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The Book of Jonah
Call and Commission of Jonah, Jonah 1:1-10
Jonah 1:1-2 Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,  Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. (KJV)
Jonah is mentioned in 2 Kings 14:25. He prophesied during the reign of Jeroboam II, the king of Israel from 793-753 B.C. He may have been in the "sons of the prophets" mentioned in 2 Kings 2:3. God told Jonah to preach to Nineveh, the most important city in Assyria.
Jonah does not say much about Nineveh’s wickedness, but the prophet Nahum tells us a good bit. Nahum says that Nineveh was guilty of #1. evil plots against God (Nahum 1:9), #2. exploitation of the helpless (Nahum 2:12), #3. cruelty in war (Nahum 2:12-13), and #4. idolatry, prostitution, and witchcraft (Nahum 3:4).
God told Jonah to go to Nineveh, about 500 miles northeast of Israel, to warn of judgment and to declare that the people COULD receive mercy and forgiveness IF they repented. Nineveh would soon become the capital of the huge Assyrian empire.
Jonah hated the powerful and evil Assyrians, but was called by God to warn them that God’s judgment would come down on them if they did not repent.
Jonah 1:3 But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. (KJV)
Jonah really did not want to go to Nineveh, so he tried to run from God. Many of us TRY to run from God when we do not want to do His will, but in the end, God always wins! God has ways of teaching us to obey Him and follow Him. Jonah, did not want non-Jews (Gentiles) to obtain God’s favor. Jonah knew what God wanted him to do, but he did NOT want to do it. Many Christians fall into this category. “Go ye therefore” is our command! But how many people obey our Lord Jesus and tell others about Him?
Tarshish was one of Phoenicia’s western ports. Nineveh was to the east. Jonah went in the opposite direction. But running got him into big trouble. We often pay a costly price for running from God. It is much better to obey Him from the start; because He will win!
Jonah 1:4 But the Lord sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken. (KJV)
The ship Jonah sailed on was probably a large trading vessel with a deck. Jonah’s disobedience to God endangered the lives of the entire ship’s crew. We have a great responsibility to obey God’s Word because our sin and disobedience can hurt others around us.
Jonah 1:5 Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep. (KJV)
This was a terrible storm, and the desperate sailors feared for their lives. They begged their gods for help and threw all the cargo overboard to lighten the ship. All this time Jonah was sound asleep.
Jonah 1:6 So the shipmaster came to him, and said unto him, What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not. (KJV)
The captain went down after him. “How can you sleep at a time like this?” he shouted. “Get up and pray to your god! Maybe He will have mercy on us and spare us.”
Jonah 1:7 And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah. (KJV)
The crew cast lots to find the guilty person, relying on their superstition to give them the answer. But their system worked, only because God intervened to let Jonah know that he could NOT run away.
Jonah 1:8 Then said they unto him, Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this evil is upon us; What is thine occupation? and whence comest thou? what is thy country? and of what people art thou? (KJV)
“What have you done to bring this awful storm down on us? Who are you? What country are you from?” Jonah did NOT tell them he was a prophet. He certainly was NOT a witness for God. Anyone out of the will of God can never be an effective witness for God. Maybe that is why so many ‘professing’ Christians have so much trouble in life. They are too busy running from God, to stop, listen and obey Him.
Jonah 1:9 And he said unto them, I am an Hebrew; and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land. (KJV)
When Jonah told them he was a Jew, that meant he worshipped one God, never an idol! Jews worshipped the God who was the Creator of the Universe. Jonah said he feared the Lord God, but you cannot seek God’s love and run away from Him at the same time. It would not be long that Jonah would soon realize that no matter where he went, he could NOT get away from God.
But before Jonah could return to God, he first had to stop going the opposite direction! What has God told you to do? If you want more of God’s love and power, you must be willing to do what He tells you. You cannot say that you truly believe in God if you don’t do what He says.
1 John 2:3-6 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. 6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked. (KJV) . . . Too many people are like Jonah.
Jonah 1:10 Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him, Why hast thou done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them. (KJV)
Jonah told them that he was running away from the Lord. The sailors were terrified when they were made aware of the wrath of so powerful a God because Jonah had run away from Him. “Why did you do this?” they shouted.
Jonah Arrives In The Fish, Jonah 1:11-17
Jonah 1:11 Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous. (KJV)
The storm was getting worse by the minute. Jonah truly sees the Hand of God in all that has happened. God was moving in his life. He knew the only way the storm would quit was for him to get off the boat going the wrong way from what God had told him. He knew what he did was wrong.
Jonah 1:12 And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you. (KJV)
“Throw me into the sea and it will become calm again. I know that this terrible storm is all my fault” Jonah said. God had made up His mind that Jonah was NOT going to Tarshish. Jonah would go where God wanted him to go, and that was Nineveh!
Jonah 1:13 Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not: for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous against them. (KJV)
Even though the sailors are heathen, they do not want to throw Jonah overboard. They really tried to get the ship out of the storm. They row as hard as they can but they cannot reach land.
Jonah 1:14 Wherefore they cried unto the Lord, and said, We beseech thee, O Lord, we beseech thee, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not upon us innocent blood: for thou, O Lord, hast done as it pleased thee. (KJV)
Then they cried out to the Lord, Jonah's God. “O Lord, don’t make us die for this man’s sin” they pleaded. “And don’t hold us responsible for his death, because it isn’t our fault. O Lord, you have sent this storm upon him for your own good reasons.” These heathens turned to the one true God because of what had happened. Some good has come out of Jonah’s disobedience.
Jonah 1:15 So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging. (KJV)
Then the sailors picked Jonah up and threw him into the raging sea, and the storm stopped, right now! Do you see the power of Almighty God here? As soon as Jonah was off the ship, the horrendous storm stopped . . . immediately! God was in control then, and God is in control now, this very day, and forever. Believe this!
Jonah 1:16 Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the Lord, and made vows. (KJV)
These sailors were awestruck by the Lord’s immense power, and they offered Him a sacrifice and vowed to serve Him.
Jonah 1:17 Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. (KJV)
Whether this was a big fish or a whale really does not make any difference. Some think this was a whale. Some think it could have been a special fish, made by God for this specific event. Jesus’ Words must be considered in all this. Mat.12:40 For as Jonas 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. (KJV) . . . Jesus called it a whale! Some say the Greek translation for whale in this verse is ketos which means a huge fish. Again I say it really does not matter to me. God had this huge beast in the right place at the right time to swallow Jonah. That is what is important.
I once read somewhere, the following information about a whale. Sperm whales grow 60 to 80 feet long and weigh over 60 tons. It’s mouth can be 20 feet long and 15 feet high and 9 feet wide. It can’t easily bite or chew, but usually swallows its prey whole. A whale’s favorite food is the giant squid, which can be up 60 feet long and weigh over 1000 pounds. So, the whale would have no problem swallowing a 200 pound man. The temperature inside a whale is about 104 degrees, which would be uncomfortably warm, but not life threatening.
“And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” Many have tried to dismiss this miraculous event as fiction, but the Bible does NOT describe it as a dream or a legend. We should not try to explain away this miracle. Do NOT lose your trust in the Bible as God’s true and reliable Word. Jonah’s experience was used by Christ Himself to illustrate Christ’s death and resurrection (Mat.12:39-40).
Was Jonah alive or dead in the fish? Some commentators say it was only by the Lord’s mercies that Jonah was not consumed. They say Jonah was alive in the fish three days and nights. To us, this is impossible, but with God all things are possible (Mat.19:26). Jonah, by this divine preservation, was made a type of Christ; as our blessed Lord Himself declared (Mat.12:40).
Still other commentators say Jonah was dead those three days and three nights and was resurrected when the whale or fish vomited him out. I will let you decide for yourself. But please do not discount the words of Jesus. Matthew 12:39-40 But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: 40 For as Jonas 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. (KJV)
Book of Jonah
Ch1 . Ch2 . Ch3 . Ch4 . Whales?