Have you ever wondered why God bothered with Jonah? God brought Jonah back because He wanted His prophet to be a sign. He wanted His prophet’s life to embody his message. He wanted a man who lived and experienced the prodigal mercy of God, so that when He would forgive the wicked city of Nineveh, the prophet could take no credit. Jonah’s life testified to both God’s justice and His mercy. Of His justice, Jonah, as a Jew and one of God’s elect, points to the fact that God judges impartially. And of His mercy, Jonah points to just how deep God’s love extends to save His people, as from a watery abyss God lifted a guilty condemned sinner to life and service! Jonah was a sign to Nineveh that God both punished sin and raised sinners to life.
Jonah also points to the One who called himself “greater than Jonah” – One, who like Jonah did in type – died, was buried, and rose on the third day. Today the sign of Jonah has been intensified by the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. His death demonstrates that God’s justice demands that sin must be judged, and that salvation is not possible apart from the substitution of Christ’s suffering in our place. His resurrection displays the sure hope of new life in Christ. The resurrection declares that God’s justice has been satisfied and He now intends to bestow an inheritance of every spiritual blessing and eternal life to His children. What a message we have to proclaim of a God with prodigal mercy that welcomes all who come to Him – a God who is intensely interested in wicked Ninevites and so is interested in anyone, even you!