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by Robert Hawker
THE PROPHET JONAH
WE now enter upon the writings of Jonah, the fifth of the minor Prophets, so called from the lesser extent of their sermons. He is called Jonah the son of Amittai, both which names are significant, as most of the Hebrew names are: Jonah signifying a dove, and Amittai, truth. His writings have been called by some sepher Jonah, that is, the book of Jonah. And indeed the book itself is more historical than prophetical; for, excepting one fragment in it, in which Jonah cried and said, yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown, Jonah 3:4 . there is nothing of prophecy in it. I rather venture to consider Jonah himself as an eminent type of the Lord Jesus Christ: and therefore his writings became very sweet, as the record of his typical character.
The time of Jonah's ministry is not so accurately stated as to mark it with exact precision. Of himself we have a full account, when he lived and where he sprung from, 2 Kings 14:25 . And this refutes the account of those in our Lord's days, who declared that no Prophet arose out of Galilee, for Gath-hepher is well known as a town in Zebulun of Galilee, John 7:52 . It also makes Jonah's ministry to be more ancient than either of the Prophets; Hosea, Isaiah, Joel, or Amos, being during the reigns of Joash and Jeroboam. But his ministry being directed to Nineveh, and not to Israel, makes it in some measure unconnected with the general thread of the Church's history.
The authority of Jonah as a Prophet, and of those his writings, can need no other than what the Lord Jesus himself hath given of both, Matthew 12:39-40.12.41 . And in respect to our improvement of this part of scripture, I should hope, that independent of the humbling lesson we here learn in Jonah's character, of attempting to flee from the presence of the Lord, as well as his infirmity of temper on the withering of the gourd; the views such things give us of poor fallen nature in its highest characters, will be always profitable. And no less at the same time, the blessed representations here made of divine goodness, patience, and long-suffering towards his servant's frailties; I say, independent of these things; which are highly improving; if we read this book, as setting forth Jonah the type of the ever blessed Jesus, a large scope of the sweetest and richest improvements will, under the Lord's teaching, arise out of it. May that Almighty Lord of his Church and people, who hath given us this scripture, give both Writer and Reader grace also to the wise understanding of it, that as it is given by inspiration, so it may be profitable to us for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. Amen.
the Second Week of Advent