Morning Bible Study
YouVersion “Live” event… / “Notes” on website…
Jonah = “dove”
Jonah was a contemporary of our friends Amos and Hosea, but he started his
ministry about ten years before them.
Unlike Amos and Hosea, Jonah’s early ministry wasn’t
about warning Israel to repent from their spiritual idolatry, it was about encouraging
Jeroboam II to conquer new territory.
(2 Kings 14:25 NKJV) He restored the territory of Israel from the
entrance of Hamath to the Sea of the Arabah, according to the word of the Lord God of Israel, which He had spoken
through His servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the
prophet who was from Gath Hepher.
It’s after Jeroboam II had conquered this
additional territory, when the nation had become prosperous, that Hosea and
Amos come along and begin to speak about the growing spiritual idolatry taking
place, and warning of the future Assyrian captivity.
But the Assyrian shall be his king, they refused to repent.
Therefore I will send you into captivity beyond Damascus,”Says the Lord,
whose name is the God of hosts.
He came from the town of Gath-hepher, 34 miles
north of the capital city Samaria in the area of Galilee.
In a way, the book is as much about Jonah as it is anyone else.
We are going to learn a lot by watching the growth of this prophet.
But Jonah’s message (in this book) will be aimed
at the city of Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian empire.
The Assyrians were known to the Israelites long
The Assyrian Empire first began to emerge around the time of Abraham (2000
By 830 BC, they were getting closer to Israel’s backyard, and there is a
record of King Jehu paying tribute money to the Assyrians.
King Jeroboam II (remember him from Amos?) became king of Israel around 790
We think Jonah began his career as a prophet around the year 786 BC.
Amos’ prophecy, warning Israel to repent or face Assyrian conquest, came
around 762 BC.
We think the events of this book take place around the year 759 BC.
If Jonah arrived at Nineveh in 759 BC, then there were
some significant things that had already taken place.
Nineveh had already experienced two “plagues” in 765 BC and 759 BC.
There had been a total solar eclipse on June 15, 762 BC.
You could say that Nineveh has been “shook up” and is
open to God.
1:1-3 Jonah’s Disobedience
:1 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai,
:2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry
out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.”
This was a very old, very ancient city.
Genesis records it was founded by Nimrod after the
(real) flood of Noah. (Gen. 10:11)
From that land he went to Assyria and built Nineveh,
Rehoboth Ir, Calah,
:2 their wickedness
The Assyrians left records of their exploits. It wasn’t pretty.
II (883–859) boasted, “I stormed the mountain peaks and took them. In the midst
of the mighty mountain I slaughtered them; with their
blood I dyed the mountain red like wool. The heads of their warriors I cut off,
and I formed them into a pillar over against their city; their young men and
their maidens I burned in the fire” (Luckenbill, Ancient Records of Assyria and Babylonia,
Regarding one captured leader, he wrote, “I flayed [him], his skin I spread
upon the wall of the city …” (ibid., 1:146). He also
wrote of mutilating the bodies of live captives and stacking their corpses in
This was not unique to this ruler.
This was the Assyrian way.
:2 has come up before Me
God loves the world
If you’re not careful, you can get the idea that
God only cares about His “people”.
A Jew might think that God only cared about the people of Israel.
A Christian might think that God only cares for those who believe in Jesus.
The truth is, God cares about the entire planet.
(John 3:16 NKJV) For God so loved the world that He gave His
only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have
Some people look at this and think that the “world” that
God loved was only those who would believe in Jesus.
The text says “the world”, not “the elect”.
Nineveh had become a wicked place.
God was grieved over the way they lived.
God knew that His own sense of justice would require Him to one day bring
judgment on this nation unless they around and turned to Him.
God told Moses what His true character is like:
(Exodus 34:6–7 NKJV) —6 And
the Lord passed before him and
proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious,
longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, 7 keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and
transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the
iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the
third and the fourth generation.”
You might want to stare at that last phrase about God
judging those who are “guilty”, but don’t miss the
first eight qualities of God (merciful, gracious…).
God will indeed judge the guilty, like Nineveh.
But God is first and foremost merciful,
gracious, and patient (longsuffering).
To be honest, Jonah knows this.
And this is why Jonah is going to run from God.
Jonah doesn’t want God to be gracious to Nineveh
because he hates Nineveh and he is hoping that Nineveh will get wiped out.
How do you feel about lost
(Matthew 9:37–38 NKJV) —37 Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest
truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. 38 Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out
laborers into His harvest.”
We were reminded last night that
we need to “pray” for the Lord to send out laborers into the harvest.
And if you are serious about praying
for the lost, you will find yourself actually doing something about it as well.
Video: “The Fishing Club”
:3 But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish
from the presence of the Lord. He
went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish;
so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.
It is generally thought that Tarshish
was on the western side of the Mediterranean Sea, either in Northern Africa or
Video: Joppa, Nineveh, Tarshish map
Joppa was the ancient seaport on the coast of Israel, where Tel-Aviv is
Nineveh is over 500 miles northeast of the capital city Samaria.
In ancient terms, Tarshish was on the other side
of the planet from Nineveh, the opposite direction of Nineveh. It’s 2300+ miles
west of Samaria.
If God wants Jonah to give a message to Nineveh, then Jonah is going to get
as far away from Nineveh as he can.
:3 from the presence of the Lord
Jonah has even shared with his fellow travelers that he is fleeing from
The truth is, you can’t flee from God’s presence. David wrote,
(Psalm 139:7–10 NKJV) —7 Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can
I flee from Your presence? 8 If I ascend into heaven, You are
there; If I make
my bed in hell, behold, You are there. 9 If I take
the wings of the morning, And dwell in
the uttermost parts of the sea, 10 Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me.
There’s a story about a fellow who suddenly left a
discussion group at a Bible Study quite disgusted, slamming the door after him.
One person trying to relieve the tension, remarked, “Well, he’s gone.” To this
the hostess replied, “No, he isn’t. That’s a closet!”
You may tell yourself that you are trying to run away from God, but you
really can’t do that because He is everywhere.
1:4-9 The Storm
:4 But the Lord
sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so
that the ship was about to be broken up.
:4 a mighty tempest on the sea
You have to be careful what you think about storms.
Some might think storms can be kind of funny,
especially if you put some music to it…
Jonah’s storm was more like …
:5 Then the mariners were afraid; and every man
cried out to his god, and threw the cargo that was in the ship into the
sea, to lighten the load. But Jonah had gone down into
the lowest parts of the ship, had lain down, and was fast asleep.
:6 So the captain came to him, and said to him,
“What do you mean, sleeper? Arise, call on your God; perhaps your God will
consider us, so that we may not perish.”
:7 And they said to one another, “Come, let us cast lots, that we may know
for whose cause this trouble has come upon us.” So
they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah.
:7 the lot fell on Jonah
“Casting lots” was a little like throwing dice. It’s one of the ways
that ancients would use to make decisions or try to find out what God wanted.
It’s what people do when they don’t know what to
I don’t think it’s the kind of thing we ought to
make a regular habit of because God gave us brains and I think He prefers that
we use them.
Yet God has a way of using things like this from time to time.
(Proverbs 16:33 NKJV) The lot is cast into the lap, But its every
decision is from the Lord.
God has a way of getting His message to people.
It will be very clear as the story develops that Jonah indeed is the reason
for the storm at sea.
:8 Then they said to him, “Please tell us! For
whose cause is this trouble upon us? What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of
what people are you?”
:9 So he said to them, “I am a Hebrew; and
I fear the Lord, the God of
heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.”
1:10-17 Tossed Overboard
:10 Then the men were exceedingly afraid, and said
to him, “Why have you done this?” For the men knew that he
fled from the presence of the Lord,
because he had told them.
:10 the men knew that he fled
Apparently Jonah had told them as he boarded the
ship that he was fleeing from Yahweh.
What they DIDN’T know at the time was that he was
also a worshipper of Yahweh.
It’s one thing to flee from Yahweh when you don’t
It’s quite another to flee from God when you do
And now they hear that Yahweh is the maker of the
“sea and land”.
:10 Why have you done this?
The sinking ship
Or … My disobedience imperils others
Jonah isn’t alone on a sinking ship. There are others on board.
Sometimes we tell ourselves that we are the only ones hurt by our
The alcoholic may be aware that they are ruining their own life, but rarely
do they realize that their boat is sinking, along with everyone else on board.
The sex addict may be thinking that their little
porn addiction is something that doesn’t hurt anyone else.
They have no clue to the harm that is
being done to their spouse. They
have no clue to how their addiction has changed the way they treat other
people. They have no clue what kinds of
things their kids are learning about relationships by watching how they relate
to other people.
The food addict tries to pretend that it’s not a
big deal that they are a few pounds overweight.
Actually, your ship is sinking. You are at risk for diabetes, which WILL sink
your ship. Your high blood pressure,
which if left untreated will eventually damage a multitude of your internal
organs. Your high
cholesterol levels putting you at risk for a heart attack. Your sleep apnea is causing you heart damage.
I could tell you that the chances are there are others in
your family who are also overweight, and it doesn’t
help when they see you and your own poundage.
I know these things and may sound like I’m
being extra hard on you, because this is an area I’ve struggled with.
With Jonah, the issue is his unwillingness to go where God wanted him to go
and speak what God wanted him to speak.
God had a message for the people of Nineveh.
God had a man who could share that message.
If Jonah goes, the people might listen, turn from their sins, and be saved.
If Jonah doesn’t go, the people of Nineveh will
cross that threshold of sin, and they will experience destruction because of
My disobedience does affect others.
Paul wrote to the Corinthians about how one person’s sin affects the whole
Corinthians 5:6 NKJV) Your glorying is not
good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?
Sometimes my disobedience is sinking the entire ship with
everyone else on board.
:11 Then they said to him, “What shall we do to
you that the sea may be calm for us?”—for the sea was growing more tempestuous.
:12 And he said to them, “Pick me up and throw me
into the sea; then the sea will become calm for you. For I
know that this great tempest is because of me.”
:13 Nevertheless the men rowed hard to return to
land, but they could not, for the sea continued to grow more tempestuous
:14 Therefore they cried out to the Lord and said, “We pray, O Lord, please do not let us perish for
this man’s life, and do not charge us with innocent blood; for You, O Lord, have done as it pleased You.”
:15 So they picked up Jonah and threw him into the
sea, and the sea ceased from its raging.
:15 threw him into the sea
When to toss the bum
I think there’s a lesson here about how to treat “Jonahs”. Sometimes
we need to be tossed overboard. But first …
I applaud the sailors for wanting to keep everyone on board safe. They are reluctant to toss Jonah overboard,
even though he’s the one suggesting it.
God is by nature “patient”.
Peter 3:9 NLT) The Lord isn’t really being slow about his
promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does
not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.
We too need to learn to be “patient” with others.
When Paul is telling the Corinthians about the better way
for the church to operate, he wrote,
Corinthians 13:4 NLT) Love is patient and kind..
Paul used the same word for “patient” that Peter used to
Sometimes it’s “patience” (or, “kindness”) that
causes a person to turn around. This is
how God prefers to act towards us…
2:4 NLT) Don’t you see how wonderfully
kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from
I was wondering … since Jonah recommended they toss him overboard, why didn’t Jonah just get up and jump overboard?
I think that the sailors didn’t
want anyone to die. They didn’t want to be held accountable to Yahweh for Jonah’s
death. I wonder if they had Jonah tied
up to keep him from going overboard.
I think it’s a good thing to err on the side of
sometimes we need to …
But there came a time when they realized that
having Jonah on board was going to sink the ship with all of them on board.
There is a time when patience becomes “co-dependence”.
We tell ourselves that we are trying to be kind and
patient with a person, when in fact we are just helping them continue in their
When an addict is always being “rescued” from facing the
consequences of their actions by the people near them, it’s
harder for them to learn their need for change.
They say that a person has to “hit bottom” in order to want to change.
Jonah is going to literally “hit bottom”, but not until he
gets tossed from the ship.
:16 Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and offered a
sacrifice to the Lord and took
:17 Now the Lord
had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah
was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
:17 the Lord had prepared a great fish
There are theories as to what kind of “fish” this might have been.
(Note: it doesn’t call it a “whale”)
Some suggest that it might have been a special fish “prepared” by God, and
we shouldn’t spend too much time worrying about it
because it could have been unique to Jonah’s day.
Some suggest a sperm whale which can grow up to 70 feet long and swallows
their food whole.
Two marine scientists from Sea
World have actually hypothesized it could even have been a great white
:17 three days and three nights
We’ll get to this next week…
:3 Jonah arose to flee
Are you running from God? Perhaps
today is the day you ought to turn around.