Jonah: Dead or Alive? by Dr. J. Vernon McGee



Jonah is the book of the Bible which perhaps has been criticized more than any other. Unfortunately, many Christians thoughtlessly cast aspersions upon this important book in the canon of Scripture without realizing that they are playing into the hands of the critics and innocently becoming the dupes of the skeptics. You hear even Christians say, when they hear a tall story, “My, that’s a Jonah!” What they really mean is that it is something that is hard, or maybe even impossible, to believe.

Is the Book of Jonah “the Achilles’ heel” of the Bible? It is if we are to accept the ridiculous explanations of the critics. The translators of the Septuagint were the first to question the reasonableness of this book. They set the pattern for the avalanche of criticism which has come down to the present day. The ancient method of modernism is to allegorize the book and to classify it with Robinson Crusoe and Gulliver’s Travels. Today liberalism uses the same tactics. They make of it an allegory, saying that actually it never took place at all.

Jonah is an historical character and the author of this book. I want to turn to an historical book, 2 Kings, where we read: “In the fifteenth year of Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel began to reign in Samaria, and reigned forty and one years” (2 Kings 14:23). As far as I know, no one has ever questioned that Jeroboam II lived, that he was a king in the northern kingdom of Israel, and that he reigned forty–one years. This is an historical record. We read further: “And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD: he departed not from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin. He restored the coast of Israel from the entering of Hamath unto the sea of the plain, according to the word of the LORD God of Israel, which he spake by the hand of his servant, Jonah, the son of Amittai, the prophet, which was of Gath–hepher” (2 Kings 14:24–25, italics mine). Jeroboam was a real person, Israel was a real nation, Hamath was a real place, and it is quite unlikely that this man Jonah is a figment of the imagination. This is an historical record, and it is reasonable to conclude that Jonah is an historical character.

I found this book to be quite interesting, as well as revealing. I have been listening to Dr. J. Vernon McGee’s commentary on this book for roughly a week or two, which is pretty much all that is written in this book. Each and every time that I listen to it I tend to pick up something that I passed over during the previous times. I never placed much stock in this book and therefore never paid much attention to it. about two months ago, while in prayer I sought guidance and this was what had been dropped into my lap, so-to-say! There are an abundant of lessons to be gleaned from this little four chapter book, lessons we can all use within our lives, both to live our lives for God’s glory and to spread His word to all those who are lost.



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