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Jonah Chapter 1


  • Jonah 1:1 Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,
  • 2 Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.

This was the capital of the Assyrian Empire, a very ancient city near the Tigris river. It was a wicked city. It had to be very wicked before God sends destruction, even then, God doesn't destroy until He warns first. Also the iniquity of a region has to get so full of sin that it is beyond repentance as in the case of the Amorites mentioned by God to Abraham back before their iniquity was complete or full. 

  • Genesis 15:12 And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him.
  • 13 And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;
  • 14 And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.
  • 15 And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age.
  • 16 But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.
  • 17 And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces.
  • 18 In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:
  • 19 The Kenites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites,
  • 20 And the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims,
  • 21 And the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.

God has promised Abraham and his descendants the whole land of Canaan but they did not receive it in the lifetime of Abraham because the sin or iniquity of those in the land of Canaan was not yet complete or past the point of no return. Instead judgment on Canaan is delayed until the days of Joshua. God gives nations a chance to repent before final destruction is allowed. This is why I get concerned for the United States.

  • 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.

I use to think Jonah was just scared and timid and didn't want to obey God because of fear but as we study Jonah in the later chapters we will see a different picture. It isn't fear that causes him to flee, it is the fact that he just didn't want God to save Nineveh. They were oppressors and enemies of Israel.

Why Jonah thought there was any place in heaven or the earth that God was not present, I don't know. This was way before Jesus our Lord and our Christ came to make the way for our salvation and perhaps some didn't know that God was everywhere.

  • 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.
  • 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.

How Jonah could sleep during a storm after running from God really makes me wonder. I doubt I could do that. Guilt is not a very good sedative for sleeping. Maybe he felt justified and didn't think Nineveh deserved the grace and mercy of God.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • 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.

These men with Jonah were probably worshippers of some false god and knew enough to sense the danger and the need for everyone in the ship to call upon their god. This worked out so Jonah had to tell them of the real God who created heaven and earth. So even though Jonah thought he was running from God, God used him as a witness to these men. Notice the next verse shows that at the words of Jonah, the men feared exceedingly.

  • Jonah 1:1 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 wanted to save the men with him so he knew that for the storm to stop he had to be thrown overboard.

  • 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.

We see how hard they fought to spare the life of Jonah even to save their own lives but now in the next verse we see them praying to the God of Jonah. This is how I believed these men found the real Lord that they didn't know beforehand.

  • 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.

They gave up the fight and finally did as Jonah requested them to do.

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

I wonder if Jonah was frightened. The bible doesn't tell us all things but I would be scared if it were me. 

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

Now we see that these men worshipped God and sacrificed. So on their behalf good was done as they witnesses the power of God to cause and then calm the storm.

  • 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.

God prepared a fish. It had to be a large fish but it was not a whale, that was assumed, but the fish actually saved Jonah's life or he would have drowned.

Jesus compared His death and burial to the experience of Jonah.

  • Matthew 12:38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, "Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you."
  • 39 But he answered them, "An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.
  • 40 For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
  • 41 The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.

For this reason there are some bible teachers that believe Jonah actually died and was resurrected but that is speculation. It takes for interesting discussion though when we read and study the book of Jonah.

Jesus uses the experiences of Jonah to foretell of His death, burial and resurrection.

This is a good story along with the words of Jesus to remind us that there is a way out of sin as individuals and as a nation. Repentance, out of sin and into Christ. Those that fail to repent will be accused at the day of judgment by the men of Nineveh who repented at the preaching of Jonah.