accurate events recorded in the book of Jonah, we have to ask ourselves if it can really be true.
The first fact we question is the historical accuracy of the book. Some skeptics believe that the book of Jonah is just a parable or a made up story. But that is not the way the Bible presents the events in the book. The book centers around a real prophet who lived in the 8th century B.C., and we have no reason to question that he really lived. Jesus did not question the historicity of Jonah. Jesus believed the events really happened (Matt. 12:38-41; 16:4; Luke 11:29-32). Still, this isn’t the biggest question of Jonah.
The biggest question in Jonah’s book is how big can God’s grace be? Jonah hated the idea that God would be gracious to the incredibly wicked Ninevites (Jonah 1:1-3). Jonah didn’t want them to be saved. Jonah wanted them to suffer the wrath of God (Jonah 4:1-4). Would God really save such wicked people?
God’s grace wasn’t just for Nineveh. It was also for Jonah. Jonah rebelled against the King of Heaven. He too deserved to endure the wrath of God, but he was repeatedly given grace. God provided a sea monster to save Jonah from the storm (Jonah 1:17). God provided a second opportunity for Jonah to obey (Jonah 2:10; 3:1-5). God provided a plant for Jonah’s shade (Jonah 4:5-6). Even though God had provided all these graces for Jonah, the prophet still couldn’t understand just how great God’s grace truly was.
The great sea monster which swallowed a prophet isn’t the star of the book. God’s grace that swallows sin is the star of the book. Don’t be distracted with the details. Be overwhelmed with God’s grace.