Yonah is exclusively to strangers against Nineweh. The book is Autographical in that it tells a story in the life of the prophet, as it only has one utterance to the people and that is:
And Yonah began to go in to the city on the first day’s walk. And he cried out and said, “Yet forty days, and Nineweh shall be overthrown!” (Jonah 3:4)
Yonah is entirely historical with the exception to this one line of prophecy. One would expect him to be put in the historical writings such as Chronicles or Kings, but is put in the minor prophets because, well, he was a prophet. And we know that he was a prophet based on 2Kings 14:25:
He restored the border of Yisra’el from the entrance of Chamath to the Sea of the Aravah, according to the word of Yahweh Elohiym of Yisra’el, which He had spoken through His servant Yonah son of Amittai, the prophet who was from Gath Chepher. (2Kings 14:25)
This places Yonah during the reign of Yarov’am son of Yo’ash of the Northern Kingdom. He had a specific type of ministry and that is to advise the King on what he should do. And the advice here was to restore the border of Yisra’el at the entrance of Chamath(Fortress) to the Arabah (The Dead Sea).
Yonah had no problem telling his own people what to do as far as being restored to Yahweh. But he had a big problem with showing compassion for strangers who were his enemies. He wanted no part of telling the Ninewites to repent. In fact, he wanted to go in the opposite direction to Tarshish. Yahushua warns us of this kind of attitude towards our enemies:
“You heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those cursing you, do good to those hating you, and pray for those insulting you and persecuting you, so that you become sons of your Father in the heaven. Because He makes His sun rise on the wicked and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:43-45)
Why? because Yahweh shows compassion, patience and is great in kindness:
Yahweh is good to all, And He has compassion on all His works. All Your works give thanks to You, O Yahweh, And Your kind ones bless You. (Psalm 145:9-10)
And Yahweh passed before him and proclaimed, “Yahweh, Yahweh, an El compassionate and showing favour, patient, and great in kindness and truth, watching over kindness for thousands, forgiving crookedness and transgression and sin, but by no means leaving unpunished, visiting the crookedness of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.” (Exodus 34:6-7)
And it is because of the fact that He extends great compassion towards us, He expects us to do likewise.
The Hebrew word translated as ‘compassionate’ is rakhum – Strong’s H7349 which means, compassionate, merciful, and the word translated as ‘showing favour’ is Khanun – Strong’s H2587 which means, favourable, gracious’ and comes from the root verb Khanan – Strong’s H2603 meaning, show favour, be gracious to, dealt graciously with, given to them voluntarily, shown favour.
A derivative of this word is the word khen (pronounced kān like “cane”) – Strong’s H2580 meaning, ‘grace, adornment, favour, gracious’. These two words, khen and khanan, are collectively used 141 times in the Tanak (O.T.).
The word translated as ‘kindness’ is khesed – Strong’s H2617 and means, ‘goodness, kindness, deeds of devotion, faithfulness’, and the word translated as ‘truth’ is emeth – Strong’s H571 which means, ‘truth, firmness, faithfulness’, and this word carries an underlying sense of certainty and dependability – and we know that The Word of Yahweh is truth:
Psalm 119:142 Your righteousness is righteousness forever, and Your Torah is truth.
Psalm 119:151 You are near, O Yahweh, and all Your commands are truth.
Psalm 119:160 The sum of Your word is truth, and all Your righteous right-rulings are forever.
Because compassion is the character of Yahweh, the Torah defines for us what that is through His commands and instructions. And those who refuse to walk in His instructions are refusing to love and are not in the truth:
Beloved ones, let us love one another, because love is of Elohiym, and everyone who loves has been born of Elohiym, and knows Elohiym. The one who does not love does not know Elohiym, for Elohiym is love. By this the love of Elohiym was manifested in us, that Elohiym has sent His only brought-forth Son into the world, in order that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved Elohiym, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be an atoning offering for our sins. Beloved ones, if Elohiym so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (1John 4:7-11)
Yahweh shows us His character in the word khesed and it has the idea of a relationship bond, be it through family, marriage or kinship, and it is used in regards to a bond of relationship that it produces. It is a requirement or an obligation of action, where both parties share kindness and expect from each other reciprocally. That is to say it is not a free gift, rather it is expected of one another.
Now because we accept His free gift of favor through His Son Yahushua, we can walk in His kindness. And because we have been given favor we too are to give favor and kindness to those who might not deserve it in our eyes. Yahweh often puts something in our path that really gets our goad. Someone on the news who makes us so angry and upset inside perhaps. Here begins the test of our compassion. Yahweh is looking to see if we have grown in our understanding of the Covenant He made with us through His compassion. Will we bring about His character or will we bring about our own self-will? Will we, like Ya’acob and Yochanan, call down fire from heaven in judgment? Or like Yonah will we sit on the hill and sulk in anger because they were given compassion? Yahushua gives a clear story about this in this parable:
Then Kepha came to Him and said, “Master, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Yahushua said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. “Because of this the reign of the heaven is like a certain man, a King who desired to settle accounts with his servants. “And when he had begun to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents, but as he was unable to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. “Then the servant fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I shall pay you all.’ “And the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. “And that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred pieces of money. And he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ “Then his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I shall pay you all.’ “But he would not, and went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. “And when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were deeply grieved, and came and reported to their master all that had taken place. “Then his master called him and said to him, ‘Wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt seeing you begged me. ‘Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, as I also had compassion on you?’ “And his master was wroth, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. “So also My heavenly Father shall do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” (Matthew 18:21-35)
Whether we realize it or not even our enemies serve the Master. Even if they are serving satan, they are still serving Him because even satan serves Yahweh’s will. All men are created in the image of Yahweh and should be respected as such.
We did not earn the right to this Covenant, Yahweh made the Covenant out of His favor, and therefore we understand that the favor, freely given, entails kindness, which now both parties are to be committed to, and both have an obligation to keep its requirements. If we reject the obligations and requirements of the Covenant, we are in fact rejecting and forsaking the kindness of Elohim, and by doing so are rejecting Yahushua’s bond to us, given freely, by His own Blood!
For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, led astray, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in evil and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of Elohiym our Saviour toward man appeared, He saved us, not by works of righteousness which we have done but according to His compassion, through the washing of rebirth, and renewal by the Set-apart Spirit, which He poured out on us richly through Yahushua Anointed our Saviour, that having been declared right by His favour we should become heirs according to the expectation of everlasting life. (Titus 3:3-7)
Yahushua poured forth the Fathers character to the people and to us. It is incumbent upon us to understand the kindness of Yahweh:
Psalm 107:43 Who is wise? Then let him observe these matters! Let them understand the kindness of Yahweh.
Yonah did not understand this kindness and became bitter and self-loathing. All he wanted was justice and vengeance. The story of Yonah is left blank because the point is it is up to us to decide what we are going to do in the same situation, show the kindness of Yahweh or show the wrath of self? Whose character are we bringing about again?
Remember who we serve, we serve a Loving, Compassionate Creator, who has been nothing but patient and favorable towards us. And all He wants is simply for everyone to repent and not perish:
Yahweh is not slow in regard to the promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward us, not desiring that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.(2Peter 3:9)
We must also remember who we are as well:
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a set-apart nation, a people for a possession, that you should proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light, who once were not a people, but now the people of Elohiym; who had not obtained compassion, but now obtained compassion. (1Peter 2:9-10)
But you, beloved ones, building yourselves up on your most set-apart belief, praying in the Set-apart Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of Elohiym, looking for the compassion of our Adon Yahushua Anointed unto everlasting life. And show compassion toward some who are doubting, but others save with fear, snatching them out of the fire, hating, even the garment defiled by the flesh. (Jude 1:20-23)
Yonah forgot who he was and needed a reminder because his people were pulled out of sin many a time, so too Nineweh needed to be pulled out of the fire of judgment of Yahweh. They thankfully, at the time, repented. We often don’t think about how much pain Yahweh goes through. Think about this for a moment. Imagine your are Yahweh, you feel all the pain of billions and billions of people saying vile things at you for milinia, all at once. Not only that, but all the acts of wickedness that you see all at once, and the pain that it causes. Our pain is nothing compared to His. And yet, He still has compassion enough to send His ONLY begotten Son to die on our behalf. How much pain was that? Now, may we understand what a great Elohiym we serve. May we show compassion towards a world who is lost, not because they deserve it but because they need it. May Yahweh have kindness and show us favor. Forgive us Father for all the pain that we have caused you.
Give thanks to the El of the heavens! For His kindness is everlasting. (Psalm 136:26)