The Book of Jonah

Chapter 1

"The Word of the LORD"
 
"Mission to Nineveh"

The term "Minor Prophets" means that they are short books. These Minor Prophets reveal our tomorrow's newspapers. The Minor Prophets are very important to study and understand in our day. Every true Christian should know what they are telling us.

The word "Jonah" in the Hebrew means "Dove". In Matthew 16:17 Jesus called Simon Peter "Bar-Jonah", which is to day "the son of Dove". The dove was also there when Jesus Christ was baptized.

This book and it's lesson's, have a great deal to do with Christ's prophecy in reference to Christ being in the tomb three days and three nights, recorded in Matthew 12:40. Jonah is not just a book of history, but recording the conversion of Nineveh, which was given to us as a sign of important things to come.

When the scribes and Pharisees asked Jesus for a sign of the "day of Judgment". Jesus called them, "evil and adulterous generation, and no sign shall be given to it" but the sign of Jonah. " Matthew 12:38-39

Nineveh was the capital of Assyria, and a wicked city. Unlike what most people say about Jonah being a coward, the Assyrian's were about to battle with Jonah's own people, Israel, and the conversion of Nineveh extended the life of Israel's enemies. By Jonah fleeing, he risked the life of his own soul, to save his people. Yet God's will win in the end.

Jonah 1:1 "Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,"

Jonah 1:2 "Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before Me."

Nineveh was the capital of Assyria, on the banks of the Tigris. In ancient Babylon, before Abraham's time, it was called "Nina", after the Babylonian goddess "Nina". It was founded by "Khammurabi", in 1915 B.C., according to "Records of the past, Vol. iv, part ii, page 61." Excavations reveal, "the mound of Nebi Yunus (Nineveh) with Jonah's tomb on top, could not be explored."

"Their wickedness" was the cause of their destruction. Nineveh was noted for idolatry, cruelty and violence of all kinds.

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."

God had called Jonah and gave him specific instructions, and a location to go to. This is the start of an important lesson for each of us. It doesn't pay to run from the Lord. You can not run from God. God has his way of calling you back to him. God is always in control.

God's elect will always be brought into understanding and submission to God's will for them.

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."

God controls the elements and uses them for His own "will". Jonah was fleeing and God is about to bring him back. See how God would later use them in His plan.

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."

When this great tempest came, the sailors were scared. This was a storm like none other they had seen. Every man on that ship prayed to their gods, which ever one they thought that would help them. This was a time of desperation. When they cast the cargo over the sides, it defeated the entire purpose of the journey. Their fear caused them to think of their lives, and not their profits.

Life or death doesn't matter to Jonah at this point. He knows he is fleeing from God, and what happens to him, or the ship doesn't matter anyway. Jonah felt there was no hope for him because of his disobedience to God.

The mix up here was that Jonah thought he knew more than God; However, God always knows more than Jonah, or any one else. Satan used Jonah's love for his people to cause him to disobey God. Yet God used Satan's deception to glorify His own plan.

Jonah 1:6 "So the shipmaster came to him, and said unto him, "What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God will think upon us, that we perish not."

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 thy cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah.

The ship master, or captain found Jonah sleeping in stead of praying. Then the men of the ship cast lots, to see to whom they could blame for this storm; and the lots fell, or pointed to Jonah.

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?"

Jonah is questioned to give account of himself. If most people of today were questioned to give account of themselves; they could not. Nor do most of them care. They don't know who they are with respect to the Bible. They don't recognize the fact that God is in control of everything that happens in the world even today.

Jonah has cost these men a lot, and they want an answer as to why?

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."

Jonah is giving a truthful answer as to the details of his life, but he is withholding the reason why he is there; Because he is fleeing from God's orders, so he wouldn’t have to go into Nineveh.

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."

The men knew he was running away, but they wanted to know what he was running from.

Jonah 1:11 "Then said they unto him, "What shall we so unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous."

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."

Jonah was the only one there that knew God was causing this because of him. Was Jonah scared? No. He gave up when he came aboard. When the sea bellowed; Jonah slept. To Jonah, his life was a loss, for he knew he was in defiance of what God had told him to do.

Was Jonah joking when he told them to throw him overboard? No, he was willing to die, rather than convert and save Nineveh, Israel's enemy.

We must learn from this, that when God wants your attention, He has ways of getting it.

Jonah 1:13 "Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not: for the sea wrought, and tempestuous against them."

These men knew God was interested in this man, and they didn't want to anger God any more than He was, by murdering His servant Jonah. The harder they tried to row, they just couldn't get free. The storm kept them at sea, and not on the beach. They wanted to rid themselves of Jonah, but they could not.

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."

This is quite a statement for a heathen, who worshiped other god's, as they addressed our Heavenly Father. But now they can see how God can have a way in their lives. It's like a fox hole conversion in wartime. They see the hand of God, and their inability to save their own life; then it's time to call on God.

These sailors are praying, asking God not blame them for this murder, because they were going to throw Jonah into the sea to please God.

Jonah 1:15 "So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging."

They knew then that Jonah's God had His hand on Jonah.

Jonah 1:16 "Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the LORD and made vows."

When people see and feel the presence and the hand of God directly in their life; it changes them. They take a new and different outlook on life, towards God. Vows are easy to make and very hard to keep.

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."

Many people argue with this verse, that no man could have this done to them and live.

In the Hebrew text, the Lord "prepared', which is "manah", or appointed or assigned this particular fish to do exactly what God wanted done. God appointed this fish to do a task that would be unique enough, to be used as a sign of Jesus Christ's time in the tomb. In fact it would be the only sign Jesus would give to the "Kenite", Scribes and Pharisees.

 

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