6.6 Jonah -- the Runaway Prophet
The first prophetic book we shall explore is also one of the oldest, the Book of Jonah. This is an intriguing book in two ways: for one thing its message is unique, unlike any other prophetic book. For another, it gives us a character study of the prophet himself. Jonah appears as a disgruntled misanthrope. He and Elisha, who set the bears on boys who mocked him (2 Kings 2:23-25), were cut from the same cloth. Nevertheless, there are important racial teachings in his message.
Jonah prophesied sometime during the reign of Jeroboam II (793-753). This king of Israel, otherwise evil, was militarily successful against Aram, and extended Israel's boundaries (2 Kings 14:25). It was only a temporary respite for Israel, however, since Israel was annihilated by Assyria in 722. However, the words of Jonah foretelling Jeroboam's success have been lost.