Tag Archives: Jonah

Jonah (7 of 7) God’s Final Lessons For Jonah

4:6-11 God’s Final Lessons For Jonah

Memory Verse: Jonah 4:10-11

4:6-8 God’s Plan To Get Jonah’s Attention

  • 4:1-5 After God graciously ceased from causing Nineveh to be overthrown of the calamity that He had said that He would do unto them as judgement for their sin, Jonah became exceedingly displeased and very angry. Jonah understood that God was willing to give the Ninevites a second chance, but Jonah himself wasn’t. The Lord questions Jonah, but there is no recorded answer. Instead Jonah responds to the city wide revival with isolation, inactivity, false hope and folly.
  • 4:6 But God still wasn’t done with Jonah. There was still a lesson that Jonah needed to learn. The Lord often uses different agents to help teach us the lessons that we need to learn. God has already used a storm and a great fish to teach Jonah some important lessons. Now the Lord God prepares a gourd, a worm and a vehement east wind to teach Jonah another lesson. First, God prepares the gourd and made it to come up over Jonah to make a shadow over his head and deliver him from his grief (apparently his home-made booth was insufficient). At first glance, it seems that God has ignored Jonah’s rebellious spirit and has chosen to show grace to Jonah. And indeed He has. But God is using this grace to teach Jonah an important lesson that he has stubbornly refused to accept. In the meantime, Jonah was exceeding glad because of the gourd. There is a great paradox here: Jonah is angry that God showed mercy to Nineveh, sparring a whole city from destruction, but he is really happy that he has a comfortable place to rest in the shade. Maybe Jonah thought that this was a sign from God that he was doing something right—because from his perspective it seemed God was blessing him at that moment.
    Jonah 1:4, 17; 4:6-8
  • 4:7 But when the morning rose the next day, God prepared a worm to smite or destroy the gourd so that it withered—it could no longer be used as shade over Jonah’s head to deliver him from his grief. Jonah’s exceeding joy and thoughts of God’s blessings has quickly fled away as he sits there—still on strike against God hoping that God wouldn’t relent His decision to destroy the city. Was Jonah’s joy misplaced? Yes, his focus wasn’t on spiritual things, but on physical things.
  • 4:8 Next, when the sun rose, God prepared a vehement east wind—a type of hot wind that intensifies the temperature, making it hotter than normal. The sun also beat upon Jonah’s head. Jonah fainted—probably from heatstroke or sunstroke. He was miserable. Jonah being emotionally unstable and unwilling to repent, again wishes to die for the third time—telling himself that it is better for him to die than to live. Jonah has made this desperate and selfish notion twice before. When he fled from God the first time, he almost came to the point of death, asking the sailers to throw him overboard, but God saved his life. The second time was after God showed mercy to Nineveh and he plead with God to take his life from him, also saying that it is better for him to die than to live. God still hasn’t given up on Jonah, but Jonah’s rebellion and unwillingness to repent has caused himself much pain and grief in this life.
    Jonah 1:12; 4:3

4:9-11 God Questions Jonah Again

  • 4:9a The Lord again questions Jonah with a single question, saying: “Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd?” This is similar to the Lord’s previous question: “Doest thou well to be angry?” but this time He puts the focus on the gourd. Apparently, Jonah is angry about what has happened concerning the gourd—therefore God is asking him if he is right to feel this way about it. He is holding Jonah accountable for his emotions and feelings. Jonah has exemplified what a person looks like who is controlled by the way he feels in the moment instead of choosing to allow the truth to control his emotional state—we should not allow our feelings to dictate our lives.
    Jonah 4:4
  • 4:9b Last time Jonah was asked a question by God there was no recorded answer. But this time, Jonah answers God and tells Him, “I do well to be angry, even unto death.” Jonah plainly tells God that he is angry about what happened to the gourd and that he is angry enough to die.
  • 4:10 The Lord responds to Jonah and tries to teach him a lesson. Jonah had pity—to feel bad about the circumstances—on the gourd, but he did not labour for it or do anything to make it grow. It came up in a night, then it perished in a night. It should have been obvious to Jonah that this plant supernaturally grew to be able to be big enough in one day to provide shade for him. He also knew that he didn’t water it or do anything to care for it, he just simply enjoyed the benefits of it. God was the creator of the plant and he is the one who gives and takes away. God doesn’t rebuke Jonah for having pity on the plant, but he points out the problem in the next verse by asking another question
  • 4:11 After pointing out that Jonah had pity on the gourd, the Lord ask Jonah a final question, “And should not I spare Nineveh?” God points out the hypocrisy to Jonah that if a gourd has value, then how much more does the city of Nineveh. If Jonah can have pity on a plant that he did nothing for, then why can’t the Lord have pity on people whom He created. The Lord goes on to describe Nineveh as a great city with a population more than 120,000 people (sixscore thousand persons) who can’t “discern between their right hand and their left hand”—which has two possible understandings: (1) it refers to the population of children since they don’t know how to make decisions and thus the total population is greater or (2) it refers to the pollution of the city but says the people are spiritually and morally ignorant. Either way, it is a great number of people. At the last, God mentions that the city also has much cattle—probably pointing out to Jonah that God could have mercy on Nineveh for the sake of the animals, which would still be better than having compassion on a plant.
    Matthew 16:26
  • Jonah doesn’t not respond to the Lord’s final question but instead the book ends. We can speculate that Jonah finally understood the lesson that God was teaching him because he recorded his own story for others to read. If he didn’t learn the lesson then why would he write down this embarrassing experience for others to read? Therefore, this book itself is the answer to the question.
  • The book also ends with the question unanswered possibly as a way to emphasize to future readers that the question is being asked of them. What is your answer?

Review Questions

  • What does God use to get Jonah’s attention this time?
  • How does Jonah respond?
  • What is Jonah’s hypocrisy?
  • What is the emphasis of God’s question to Jonah?
  • What are lessons we learn from the book of Jonah?

Jonah (6 of 7) God Questions Jonah’s Emotional Reaction

4:1-5 God Questions Jonah’s Emotional Reaction

Memory Verse: Jonah 4:2

4:1-3 Jonah’s Response To God’s Mercy

  • 3:1-10 God wasn’t finished with Jonah. He was willing to give him a second chance—the word of the Lord came unto Jonah a second time. This time he obeyed, went to Nineveh and when he was “a day’s journey” into the city he cried against the city saying, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” God was offering mercy and hope if they turned from their wickedness and turned to Him. This is exactly what the people of Nineveh did. Therefore, God graciously ceased from causing their city to be overthrown of the calamity—great loss and misfortune—that He had said that He would do unto them as judgement for their sin.
  • 4:1 In response to God showing mercy on the Ninevites, Jonah became exceedingly displeased and very angry. This seems like a strange response to God’s mercy. God has turned away his wrath from an evil people because they repented and Jonah turns his wrath against God because he was merciful to them. Jonah is living according to his emotions. As he tells us in the next verse, his own thinking and logic didn’t align with God’s, therefore he chose to do his own thing. He let his emotions rather than his command from God control his will. Then through divinely orchestrated events, he repents and his joy is restored. He starts serving God again. Finally, his emotions stir back up and he decides to follow them over God. His joy is lost again. Anger and discontentment sets back in. Have you ever been angry with God? Has your own thinking and logic not been in align with God’s? Have you been running from God’s will because you don’t agree with God on something? Have you been trying to avoid what God wants? Are you letting your emotions control you? Are you living in the joy of God’s will?
  • 4:2 Why?—This is the question on everyone’s mind. Why did Jonah at first decided to disobey God and flee from His presence? Why was he so angry when God showed mercy to the Ninevites? Jonah finally tells us. Instead of running from God this time, he takes his complaint to the Lord through prayer. He prays to the Lord saying that when he was still in his country and the word of the Lord came to him the first time, that this was his “saying” or reason for fleeing—referring to what God has just done—shown mercy. He goes on to explain that he fled to Tarshish because he knew that God was: (1) gracious—inclined to show favor and blessing; (2) merciful—having and showing compassion; (3) slow to anger—having and showing patience; (4) great kindness—having and showing favorable regard to a large extent; (5) repentest thee of the evil—graciously relenting or ceasing from causing great misfortune. Jonah understood that God was willing to give the Ninevites a second chance, but Jonah himself wasn’t. The Ninevites were not Jews, therefore it seems that he didn’t want them to be saved.
    Joel 2:13; Nehemiah 9:17
  • Why did Jonah hate the Ninevites? We aren’t told why Jonah hated the Ninevites so much but there are several areas of speculation. It could have been because of nationalism, prejudices or racism against the gentile people. He could have misunderstood God’s love for all people. He could have saw the Ninevites as the enemy—thinking they should be destroyed so they wouldn’t be a force against them in the future. Maybe he was worried about his personal reputation as a prophet who proclaimed the downfall of the city—therefore he was desirous for it to come true. Maybe it was a misunderstanding of grace. Either way, his views were contrary to God and God’s character, which led to disobedience.
  • God loves everyone. He is not willing that any should perish. He desires for all to know the truth and to be saved. As believers, the Bible says to go: to “all nations,” to “all the world,” “among all nations,” and “in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” We can conclude that God wants us to make disciples of all people of every nation, country and people group.
    John 3:16; 1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9; Matthew 28:18; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47; Acts 1:8
  • God extends His love to His stubborn prophet. God didn’t give up on Jonah but gave him another chance. Jonah clearly disobeyed God because he disagreed with the character of God—but it is this character that gave Jonah another chance. The same grace that was offered to unworthy Nineveh was offered to unworthy Jonah.
  • 4:3 In a final plea of desperation and selfishness, Jonah pleads with God to take his life from him, saying that it is better for him to die than to live. When he fled from God the first time, he almost came to the point of death—asking the sailers to throw him overboard, but God saved his life. Now he changes his mind again and asks God to kill him—wanting to break his vow a second time. His request is controlled by his irrational emotions and feelings and turns into a protest against the will of God.
    Jonah 1:12; 2:6-7, 9

4:4-5 God’s Response To Jonah’s Prejudice

  • 4:4 The Lord questions Jonah with this single question: “Doest thou well to be angry?” God is basically asking Jonah if he is right to feel the way that he is feeling. This questions points out that we are responsible and accountable for not just our actions but also our emotions or feelings and how we respond to them. Maybe the question could be asked another way, “If you are right Jonah, do you think that I am wrong?” As believers, we are not to be controlled by our emotions and thoughts, but instead we control our emotions, thoughts and reactions to them through the power of the Holy Spirit. When God calls your emotions into accountability, what is your response?
  • 4:5 There is no recorded answer from Jonah to God’s question—but what answer could Jonah have? He knew he was wrong. Next, Jonah leaves the city and sits on the East side of the city. There he made a booth (a makeshift dwelling like a tent) for himself to sit under its shadow. He was going to sit there to see what would happen to the city.
  • Jonah responds to the city wide revival with isolation and inactivity. His disappointment with God has led him to distance himself from God’s blessings in the city and he chose to pout about it alone instead of seizing the opportunity to teach the new believers.
  • Jonah responds to the city wide revival with false hope and folly—possibly believing that God will still destroy the city. Jonah lacks good sense. He ignores God’s question and actions and seems that he goes on strike against God hoping that God wouldn’t really relent His decision to destroy the city.

Review Questions

  • What was Jonah’s response to God showing mercy on the Ninevites?
  • Why did Jonah run from God the first time?
  • What was Jonah’s plea to God?
  • What was God’s question to Jonah?
  • What was Jonah’s response in response to the city wide revival?

Jonah (5 of 7) God Gives Second Chances

3:1-10 God Gives Second Chances

Memory Verse: Jonah 3:5

3:1-4 God Gives Jonah A Second Chance

  • 2:10, 3:1 Jonah was just vomited out on dry land after spending three days and nights in the belly of a great fish. His experience was horrific, but it caused him to repent of his disobedience to God and trying to flee from His presence. Jonah’s disobedience was great, but God’s forgiveness was greater. God wasn’t finished with Jonah. He was willing to give him a second chance—the word of the Lord came unto Jonah a second time.
  • 3:2 The first time the word of the Lord came unto Jonah, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.” The second time it said, “Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.” The command is the same. God has a message for Nineveh and He wanted to use His prophet Jonah to deliver it to them. God could have chosen someone else to deliver this message, but He had a plan for Jonah’s life and wasn’t willing to throw him away after he failed the first time. God still wanted him to stand face to face with the inhabitants of the city and deliver the message in person. Application: Have you failed God? God has not chosen the mighty things of this world but the weak—therefore He is willing to give you a second chance.
    Matthew 9:36; 11:28; 12:20; 1 Corinthians 1:26-29
  • 3:3a The first time Jonah received God’s command he rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord, but the second time Jonah arose and went unto Nineveh. Maybe God is offering you a second chance today. You have a decision to make. Will you choose to obey God’s plan for your life? God wants your obedience, He wants your faith.
  • 3:3b The city that Jonah was to preach to didn’t change. He was still to go to Nineveh. Nineveh was a great city in most of the areas that a person would judge a city’s greatness (size, population, military, power). This was an exceeding great city of three days’ journey—probably meaning the time it takes to travel through the city or to visit all the different parts of the city. But God also considered it’s wickedness to be great, telling Jonah, their wickedness is come up before Him. This city’s sin was so great that God has taken notice and He is ready to do something about it. Nothing about the city or its circumstances has changed—the only thing that has changed is Jonah—he had fled from the presence of the Lord and approach death only to repent and turn back to God in obedience.
    Jonah 1:2; 3:2
  • 3:4 Jonah arrived and entered Nineveh. When he was “a day’s journey” into the city he cried against the city saying, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” It was a short eight-word sermon. It must have been obvious that Jonah was a prophet from God or that more questions were asked once he made this public proclamation of pending judgment. God was willing to give the Ninevites forty days to repent of their sin or their great city would be overthrown—experience downfall. Jonah accomplished his mission.

3:5-10 God Gives Nineveh A Second Chance

  • 3:5 God was offering mercy and hope to Nineveh if they turned from their wickedness and turned to Him. This is exactly what the people of Nineveh did. They believed God—they turned to God, putting their trust in Him. At the same time, they turned away from their wickedness as indicated by proclaiming a fast and putting on sackcloth—both outwards expressions of inward repentance. Everyone, from the greatest of them to the least of them, repented and believed in God. God gave Nineveh a second chance.
  • 3:6 The word—the situation taking place in the city—came unto the king of Nineveh. After hearing the message and response of the people, the king himself arose from his throne, laid his robe from him, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes. For any person, but especially a king, this was a great sign of humility and repentance. He went from the throne to ashes, from a robe to sackcloth—he was willingly to see himself for who he really was (a sinner) and turn to God with a heart of repentance.
  • 3:7-9 The king was so moved by the message and probably the response of the people that he caused the following to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by his decree and that of his nobles: (1) Fasting—no man or animal was to eat or drink. This was a time of grieving, not celebration—they only had forty days. (2) Sackcloth—every man and animal was to be covered with sackcloth—this was a sign of grieving and repentance. (3) Confession—each person was to cry mightily unto God—outward actions weren’t enough, but they were to be a sign of the true inward confession taking place. Each person was to confess their sin and the sin of their city to God. (4) Repentance—each and every person was to turn from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. (5) Hope—there was hope that if they turned from their wickedness to God that God would turn and graciously cease from causing their city to be overthrown, turning away from His fierce anger so that they wouldn’t perish.
  • Confession and Repentance—renouncing your former way of life (sin, pride, self-righteousness, etc.) and turning to a new way of life that is only found in God. Just likes the Ninevites confessed and repented of their sin, today we are to also confess and repent of our sins. Their outward actions (fasting, sackcloth) didn’t save them, but it represented their change of mind, heart and life based on the understanding of truth.
    2 Corinthians 7:9-10; Luke 5:32;13:3; Psalm 51; Jeremiah 14:20
  • Hope and Faith—trusting in God to save you. Just likes the Ninevites placed their faith and hope in God for mercy, today we trust that Jesus’ death and resurrection are sufficient to forgive our sins. This is more than intellectual assent of the facts about Jesus, but you are basing your salvation on them.
    Acts 16:31; 20:21; Romans 3:22, 25, 28; 10:9-11, 17; James 2:19; Matthew 8:29
  • Perish—the Ninevites didn’t know if God would hear their confessions or see their faith, but they were hoping that He would so that they wouldn’t perish. Today, we don’t have to worry like the Ninevites did, because God has already promised that anyone who repents of their sin and places their faith in Jesus as Lord and Saviour would not perish, but have everlasting life.
    John 3:16
  • 3:10 Finally, God saw their works—that they turned from their evil way through faith. God graciously ceased from causing their city to be overthrown of the calamity—great loss and misfortune—that He had said that He would do unto them as judgement for their sin. Today, God is offering you another chance to trust and obey Him.

Review Questions

  • What came to Jonah the second time?
  • What was Jonah’s response the second time?
  • Did Jonah accomplish his mission?
  • What was the second chance offered to the Ninevites?
  • What was the Ninevites response to their second chance?

Jonah (4 of 7) Jonah In The Belly Of The Whale

2:1-10 Jonah In The Belly Of The Whale

Memory Verse: Jonah 2:9

2:1-7 God Gets Jonah’s Attention

  • 1:1-17 Jonah was a prophet of the God of heaven. He received a commission from God to immediately leave his home and go to Nineveh and cry against it—because their wickedness had come before the Lord. Jonah disobeys God and tries to flee from the presence of the Lord on a boat going the opposite direction. Then God sent a storm. The sailors were helpless in the middle of the storm. Jonah finally confessed to the sailors that the storm was because of his sin against God. He tells them to throw him overboard. Reluctantly, and fearfully, they throw Jonah over board. The Lord prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. Jonah would be in the fish’s belly for three days and three nights.
  • 2:1 Jonah finds himself in the belly of a great fish. We don’t know what type of “great fish” this is. But we do know this story is literal truth and not just an allegory. This was a great fish that was directed by God who made it possible for Jonah to be able to survive in its belly for three days and three nights. When Jonah told the others to cast him overboard, he didn’t know what was going to happen and I image he was expecting death. But he didn’t die. God rescued him in the most unusual way. To Jonah it would seem he was in a worse situation than when he was in the storm on the boat. He is now in an awful, dark, wet, uncomfortable, constricted, hellish place. He can no longer ignore his predicament by sleeping it away. God has Jonah’s attention and from the great fish’s belly Jonah prays unto the Lord his God—Jonah never reject God as Lord, but was running from His will for his life. Is God using your circumstances to get your attention? Do you need to pray?

2:1-7 Jonah Prays To God

  • 2:2 Jonah finally cries out to God and God hears him. Jonah’s affliction—all that he has gone through—from the storm to being thrown overboard and swallowed by a great fish—has caused him to turn back to God. Jonah’s situation continued to get worse. He ran from God boarding a ship going the opposite way of God’s will. He tried to hide and sleep in the bowels of the ship. He was discovered and thrown overboard by the others on the boat. Then a great fish swallowed him and now he is in “the belly of hell”—which is a hyperbolic meaning of being in the fish’s belly, an awful place, and being close to death. It is from here that he cried out to God and God heard Jonah’s voice. It doesn’t matter how far you have run from God or what your circumstances are, you can cry out to Him and He will hear you. Prayer can be made anywhere and at anytime.
    Psalms 18:5-6; 28:1-2; 120:1; 130:1-2
  • 2:3 Jonah recognizes God’s sovereign judgement in the events that have led up to where he is. He describes his experience in the water and recognizes God’s hand in it. It was God who allowed him to be cast “into the deep, in the midst of the seas”. It was God who allowed the “floods” to surround him. It was all God’s billows and waves that passed over Jonah. Maybe like Jonah, you feel you are drowning, but are the waters being controlled by the hand of God? Are you recognizing God in the midst of your troubles?
    Psalms 42:7; 88:6-7
  • 2:4 In the midst of the ocean, Jonah thought that he was cast out of God’s sight. He knew he did wrong and he thought drowning in the ocean was his final judgement for rebelling against God’s will for his life. But thoughts of doom were quickly replaced with thoughts of faith—that is Jonah decided in the midst of his judgement to look again toward God’s holy temple. The temple represented God’s presence among His people and the place of atonement. Jonah was ready to repent and turn his attention or direct his hope back towards God. The temple was a “type” of Jesus. Today, we don’t turn to the temple but to Jesus, who is God and who is our atonement. If you are wanting to turn from despair back to hope, then you need to look again to Jesus—the author and finisher of our faith.
    Psalms 18:6; 28:2; 31:22; Hebrews 12:1-2
  • 2:5-6 Jonah again describes his hopeless situation. After he was cast overboard, the waters closed in over him, even to the soul—meaning almost to the point of death. The depth surrounded him as he sunk deeper into the waters. Seaweed started to wrap around his head. He was down at the bottoms of the mountains—the bottom of the sea. To Jonah he felt the earth had her bars around him forever—there was no way to return to dry land but he was held prisoner at the bottom of the sea. Jonah was in a hopeless situation. But God decided to rescue Jonah. He brought up his life from corruption. Jonah didn’t deserve to be rescued, but God had mercy. Jonah returns to the Lord his God.
    Psalms 18:5, 15; 30:3; 69:1-2
  • 2:7 Jonah was completely overwhelmed. When his soul fainted within him—both physically and spiritually exhausted—Jonah remembered the Lord. Jonah’s prayer came in unto God, into His holy temple. God heard Jonah and answered his prayer. Are you both physically and spiritually exhausted from running from God’s will for your life? Cry out to God. It is not too late. He will hear you.
    Psalms 11:4; 18:6; 142:3; 143:4

2:8-10 Jonah’s Pivotal Turning Point

  • 2:8 Jonah finally comes to a conclusion and summarizes what he has been taught through this experience. He first states those who “observe lying vanities” or those who worship false idols (like the sailers) “forsake their own mercy”—meaning that clinging to anything apart from the true God is to forsake the only One who can show you true mercy.
    Psalms 31:6
  • 2:9 He then contrasts that with himself, saying that: (1) He will sacrifice unto the true God with the voice of thanksgiving—Jonah would cling to God and His mercy with the heart of thanksgiving instead of the rebellious attitude that he had. (2) He will pay that which he has vowed—Jonah was ready to serve again. (3) Salvation is of the Lord—Jonah concluded that true salvation comes from the sovereign true God—this is what He does and to be against it is to be against God. This is one of the main points of this book: people are perishing (the Ninevites, the sailors, Jonah) but God can and will save.
    Psalms 3:8; 42:5; 50:14; 66:13-14; 118:14, 21
  • 2:10 Finally, Jonah by the chastening hand of a loving God learned his lesson and turned back to God. God then spoke to the fish and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land. Jonah was broken, humbled, but given a second chance. Maybe you are like Jonah. God has been breaking you of your pride and sin. Maybe you feel you are at the bottom of the ocean or in “the belly of hell”. Today, you have a chance to turn to the Lord of Salvation.

Review Questions

  • How did God get Jonah’s attention?
  • What did Jonah do in response?
  • Why did it seem that Jonah’s situation was hopeless?
  • What was Jonah’s conclusion?
  • What happened to Jonah at the end?

Jonah (3 of 7) Jonah’s Sin And Consequence Are Revealed

1:7-17 Jonah’s Sin And Consequence Are Revealed

Memory Verse: Jonah 1:9

1:7-10 Jonah’s Sin Was Found Out

  • 1:1-6 Jonah was a prophet of the God of heaven. He received a commission from God to immediately leave his home and go to Nineveh and cry against it—because their wickedness had come before the Lord. Jonah obeys the command to “arise and go” but he didn’t head towards Nineveh. Jonah was trying to flee from the presence of the Lord. God cared for Jonah and thus sent a storm. It is in the midst of this storm that we continue on in the story.
  • 1:7 Everything the sailors have done so far hasn’t worked. They have prayed to their false gods, they have cast cargo overboard to make the ship lighter and the captain has even asked Jonah to pray to His God (although he didn’t). So they tried something new. They said to each other “Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us.” What is casting lots? The Bible is unclear on defining the exact procedure of doing this, but it seems to be when you would cast down some kind of small object to make a decision by random outcome or for deciding the will of God. Proverbs even says that God’s decision can be revealed this way. So the crew cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah. We can’t always hide from God. Our sin will be found out. What are you hiding?
    Proverbs 16:33
  • 1:8-9 Once the lot fell on Jonah, the crew took that as a sign that Jonah had answers to why this storm was upon them. Then they started to ask him several questions: Who is the reason that this evil is upon us? What is your occupation? Where do you come from? What is your country? What people are you?—Jonah starts with this last question answering, “I am a Hebrew.” He follows this up with “I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land.” Jonah is running from the will of God, but he doesn’t deny that He is still a worshipper of God. He hasn’t completely turned away from God. He still confesses Him as Lord. And to answer the sailers questions, he states that his God is that One who made the sea and the land—meaning He made everything. He probably says, “Sea” first to emphasize their current situation and then said, “Land” second because that is where everyone wishes they were, but together it not only means “everything” but also means that Jonah’s God has the answers to their problems.
  • 1:10 Jonah came clean and told them everything that he had done and how he had fled from the presence of the Lord. The men were exceedingly afraid. They asked a simple question of fear and astonishment, “Why hast thou done this?” After understanding who the true God was and seeing the fierce storm that He can bring upon them, they must have thought Jonah was crazy for trying to run from Him. Maybe the question was rhetorical or maybe they wanted to know what kind of motivation would drive a person to make such a reckless decision. Either way, Jonah’s sin has found him out.

1:11-17 Jonah’s Sin Has Consequences

  • 1:11-12 Now the sailers wanted to know what to do. They ask Jonah, “What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous.” If Jonah caused the problem then they wanted him to also give them the answer. Jonah, even though He was rebelling, was still a prophet and He knew what should be done. He had a decision to make. Jonah sort of makes the right decision. He confesses his sin saying, “I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you.” So to fix the problem he tells the sailers to pick him up and throw him into the sea. If they did this then the sea would be calm for them. Personal application: Each of us has decisions to make too. When we sin, we can choose to take personal responsibility for it and its consequences, otherwise the consequences of our rebellion might continue to affect those around us.
  • 1:13 This has to be a hard request. Jonah just got done telling them he was a Prophet of the true God and now he requested that they throw Him overboard into storm—which would almost certainly mean death. But couldn’t Jonah just of jumped overboard? Could he of asked them to sail towards Nineveh instead? The Bible doesn’t answer these question, but it seems that Jonah was prepared to die more than do God’s will—although he wasn’t willing to take his own life. The men try to ignore this advice and try to row hard to bring the ship to the land. But they failed. They could not save themselves. The sea continued to increase the strength of the storm and it was against them. God who sent the storm was sending a clear signal that there was only one option: their lives depended on Jonah’s apparent death.
  • Jesus is superior to Jonah. Jesus never sinned. Jesus was called to fulfill God’s will and He did. Jesus was on a boat in the middle of a storm as well. He was also sleeping, but it was because not even the greatest of storms bothers Jesus. The men aboard His boat were also scared, but Jesus arose from where He was laying and rebukes the winds and the sea. The great storm was instantly turned into a great calm. Jesus did what Jonah, a prophet, couldn’t do.
    Matthew 8:23-27
  • Jonah’s story is also an example of Jesus death. Just like the sailers lives depended on the death of Jonah, our lives depend on the death of Jesus. Salvation comes through a substitutionary death. Here Jonah would be thrown overboard for his own sin, but Jesus was nailed to the cross for our sin. There is no other way. Just like the sailors tried to row to shore in the storm but failed, so will all of our human efforts fail at saving ourselves. Believe in Jesus today and be saved.
  • 1:14-16 Finally, the sailers gave up. They realized that they cannot save themselves. They are fearful of throwing Jonah overboard. They believe he will die. Therefore, they cried out to God and asked forgiveness before they even did it, saying, “Let us not perish for this man’s life, and lay not upon us innocent blood.” Also, they are acting according to what they believe is the will of God, saying, “For thou, O Lord, hast done as it pleased thee.” So, by faith, they picked up Jonah and cast him out into the sea. The sea ceased from her raging. The men who have experience this whole thing feared the Lord exceedingly. It was without a doubt who the true God was. Jonah must have told them more than what is record here because the men offered a sacrifice unto the Lord and made vows. These men who received witness from Jonah seemed to have been converted.
  • 1:17 But God wasn’t done with Jonah. He prepared a great fish and it swallow him. Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. God is working on him.

Review Questions

  • What is casting lots?
  • Who did the lot fall on?
  • Did Jonah confess his sins?
  • What was the answer to the problem?
  • What happened to the sailors by the end of the story?

Jonah (2 of 7) Jonah In The Midst Of The Storm

1:4-6 Jonah In The Midst Of The Storm

Memory Verse: Jonah 1:4

1:4 When We Disobey, Sometimes God Will Send A Storm

  • 1:1-3 Jonah was a prophet of the God of heaven. He received a commission from God to immediately leave his home and go to Nineveh and cry against it—because their wickedness had come before the Lord. This was a city actively sinning against God and God was going to give them one last chance to repent or else He would bring judgement upon the city. Jonah obeys the command to “arise and go” but he didn’t head towards Nineveh. First, he goes down to the costal city of Joppa. There he found a ship going to Tarshish, paid the fare to board the ship and then got on and headed towards Tarshish. Tarshish is the complete opposite direction of Nineveh—the direction he should have been heading. Jonah was trying to flee from the presence of the Lord.
  • 1:4 What does God do when His servants disobey him? Does God care if we are disobedient to His will? Yes, as we will see in the life of Jonah, God does care. God doesn’t just cast Jonah to the side and find another prophet to use. God goes after His man. He hurls out a great wind into the sea. This caused there to be a mighty tempest in the sea. This was a “divine-storm”. The storm and waves were so great that it was threatening to break the ship that Jonah was on. What we need to notice is that it was God who caused the storm. God was trying to get Jonah’s attention.
  • God is a loving father, therefore He chastens His children (believers) if they are unrepentant concerning their sin or for disobeying His will. This isn’t a joyous time in their lives, but God does it for their profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness. God wants us to live holy lives, and lives fully given over to Him.
    Hebrews 12:7-13; Proverbs 3:11-12
  • God will never take away our salvation because we have sinned or disobeyed. Believers can and will disobey God, but will not be condemned for this disobedience.
    Romans 8:1
  • God works everything for our good. If you are a believer, then you can rest assured that God is working everything for your good, even if you can’t see it. If you are in the middle of the storm, like Jonah, know that God is going to use it for your good.
    Romans 8:28

1:5 When We Disobey, Sometimes It Affects Those Around Us

  • 1:5a God sent the storm because of Jonah’s disobedience, but the storm also affected the people around him. Those people were the mariners. They became afraid. These men most likely were experienced sailors, but the storm seemed to be something greater than what they were used to. These men were not worshippers of the God of heaven, so they didn’t cry out to the God of heaven, but instead tried to overcome this divine-storm through two methods: (1) They cried unto their false gods—they were religious men who thought their different gods could deliver them. Their cries fell open the ears of nonexistent gods. They will eventually learn that no other God is like the true God. (2) They took the cargo (wares) that were in the ship and cast it into the sea to lighten the ship. This was done so the ship could ride over the waves instead of sinking into them. But even this couldn’t save them from the storm. The mariners were caught right in the middle of Jonah’s storm. His disobedience and the following chastening was affecting not only Jonah but also those who were around him.
  • 1:5b Where was Jonah? He had gone down into the sides of the ship to lay down and sleep. When this storm was raging and the mariners were fearfully crying out to their false gods and throwing cargo over board, Jonah was fast asleep. I can only image that Jonah was trying to ignore his predicament by sleeping it away. He wanted to escape the guilt.
  • Do your realize that your sin affects those around you? Do you realize that God loves you and He won’t let you run away, He will come after you, to restore you. Are you running from the will of God?
  • Are you in the inner part of the ship trying to sleep away the guilt of disobeying God’s will? Are you trying to escape His will? Are you trying to ignore it? God doesn’t give up.

1:6 When We Disobey, Sometimes We Have A Chance To Repent

  • 1:6a Everything the mariners were doing was failing. Their gods were not saving them. Throwing the cargo overboard was not working. So the shipmaster goes to find Jonah. He must have realized he was not doing anything to help. He finds him down in the inner chamber sleeping. So when the shipmaster finds him, he says to him, “What meanest thou, O sleeper?” The shipmaster most likely didn’t know about Jonah’s situation. He didn’t realize he was running from the God of heaven. He was confused at “why” and “how” Jonah could sleep in the middle of the storm. It wasn’t because Jonah had a great peace, but because he was trying to ignore God’s chastisement.
  • 1:6b Next, the shipmaster tells Jonah to “Arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not.” It wasn’t that the shipmaster necessarily knew that Jonah served the true God, but that they were willing to call upon any god that they thought would help. He was fearful of loosing his life and the lives of the passengers and crew. The shipmaster’s command to Jonah could have brought several thoughts into Jonah’s mind and also into our minds, such as: (1) Grace—God is giving Jonah a chance to repent. Jonah knew the reason for the storm. God is using the unbelieving shipmaster to remind Jonah that God’s grace is still available to him. God could have destroyed Jonah and everyone on the boat, but He is offering grace instead. (2) Repentance—Jonah couldn’t pray to God for deliverance with unrepentant sin in his life. He knew that seeking God for help would also mean repenting of his disobedience. Was he willing to do that? (3) Mission—He has to reconsider the mission God gave him and ask if he is now willing to obey it. Application: All mankind has sinned against God and He could have destroyed us but He offered grace instead through giving His own Son Jesus to die in our place on the cross. Because of God’s grace we have a chance of salvation (like the unbelieving sailors—faced with immediate and eternal death) and restoration (like Jonah—face with restoring his fellowship with God). Is God speaking to your today? If so, repent.
    Romans 8:32

Review Questions

  • When we disobey God, does He care?
  • How are we to view God’s chastisement?
  • When we disobey who does it affect?
  • When we disobey we sometimes have a chance to repent?
  • What were some thoughts we can take away from when the captain talked to Jonah?

Jonah (1 of 7) Jonah: The Prophet, Commission And Disobedience

1:1-3 Jonah: The Prophet, Commission And Disobedience

Memory Verse: Jonah 1:2

1:1 Jonah, The Prophet Of The God Of Heaven

  • 1:1a Jonah was the son of Amittai. He was an Israelite. He was a prophet. A prophet is a person who is called to be “God’s man” because God has chosen him out to be a special messenger for Him among mankind. We know from the record in 2 Kings that Jonah was an active prophet during the reign of King Jeroboam the second—the king of Israel at the time. Israel had been sinning against God at this time through idolatry and immorality, but in spite of it, God used Jonah to delivered an encouraging message of expansion and prosperity. Their borders were going to be restored. Over time the prophecy came true. Jonah became an established prophet among his people whom he loved.
    2 Kings 14:23-27
  • 1:1b As a prophet, Jonah receives messages from God and delivers messages for God. Of course God can use any type of means that He wants to get His message out, but He has chosen to use men. The book of Jonah opens with the phrase “Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah…,” but how does this work? We aren’t told here if Jonah heard an audible voice, or how it exactly came. But we know from the New Testament that the prophecy didn’t come by Jonah’s will, but God’s holy man, Jonah, was moved by the Holy Ghost. After receiving the message, he was to deliver it accordingly.
    2 Peter 1:21
  • Today, we don’t have prophets like we did in the Old Testament who receives messages directly from God and delivers messages for God. But we do have the direct revelation of God recorded in the Bible. All believers are commanded to take the teachings of the Bible and give it to world. But God still calls out men to be “God’s man” and serve Him in a similar role as a prophet. They are called to give special attention and study of the Bible—taking its truths and teaching them to God’s people and the heathen world.
  • Today, the call of such a man is not God orally telling him what to do, but it is acknowledging and submitting to the gifts that He has enabled him with. Certain men will have an inclination to give their life to God for full-time service. But how can they know for sure? They can recognize “the call” through the following steps: desire, ability, lifestyle and confirmation.
    1 Timothy 3:1; Philippians 2:13; Ephesians 4:11-12; 1 Peter 1:15-16; Acts 16:1-2

1:2 God’s Commission For His Prophet

  • 1:2a The first word to Jonah is “Arise”. God had a task for Jonah and He wanted him to stand to his feet and get ready for the task. It also points to a sense of urgency.
  • 1:2b Next, God tells him to “go to Nineveh, that great city”. This was a city that was about 600 miles away from Jonah’s home. Jonah couldn’t just deliver the message through a letter or pass the message along. God wanted him to stand face to face with the inhabitants of the city and deliver it in person. Jonah had to “go”—to move away from the place he was and head in the direction of Nineveh. Nineveh was a great city in most of the areas that a person would judge a city’s greatness (size, population, military, power). But God also considered its wickedness to be great, telling Jonah, “For their wickedness is come up before God.” This city’s sin was so great that God has taken notice and He is ready to do something about it. We aren’t told much about their sin, which might be deliberate sin against God or they might be sinning out of ignorance, either way, they are in opposition against the God of heaven.
    Jonah 1:2; 3:2; 3:3
  • 1:2c Finally, when he arrived he was supposed to “cry against it.” God wants this wicked city to hear His message. Jonah was being called by God to go to the city of Nineveh to formally and authoritatively proclaim against their sin. But God doesn’t just want a message of doom to be proclaimed, but a message of hope. Even though this city has great wickedness and has sinned against God, God wasn’t going to destroy it without an opportunity to let them repent. He could destroy the city without delivering a message, thus God sending a messenger is a loving and kind act on the behalf of God to allow men to turn from their evil ways. God is merciful and longsuffering.
  • Today, believers have a similar urgent task. Paul tells us to “awake” and Jesus told us to “go.” As believers, we are to stop sinning and start living righteous lives so that we can obey Jesus’ command to reach a world that does not have the knowledge of God.
    1 Corinthians 15:34; Matthew 28:19
  • Today, God is still calling men out to serve Him. Every believer should be involved in taking the gospel to the world, but some will be set apart for doing it as full-time service. Some men will be specifically called out to arise and proclaim the Word.

1:3 Jonah’s Disobedience And Foolish Actions

  • 1:3a What happens next is probably a shock for most people who read it for the first time. We expect that a prophet would always be obedient to what God has told him to do. But they are also sinful humans, who also have a choice to obey or disobey. Jonah obeys the command to “arise and go” but he didn’t head towards Nineveh, instead he sets out for Tarshish—trying to flee from the presence of the Lord. He didn’t argue with God or try to make up a reason why he didn’t want to do this, he simply ran away from God. Can anyone really run from God? No. But he wasn’t thinking about and meditating on the truth that He knew and what the Bible taught, He was just focused on disobedience and these thoughts of sin distorted the truth He knew. How often does this happen to us? Are you running from what God wants you to do?
    Psalm 139:1-24
  • 1:3b Jonah’s home is in Gath-hepher (we are assuming he was there during this time). He leaves home and starts his fleeing by first going down to the costal city of Joppa. There he found a ship going to Tarshish, paid the fare to board the ship and then got on and headed towards Tarshish. Tarshish is the complete opposite direction of Nineveh, the direction he should have been heading. Nineveh was east of his hometown and Tarshish was west. This command just became personal, and God will have to do some work in the life of his prophet. Does God need to do some work in your life? Are your running from God? Where or what is your Tarshish—meaning that thing (a job, a degree, a location, a relationship) in your life that is leading you in the opposite direction of God’s will for you?

Review Questions

  • What is a prophet?
  • Today, is God still looking for men to serve Him?
  • What was God’s message to Jonah?
  • Today, what similar command do we have from God?
  • What was Jonah’s response? What is your response?