BOOK OF JONAH
You may think
of the story of Jonah as a children's story, but this little tale has some
important lessons for folks of all ages. It's very easy to picture this
story in your mind's eye, so dust off your imagination and let's go fishing
for the story of Jonah.
The year was about 775 B.C. and in a
city called Nineveh, located in Assyria, they were practicing evil that the
Lord didn't like. The Lord would always warn before the people by way of
His prophets before He would ever do anything like destroy a city, as it is
written. Sooooo, the Lord spoke to Jonah saying, Get up and go to the great
city of Nineveh and warn them because their wickedness has come to my
Now Jonah was from Gath-hepher and
Nineveh was about 500 miles or so, east from there. Well, Jonah didn't
wanna go to Nineveh because, he knew that God was known for extending mercy
and that was a long way to travel and frieghtening to him. Jonah decided to
run away from God, so he went down to Joppa, about 25 miles away and found a
ship heading west for Tarshish. He paid the fare and went down into the
ship thinking he was escaping the presence of the Lord.
However, the Lord hurled a strong wind
on the sea and created a huge storm, so strong that the ship was in danger
of being destroyed. The sailors were afraid and they all cried to their
gods and threw all the cargo of the ship into the sea to lighten it.
Meanwhile, Jonah was down in the side of the ship, fast asleep.
The shipmaster went down to Jonah and
said to him, What do you think you're doing, O sleeper? Get up and call on
your God and ask Him to consider us, so we don't die. The people on the
ship decided to cast lots to find out whose fault all this trouble was.
When they cast their lots, the lot fell upon Jonah. They asked him, What's
the reason for all this evil and where do you come from? What's your
country and who are your people?
Jonah said, I'm an Hebrew and I fear
the Lord God of Heaven, that made the sea and the dry land. Jonah told them
that he was hiding from the Lord and this scared the people. They asked
Jonah, Why did you do this? The storm was growing more and more furious and
the people said What should we do to you so the sea will calm down for us?
Jonah said, Throw me overboard into
the sea and it will be calm afterward because I know it's my fault that this
tempest is upon you. They were afraid to throw Jonah in the water, because
they didn't wanna make God more angry than He already was. They rowed hard
trying to bring the ship to land, but they couldn't. The sea was stirred up
and violently against them. They cried to God and said, We beg you, O Lord,
we beg you, don't let us die for this man's life and don't blame us for
innocent blood because you, O Lord, have done as it pleased you. So they
picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea, and the sea stopped her raging.
Then the men respected the Lord greatly. They offered a sacrifice and made
Now, the Lord had prepared a great fish to
swallow up Jonah. Let's have a
lil bread crumb at this point, shall we ... We were taught as children when
we heard this story that is was a whale that Jonah was swallowed by.
However, it does not say that it was a whale, it just says GREAT FISH. But
Jesus clarifies that it was indeed a whale when He said ...
For as Jonah was three
days and three nights in the whale's belly so shall the Son of man be
three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
The whale swallowed Jonah and he
was in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights. Did you know
that this was a shadow of things to come? A shadow is an
event that is similar (like a shadow) to something that's gonna
happen in the future. Jesus explained this shadow in
Luke 11:29-30 when the Pharisees tempted Jesus, asking Him for
a sign from heaven. Jesus told them that an evil generation looks for a
sign, an no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah the prophet.
Just as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, the Son of man will be to this
generation, and just as Jonah was in the belly of a whale for three days and
three nights, the Son of man will be three days and three nights in the
heart of the earth.
What happens in the belly of a fish for an uncooperative prophet of God?
We'll find out in Chapter 2!
THE BOOK OF JONAH
Ahoy there! As you remember, we have a man overboard in our story, but usually
that means that someone accidentally fell in the water. This wasn't the
case in this instance. That man overboard was the prophet Jonah himself and
he was purposely thrown into the water. He was hiding from the Lord so he
wouldn't have to go to Nineveh and preach to the people there as God
commanded him, who were overcome with evil. Jonah didn't wanna go to
Nineveh because he figured that in the end, God would just forgive the
people anyway, so why go through all the trouble. His presence on the ship
brought about a terrible tempest that was about to destroy the ship and all
that were on it, so with prayers of mercy, the people on the ship, tossed
Jonah into the sea.
Well, Jonah was swallowed up by a
whale, and at first you may think this is a terrible thing, but let's go
back and digest this part of Chapter 1 verse 17 a little bit. Now the Lord
had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. What does it mean, He
prepared the fish? God actually provided protection for Jonah inside
the whale, He wasn't making bait out of Jonah.
Jonah has a little change of spirit
during his stay within the Lord's special accommodations for him and he
realizes the seriousness of God's command. He knew that the alternative was
drowning in the sea and he praised the Lord from out of the whale's belly:
"I cried to the Lord because of my distress and He heard me, out of the
belly of the grave I cried, and you heard my voice. You had thrown me into
the deep, in the middle of the seas and floods surrounded me. All your
winds and waves passed over me. Then I realized, I am cast out of your
sight, but I will still seek you. The waters compassed me about, even to
the soul, the depth closed around me, the seaweeds were wrapped around my
head. I went down to the floor of the ocean, the earth imprisoned me for
ever, still, you brought up my life from death, O Lord my God. When my soul
fainted inside me I remembered the Lord and my prayer came in to you, in
your holy temple. Those who are foolish give up their own mercy. But I
will sacrifice to you with the voice of thanksgiving, I'll pay what I've
promised. Salvation is from the Lord."
Haven't we all, as Christian found ourselves in the spiritual darkness and
felt out of the presence of the Lord? At times like these we can take a
valuable lesson from what Jonah did and pray.
The Lord loves humility in a person and Jonah's
prayer demonstrated his repentance, so the Lord spoke to the fish, and it
vomited Jonah out onto dry land. He was given another opportunity to perform
the task he had been called to do.
In the next chapter, we'll find
out what happens when Jonah goes to Nineveh, so be sure to stick around!
CLICK LINK BELOW TO UNDERSTAND WHY JONAH MADE THE PRAYER
THE BOOK OF JONAH
another great chapter shall we? When the Word of the Lord came to Jonah
a second time, God said get up and go to Nineveh, that great city and preach
to them the words that I will tell you. Jonah didn't "flounder" around this
time he went to Nineveh and obeyed the Lord. Nineveh was such a BIG city
that it took three days to travel from one side of the city to the other.
Jonah went one day's journey into the city and cried out the Lord's message.
"In 40 days, Nineveh will be overthrown" ...
The people of Nineveh believed the message from God and they announced a
fast. Everyone put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them. Even
the king of Nineveh did so. He made a proclamation throughout Nineveh that
no man, beast, herd or flock was to eat or rink anything and be covered with
sackcloth and cry out mightily to God. He demanded every soul turn from
their evil way and perhaps God's anger would be calmed and they would not be
Here is a lil tidbit for ya ... "Sackcloth" was a custom of
mourning in the Middle East region. They would wear a very coarse cloth or
goat or camel hair. I bet it was uncomfortable and a constant reminder of
what you had done wrong while wearing it. "Fasting" is where they would not
eat or drink for a said period of time. This would deprive the flesh of
nourishment which would bring forth their Spiritual side making their senses
keener. As far as the "Ashes" ... They would cover themselves with dirty
sooty ash as to show they were dirty with sin. They didn't throw a quick
apology up to God and carry on as usual, NO WAY ... They repented.
Well, the people of Nineveh must have been sincere in their repenting for
their sins cuz it worked and God forgave them and decided not to destroy the
city. It was their earnest, heartfelt plea for forgiveness that brought
forth the forgiveness. Kinda makes you want to be a lil more sincere the
next time you need forgiveness from our Father does it not?
THE BOOK OF JONAH
When we left off, Nineveh had repented and was forgiven by God. Well,
believe it or not, this annoyed ole Jonah. He even got a lil sassy with God
when he prayed "God, didn't I tell you this would happen before I came here
and I ran off to Tarshish because I knew you would be merciful and forgive
the people of Nineveh. So take my life from me cuz it's better to die than
Pretty shocking huh? After all he had been through and remember the touching
prayer he gave God from the belly of a great fish. Then he found it within
himself to be upset with God cuz God chose to forgive the people. I mean
Jonah was just granted the same compassion a few days earlier from the belly
of the great fish and now would rather die than live cuz God granted the
same for others.
God answered Jonah ... Is it right for you to be angry? So Jonah went
eastward outside of the city and set himself up a lil booth and he sat right
on down, waiting to see what would happen to the city. God saw this and
created a great gourd so that it would cast a shadow and provide him shade
in his grief. Jonah was glad for the shady comfort.
The next day God created a worm which destroyed the Gourd that God had made.
Then the sun rose and the heat of the day rose. God created a great wind and
the sun beat upon the head of Jonah so much so that he fainted and said
AGAIN, it is better for me to die than live.
God asked Jonah if it was right to be angry about the gourd and Jonah said
yes, I do well to be angry even unto death. The Lord said, you have pity on
a gourd in which you have not labored neither made it grow which came up in
a night and was gone in a night and should I not spare Nineveh which has
more than 120,000 people which knew not their right hand from their left
(Knew not what they were doing) ... The book suddenly ends there ... One can
only imagine what took place at that point.
We all get this feeling inside and want to say to Jonah what's the matter
fella, you spoke God's Word and the people chose to believe and were saved.
What's the problem??? The problem was pride. Jonah felt that since God
forgave the people that his works were in vain. He went and sat outside the
city hoping it would be destroyed.
This story is a "shadow" of things to come in that we cannot go and sin, be
punished by God, pray for forgiveness, be forgiven by God and then step away
from that and fail to UNDERSTAND that GRACE is for everyone. Not just
ourselves. Soooooooooooo, the next time you come across someone RUNNING and
HIDING from God and their words and deeds may be deemed as sin, keep this in
mind ... We too are sinners and we have to ask God for His forgiveness all
the time. Judge not lest ye be judged. Let us NEVER become as Jonah and
become blinded by pride so much that we would rather die than understand the