III. Structure And Theological Themes
Basically, the book of Jonah is a unified narrative. A short prayer psalm is inserted between 1:17 and 2:10. The book has two parts: (1) Jonah's disobedience to the Lord (1:1-2:10) and (2) an obedient prophet who learned a vital lesson from the Lord (3:1-4:11). Each section begins with the same command given by the Lord to Jonah and each ends with a statement about the Lord's compassion (2:10 has Jonah's deliverance from the great fish, and 4:11 has the Lord's statement about Nineveh). Polytheists offer desperate pleas for mercy in 1:14 and 3:5-6, and Jonah offers agonizing prayers in 2:2-9 and 4:2-3. In each instance the Lord provides help.
The Lord dominates every aspect of the activities that take place. This fact is the essence of the theological themes of the book. The Lord, who is the Creator of all things and Lord of all nations, desires to offer salvation to even the worst of them.
Jonah's two prayers show that he knew that the Lord was present on the sea, in the fish, and in Nineveh. Jonah admits in his second prayer that he knew all along that the Lord's love could quickly annul his judicial decision to punish wicked people if repentance was genuine.
In the OT Jonah is the only one who heard God's command to go as a missionary to a specific foreign city.
In summary, Jonah teaches (1) God's concern for all peoples, (2) God's desire to send individuals to preach his Word, (3) God's use of nature in miraculous ways to fulfill his purposes, (4) God's role as Judge but his preference to act as Savior, (5) the fact that mission fields are often more responsive than God's own people, and (6) God's yearning to show mercy and love to any and all people.