Israel was a country divided. The Northern Kingdom had split off years ago. They were coming out of a time of “prosperity and relative peace from pesty neighbors.” Years of fairly stable leadership had “created luxury and ease for many and spawned poverty and injustice for numerous others.” Grassroot stirrings suggested things were not right; a growing feeling of malignancy was creeping through the country’s moral fabric. The king at this time was a man named Jeroboam II who “did evil in the sight of the Lord” (2 Kings 14:24). His namesake, Jeroboam I, was the founder of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, who had quickly steered the people of God toward idolatry (1 Kings 12).
In the middle of the uneasiness stood Jonah, a man of God, who spoke for God and assured the king that God would restore the borders of the land. Jonah, in his lifetime, assured the nation that others would not infringe on their territory. But the story of Jonah is actually the story of God caring about other nations and opposing the pride of Israel—all through the same mopey, reluctant prophet.