1. Jonah’s Disobedience
2. Jonah’s Prayers
3. Jonah’s Message
4. Jonah’s Anger
I God’s Command
The Book of Jonah opens with God’s command to Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach against it. From this it is seen that when God speaks, He gives clear directions which leave no room for doubt. It is also seen that often the subject of preaching is a message against wickedness. See examples of clear directions in Exodus 3:10 and Acts 9:11, 15.
II Jonah Runs Away
Let us look at possible reasons for his running away.
1. Nineveh was the capital city of the very powerful Assyrian Empire. They were troubling Israel at that time. So Jonah did not want to go to the enemy country with the message.
2. He wanted God to show mercy to his own people and not to others. But God so loved the world (John 3:16) that He wants His mercy to be shown to all people. Read also Romans 3:29.
III Jonah Finds a Ship Waiting
When we try to disobey God we often try to move away from Him in the opposite direction. During those times sometimes we will find a “ship waiting” to set sail. That does not mean that your decision to disobey God was right.
IV The Storm
God is also the author of the storm (see Psalm 148:8). Though all storms in life are not God-sent; we need to find out if there is a reason for the storms that come in our life. If it happened through disobedience, then we will have to correct our actions. David asked the Lord for the reason when there was a famine for three successive years (2 Samuel 21:1).
V Jonah Sleeps
When the world is facing storms it is not right for God’s people to sleep. Instead they should learn to pray so that the storms will subside. At the same time we need to note that when we sin other innocent people are also affected like all the people in this ship. Jonah himself knew this (see verse 12 of chapter 1). Read Joshua 22:20–“He was not the only one who died for his sin.”
VI When Cause of Sin Is Removed, Calm Comes
Jonah is thrown overboard. Then great calm comes. When wrong things are kept in the ship of your life, there will come storms sent by God to make you realize the wrong in your life. Unless you give it up, there will be no calm. Throw it overboard and then God will give you peace.
“We must drown that which will drown us” — Matthew Henry.
VII God Provides
We find God providing a great fish to swallow Jonah. We can believe this because Jesus spoke about this (Matthew 12:40). God’s provision is found in most unlikely circumstances. God sometimes closes the mouth of lions (Daniel 6:22); and sometimes opens the mouth of fishes. It is His choice how to provide.
Jonah’s First Prayer
1. To whom should you call when distress comes?
The Lord (see also Psalm 121:1)
2. Why should you pray?
Because God always listens and answers (see also Jeremiah 33:3 and Psalm 86:7; 91:15).
3. What is one of the greatest characteristic of a Christian? Hope!
That is why Jonah says, “Yet I will look again toward your holy temple” (verse 4). He had looked toward Tarshish (in Spain, the end of the then known world). But now he has hope that he will look again towards God’s presence (see Psalm 63:2).
4. Who is able to bring your life from the pit?
God! (see Jonah 2:6). Here we are reminded of the resurrection of Jesus Christ (see Psalm 16:10, 11 & Acts 2:24– 36). We also find the example of another person in the pit praying—Jeremiah (read Lamentations 3:55—57).
5. In what way should sacrifices be made?
With thanksgiving (see Jonah 1: 9).
With sacrifice of praise (Hebrews 13:15).
6. What is the great lesson Jonah learned?
Salvation comes from the Lord (see verse 9). Read also Acts 4:12. It says, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (NIV). God says of Himself: “. . . so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting men may know there is none besides me. I am the Lord, and there is no other (Isaiah 45:6), Jesus said: “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6).
I The God of Second Chances
No one of us is perfect. We all have disobeyed God one time or the other in life. At the same time throughout the Bible we find God willing to give a second chance to His servants who humble themselves when they make mistakes.
The verse “Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a SECOND TIME” [emphasis added] should give each one of us hope that when we humble ourselves God will still have work for us to do.
Compare the life of Peter. See also 2 Chronicles 7:14. The blood of Jesus was shed on the cross so that you and me will have a second chance in life to have peace with God (read also Isaiah 1:18).
II Jonah’s Obedience
The Bible tells us that obedience is better than sacrifice (see 1 Samuel 15:22). He went and preached the message God gave him!
III The People’s Response
Everybody repented. Repentance is the key message of the gospel. John preached repentance. Jesus preached repentance. What is repentance? Saying sorry is not full repentance. It should lead to changed action and lifestyles (see what actions the Ninevites took to demonstrate their repentance). Read Matthew 3:1, 2, 8 and 4:17).
IV God’s Response
God is pleased when people turn away from evil. And He is willing not to destroy. “For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!” (Ezekiel 18:32).
I Jonah’s Second Prayer
1. It was an honest prayer.
He told God why he fled to Tarshish. He pays God a glowing tribute–“I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity” (read also Exodus 34:6).
2. It was an angry prayer.
Read the Psalms. How many times do you find the writers talking in anger? It is alright to express your emotions in prayer!
3. It was a foolish prayer?
Do you know what would have happened if God had
granted his request immediately? He would have died. We do not know what to pray for. Do you know another person who prayed a similar foolish prayer? (Elijah/see 1 Kings 19:4). Isn’t it good that God does not answer all our prayers immediately?
II God’s Reply
When we are angry, God will ask us the reason. It is not because God does not know. But questions help us to understand why we are angry. Read the gospels and see how many times Jesus uses questions to help people understand themselves (e.g. John 4:7, “Will you give me a drink?”)
III God Provides and Removes
Jonah was acting like a child who quarrels with his mother. So God taught him a lesson using some objects of nature (like a mother teaches a child obedience by refusing to give a toy). God provided a vine and also a worm and an east wind. And Jonah who was happy about the vine, became unhappy about the worm and the east wind. Jonah repeats his wish to die and God repeats His question.
IV God’s Lesson
The heart of God is always concerned about people. He wants people to turn to Him and be saved (because salvation comes from God alone). If we are disappointed when we lose some little comforts in life that others provide for us, how much more is God saddened when people He created in His own image and likeness; and for whom Jesus died by shedding His precious blood on the cross, die without knowing Him.
1. Obey God the first time when He speaks to you. Do not wait for second chances.
2. Care for other people. Pray for them and their salvation.
Why did Jesus refer to Jonah when people demanded a miraculous sign from him? (Matthew 12:38). It was because it referred to His coming death, burial and resurrection from the dead. That is why Paul wrote that Jesus “was buried, that he was raised on the third day ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES” (1 Corinthians 15:4). [emphasis added] (Read also Luke 24:27, 44–46). We also read that Jesus was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead (Romans 1:4).
Other references to resurrection in the Old Testament:
1. Job 19:25—27.
2. Isaiah 26:19– “But your dead will live; their bodies will rise. You who dwell in the dust, wake up and shout for joy. Your dew is like the dew of the morning; the earth will give birth to her dead.”
3. Daniel 12:2– “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.”
Life Question: Do you have the hope of the resurrection? If you trust in Jesus you too will rise again. Read John 5:24—29. Read also 1 Corinthians 15:49—55.
The Word of the Lord Came; Preach Against Nineveh
Jonah 1:3 But Jonah Ran Away from the Lord
Jonah 4:11z Should I Not Be Concerned?
Jonah 2:1 From Inside the Fish Jonah Prayed to the Lord
Jonah 3:5 The Ninevites Believed God
Chapter 1 Note: 1. God is to be worshipped because He is the Creator (see Jonah1:9) 2. Casting of lots (see Proverbs 16:33 and Acts 1:23—26).
Chapter 2 Note: Jonah quotes the Psalm (e.g. Psalm 42:7)? Did you know that Jesus quoted from it? See Psalm 22:1 and Matthew 27:46. Did you know that Jesus told His disciples that the Psalms speak about Him? See Luke 24:44!
Love to read the Psalms and you’ll find Jesus close to you.
Read also Matthew 12: 38–41 where Jesus spoke about Jonah and the big fish.