Poor Jonah. He really just wanted to be let off the hook. He was perfectly content with his life in Joppa and had no interest in being the messenger for God, especially to the people of Nineveh. How dare God ask him to participate in God’s plan to save those people who didn’t deserve it! As we discover near the end of the story, Jonah knew God well enough to know that was exactly what God would do.
Jonah is quite different from anything else we read among the prophets. While the rest of the books in this section of the Bible focus primarily on the content of the prophet’s message, in Jonah we get almost no content. In fact, he speaks a grand total of one sentence to the Ninevites: “In forty days Nineveh will be smashed.” Not exactly a speech that would tend to win friends and influence people. Yet, the immediate response is one of repentance and trust in God.
What we get in Jonah is a reminder that ultimately it is not the messenger that matters but the one who sends him. God’s saving work can be accomplished even in the absence of eloquence or enthusiasm.