Jonah 1:1 "The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai."
Congrats, readers! You made it through the book of Second Peter. Now, over the next 50 days or so, we will take a verse-by-verse look at the Old Testament minor prophet of Jonah. And on December 1, we will start looking toward the coming of our Lord in his birth.
One of the greatest tragedies in the entire Bible (and in most Gospel-preaching churches that esteem the Word of God) is that most people actually believe that the primary point of Jonah is a story about a fish. Ask most people about Jonah and most believe they know the book because they know about the fish. It is true that one feature of the book of Jonah is a fish, but that is only one very incidental part of a remarkable prophetic book of God.
C. Hassell Bullock, a professor of Biblical Studies at Wheaton, said–“The real hero of the story is the Lord God. He dominates the action in the narrative…” (C. Hassell Bullock, An Introduction to the Old Testament Prophetic Books, p. 53).
The story of Jonah is the story of the Lord God of the Bible. It is the story of a Jewish prophet, of the nation Israel, of Gentile evangelism, and of Jesus Christ. Jonah gives us a remarkable glimpse of blatant rebellion and of God’s grace. The story of Jonah is one inspired by God, interesting to study and important for doctrine. God is clearly the “principal person” of this book. God is the one calling the shots. He has the first word (1:1-2) and He has the last word (4:11). He controls the wind (1:4; 4:8), the waves (1:4), the fish (2:10), the plants (4:6) and the worm (4:7). God can send judgment and He can cancel judgment (3:4, 10).
In short, Jonah is not the story of a fish; it is a story about God!
Verse one tells us that “the word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai.”
The first thing God wants us to think about when we turn to Jonah is that Jonah received the Word of the LORD—the self-existing God of the universe who can do whatever He wants to do. We don’t know how Jonah received the Word of God. The text simply says the Word of the Lord was or became or came to Jonah.
Now God’s Word is very sacred. When God gave His Word to a prophet, it was not to be taken lightly by the prophet or the people. The word “oracle” meant “burden.” God demanded exact communication of His message. For a prophet to refuse to transmit God’s message perfectly was a very serious matter that would lead to some very serious consequences. Are you grateful that the Word of God has come to you? Do you treasure it?
Secondly, we know something of Jonah’s background. These words “son of Amittai” tell us Jonah is a Jewish prophet of the tribe of Zebulun. He was one of the chosen people. He was one of the prophets. He was one of the northern prophets of Israel. He had Jewish parents, he had a Jewish home in the Promised Land and he had an important job–he was a prophet. He was pure Jewish. Life for Jonah, the son of Amittai, was good.
We must never use our heritage or our past ministry successes as an excuse for not accomplishing what God wants us to accomplish here and now. Jonah loved his Jewish heritage, but he hated the Gentiles of Assyria. It is so easy to surround ourselves with our church family and with the things of God and forget about our responsibility to reach the lost, to be witnesses for Christ. That is exactly the rut of Jonah.
Friends, I hope you’re ready for this study. We will see more tomorrow!
Father, thank you for your Word. There is nothing else we can ever long for or hope for—even when our flesh says otherwise. We praise you that there's more grace where that last batch came from when we fail to see your Word for what it is. Lord, as we begin this study, may your Spirit open our hearts to be refreshed, renewed, challenged, convicted, and comforted to your glory. Jesus, eternity you came close & for eternity you remain even closer, for our Father has graciously hidden our lives in yours. Hallelujah! In your name. Amen.
Jonah 1:2 "Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”
God had a specific plan for Jonah—to go and share the message with Nineveh. And I’d like to point out three key truths related to this second verse and Jonah’s calling.
Truth #1 – Jonah was told to “Go” or “arise”. The word used here is a command that would imply that Jonah wasn’t going forward. He had, apparently, somewhat lost his impulse for moving forward. Since his famous prediction in 2 Kings 14:25, Jonah had become popular and gotten complacent. It was time for him to get moving forward again—to get up and get going. This wasn’t an option for Jonah; this was a command of God to Jonah.
How easy it is to become complacent when things are going well. It is so easy to sit back and enjoy the ride. However, we must always be moving forward for God. There are always new things to accomplish and new people to reach with the Gospel. We need to have the philosophy of Paul, forgetting things past, pressing on (Phil. 3).
Truth #2 – Jonah was commanded to go to Nineveh. Yet, of all the cities in the world and of all the people in the world, the last place on earth Jonah would want to go would be Nineveh. Nineveh was Israel’s arch-enemy.
Nineveh was a “great” city. Nineveh was so large that it took three days just to walk through it (3:3). Based upon the fact that there were 120,000 children who did not even know their right hand from their left (4:11), many estimate the population was anywhere from 600,000 to 1 million.
Truth #3 - Nineveh was extremely wicked. J. Vernon McGee said, in summary, that Nineveh was given over to cruelty and brutality, wine and women, the bottle and the brothel, the sauce and sex(Vol. 3, p. 759). This is great reminder that, in light of the command of Jesus (Matthew 28:18-20), and the need of the world, why should we stay here and not go to the nations?
What are some takeaways from verse two today?
1) Our job is to set forth clearly and accurately the Word of God.
2) God may grant us opportunities to set forth His Word to our worst enemies.
3) When God gives us opportunities to set forth His Word, no excuse will ever be good enough for not doing it.
4) There are times when our instruction ought to be aimed at people and aimed against them. 5) When wickedness reaches a certain level, God’s judgment will always come.
Father God, who is sovereign, loving, and holy, holy, and holy, we know that only you can keep us on the straight and narrow. We realize only you can keep us from going to the right or to the left, Lord. Thank you for your Spirit guiding us. We are lost without him—now and for eternity. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Jonah 1:3 "But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord."
Like a defiant toddler, Jonah just flat out said in word and deed, “Nope, Lord, I am not going to do it.” Pure, blatant rebellion. His disobedience would not only affect his ministry, but also everyone around him.
Notice also that Jonah rebelled physically and theologically.
1. Jonah’s physical rebellion. When Jonah rebelled against the Word and will of God, the first thing he did was try to get as far away as physically possible. Joppa (modern day Jaffa) was located about 50 miles southwest of Gath-hepher and approximately 35 miles to the northwest of Jerusalem. Joppa (Jaffa) is a port city that sits on the Mediterranean.
The reason Jonah went to Joppa was so that he could get on a ship that was going to Tarshish. Now Tarshish was a Gentile city located some 2000-2500 miles to the west of Joppa in southwestern Spain. It was a “far away” commercial city known for its legendary wealth (Jer. 10:9; Ezek. 27:12, 25). It was the city that was in just the opposite direction of where God wanted Jonah to go and it was the extreme opposite.
When people are running from the will of God, you can expect to see a physical defection. What I mean by that is they will get as far away as they possibly can from the convicting power of God. They will run from a godly home and church. People out of step with the will of God will run to other places as quick as they can. They will stop coming to the church that is proclaiming the truth and bringing them under conviction.
Like Jonah, let's face it: By nature we're allergic to God's grace. By choice, we run from it, preferring more controllable saviors. We should go after your friends trying to run from God's grace. When we run from God and chase after happiness we're running from the only one who can give us real and lasting happiness.
2. Jonah’s theological rebellion. You will notice that three times in these verses a phrase shows up “from the presence of the LORD” (1:3a, b, 10). This important phrase tells us that Jonah had become so far removed from sound theology that he truly believed God’s presence did not exist anywhere else in the world except in Palestine. Jonah knew full well that God was sovereign, omnipresent and omniscient (Ps. 139:7-12).
But Jonah was so out of step with God’s Word and will that he developed a false theology which said God’s presence isn’t anywhere else in the world except in Palestine, therefore if I can get out of Palestine, I can get away from the presence of the LORD. W
When people are running from the Word and will of God, their theology will be fuzzy. They will have all kinds of distorted concepts about God. For example, I know of a believer who ran from God’s Word and will in deep sin and would always talk about the love and grace of God and never mention the judgment, the justice, the wrath and the rewards of God. Their rebellion distorted their theology just like it did with Jonah.
Running from God is usually not a matter of location, it's of matter of the heart. Where in your life are you tempted to run from God?
Father, destroy our every attempt to avoid grace, hide from God's love, run from growth, remain petty, and justify bad attitudes. When we run from you, make us empty. When rebel against you, let us feel the weight of our sin. When we fall back on our promises, may you remind us that you don’t withhold your love or grace from us. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Jonah 1:4 "Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up."
Have you gotten the drift yet? No one can run from God’s Word and will and expect their life will be smooth sailing.
You can bank on the fact that someone is a true believer, in His time and in His way, God will send His storms. Peace and tranquility come to the believer who is right with God and storms come to one who is running from God.
In this case, God sent a physical storm that was so violent that the ship was about to break and experienced sailors were totally afraid (1:5). From a human perspective, this is a traumatic storm, but from a divine perspective, this is a transforming storm, for it will be this very storm that God will use to turn the rebellious prophet around.
When a true child of God is out of step with the will of God, God has His ways and can send storms to get His rebellious child’s attention. In the carnal Corinthians case in 1-2 Corinthians, God sent weakness, physical sickness, and even death. God can send financial ruin, physical catastrophes and even spiritual deadness to those who run from Him.
Let us put this in perspective. The LORD did let Jonah go so far. He let him leave Gath-hepher. He let him get to Joppa. He let him get on a ship and head out into the Mediterranean. For a while, things appeared to be smooth sailing. But then, in one instant, God said that is enough– time to bring my prophet to repentance and obedience and He sent the storm.
We may sin against God for a while and appear to be getting away with our rebellion. You may think that you are getting away unnoticed and unpunished. Don’t make the mistake of thinking God won’t step in. In His time and in one instant He will send a devastating storm into your world; He will get your attention.
This ship was out at sea and there was no escape from this storm. The timing was perfect, God was tracking down His rebellious child and there was no way out.
If God chooses to come after you in your rebellion, it will come when you least expect it and there will be no place to run or hide. His storms will make your life chaotic and rough and there will be no escape.
The good news: The divine caption over all our repentance: “But God gives more grace.” And over all our rebellion: “He who sits in the heavens laughs.”
Where are you with the Lord today?
Father, help me to never forget that sometimes Jesus gives us peace by calming the storm, sometimes by giving us peace as the storm rages on. Yet, you are the Lord of the storm. Nothing controls you. Father, if the storm is what is needed in my life today to get back on track with you, then praise you. If the storm is what I need to be reminded what you have done for me in the Gospel, then praise you. Let thy will be done, O Lord. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Jonah 1:5 "All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship."
What a truth: Your sin doesn’t just affect you! When God sends His storms to His rebellious child, it will affect all who sail with that rebellious child.
First, notice the emotional response given by the sailors. These were experienced sailors. The Phoenicians were known for their ability to build strong, stable, and secure ships. These sailors had seen many storms on the Mediterranean Sea, and there weren’t too many that would really stir them like this.
But this storm was different—it made them “afraid.” The Hebrew word used here indicates that these sailors were afraid in the sense that this was a terrible and dreadful experience. The word also seems to indicate that they knew this storm was from God. Yet, even though there was an outpouring of emotions, it didn’t change nor stop the plan of God. God was sovereignly tracking down His man and not even the fear and dread of other people would change that.
Second, notice the sailors religious response. The typical heathen religions feature a polytheistic belief system–the belief in many gods. In this case, each sailor was crying out to his own god. What a tragedy that they have a Jewish prophet on their ship and he is sleeping and not defending the doctrine of the One and only true God!
Third, notice the sailors desperate response. Again, these weren’t rookies. These were hardened men of the high seas. They knew that if they were to have a chance of surviving such a storm, they needed to lighten the ship. It was pure desperation. Sailors would only throw their cargo overboard if they believed it were truly a life/death situation. This shows us that the storm God sent was violent and it shows us that these men were desperate.
But where was Jonah? He was down sleeping soundly on the boat! What this tells us is that when a believer is running from God and when a believer is out of the will of God, he/she may initially have somewhat of a peace about him/her.
Reader, the will of God can’t be determined by an initial feeling of peace. “Beware of those who says ‘peace, peace’ when there is no peace, who hardens hearts so people ‘do not know how to blush’ at sin” (Jer. 6:14-15). If you feel a peace in your sin, know that peace is not from Christ. God’s will for us will never contradict His word to us.
Father, when the unsaved person is more up in arms about the things of you than the saved people like us, oh Father, crush our hearts! We, your people, should be the most messed up inside by what we are seeing and doing. Lord, help us to see Christ as our greatest treasure and reward. Forgive us when we, like Jonah, act in this way. You are the way, the truth, and the life--there is salvation in no other name. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Jonah 1:6 "The captain went to him and said, 'How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us so that we will not perish.”
As we continue our study of Jonah today, it worth noting here in verse six that Jonah was the only man on board who: 1. hadn’t prayed to his god and 2. who potentially could pray to the true God. What a disgrace! These godless sailors were spending more time in prayer than one who is godly, who knows the true God. The captain could not believe Jonah was sleeping, so he woke him up and told him to get praying.
James 4:17 “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”
We are often so consumed with sins of commission that we tend to ignore sins of omission.
Jonah here illustrates for us that it's easy to forget our sins of omission. Sin is any transgression of or any lack of conformity to God's law. It's what we do or fail to do. Our "sins of commission" (bad things we do) loom far larger in our minds than our "sins of omission" (beautiful things we don't do).
What are we to learn from this?
1. Just because you have the truth doesn’t mean you will live the truth. When those who profess to know God’s Word endorse what is contrary to the truth of God, error is kept in power.
2. You can be more concerned about radical (fill in the blank here) when you should be even more concerned about complacent, nominal Christianity. Jonathan Edwards said: "When Satan can keep men quiet and complacent no longer, he drives them to excesses and extravagances." The greatest trial in the Christian life is when we become callous and complacent to the trials in the Christian life.
3. Lose your gratitude for your welcome into God's kingdom and you will lose your zeal for its work and pursue the work of another kingdom. Preach the Gospel to yourself. Praise God that you have been saved. Ask for your heart not to be lukewarm.
Are you in the same boat as Jonah in your spiritual walk with the Lord today
Father, we pray that you would guard us from complacency. We pray that we who know you would be more zealous in this world than anyone else. May our hearts long to spread your glory and your will. When we get off track, shock us, stun us, and amaze us with your grace. Remind us that we don't deserve any of it. Yet, in Christ, all is possible for those who believe in you--all with your will. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Jonah 1:7 "And they said to one another, 'Come, let us cast lots, that we may know on whose account this evil has come upon us' So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah."
Proverbs 16:33 says:
“The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.”
Here in verse seven of this opening chapter of Jonah, we see this Proverbs 16 come to the surface. These hardened sailors, while seeking a new strategy to determine why the storm has come upon them in such fury, opt to cast lots. And, in no surprise whatsoever, the lot fell to Jonah—the runaway prophet!
Another great lesson for us that we can run from God but we cannot hide. God controls both the circumstances and His creation by his sovereign power. Rest will never be found in having your own way. It's only found in believing that God controls your life for his glory and your good (Rom. 8:28).
Praise God, if you're his child by faith alone in Christ alone, you're not left to your own wisdom, but blessed with the stunning wisdom of the One who created and controls it all. Yet, whatever controls my tears and fears, purse strings and heart strings, joy and job, is my functional god—no matter my creed or doctrinal beliefs. God controls, God plans, God guides, God directs, and God protects. Your life is under control because this God—the same one of Jonah and these sailors— rules everything about and around you.
(God controls even how people feel toward us. “I will begin to put the dread and fear of you on the peoples” (Deuteronomy 2:25)
I have found that the question underneath every question, worry, and wound shared in the counseling office is essentially "Is grace true?" And similarly: "Is God faithful? Is he really in control? Can I trust him?"
Yes, friend, yes there is—and we praise God for that!
Father, thank you that nothing surprises you. Thank you that when we are sometimes surprised by how things work out, we know that your hand was guiding and directing us the whole time. Lord, whatever may be ahead today, give me the strength, patience and humility to accept it. Let me not be passive, but my soul is satisfied in no one else but you alone. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Jonah 1:8 Then they said to him, “Tell us on whose account this evil has come upon us. What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?”
Did you ever play “20 questions” as a kid? Well, this might be the closest to the biblical thing you get here.
When the sailors saw that the lot had fallen to Jonah, they immediately started asking him questions. They wanted to know his perspective as to the reason for this calamity. They wanted to know his occupation. They wanted to know his origin, his place of residency, and his nationality.
What all of these questions tell us is that Jonah had certainly not been a prophet-witness to these men. Here was a rare Jewish prophet on board who had a true relationship with the living God of the Bible and he had kept completely quiet. These men didn’t know anything about him or his God. Jonah had kept his citizenship quiet. He had not testified of anything.
When a man is in rebellion and sin, he will never testify and witness for God. He will keep his mouth shut. He cannot be an effective witness for the Lord when he is in rebellion, so he will remain silent. Truth is, Jonah will be thrown overboard and leave these sailors with a totally distorted concept of God and salvation.
The early church father and theologian, Augustine, well has said: “If you are silent, be silent out of love. If you speak, speak out of love.” It is a sacred privilege to follow Jesus, "the faithful witness" (Rev 1:5), in this world of lies, spin and hoopla. He levels with us. Yet, as Augustine points out, we must peak truth and people will believe you when you say you love them. Love people and they'll believe you when you must tell them the truth.
Where are you with this today?
Father, how can we keep from signing of your love? How can we not but speak of the glorious riches of Christ that have been imputed into us? Lord, as we see Jonah today, we pray that we are not passive in sharing your Gospel because the times aren't right. Remind us that there is never a good time - but we should be ready to speak in season and out of season. Father, let us fear you more than we fear man. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Jonah 1:9 And 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.”
After getting “grilled” on several levels by the sailors, we learn that Jonah told these men two things in this verse:
1) He told them he was a Hebrew (1:9a). Non-Israelites knew the Israelites by the term “Hebrew” (Gen. 40:15; Ex. 1:19; I Sam. 4:6, 9; 14:11). When Jonah used this term, these sailors would have realized this is one who is from Palestine who worships a God who has done many powerful and miraculous things.
2) He told them he feared the LORD God (1:9b). It is interesting that Jonah identifies the LORD God as the LORD God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land. It is very clear that Jonah did not really believe he could flee from the presence of God. Apparently, this storm had brought him back to a true theological reality. He knew that he could not run from the presence of the Lord, because this was the LORD God of heaven who made all the sea and all the dry land.
As I have pondered how to apply this, it has been a great reminder, first off, that no one by virtue of their skin color, ethnic heritage, language or nationality is untouchable to God. That makes them touchable to us too. There may have been some repulsiveness from Jonah to these sailors—if not only because they were not Jews.
Second, corporate worship every Lord’s Day is designed to remind you that your hope isn't found in your heritage or performance, but in the grace of your Savior. "Heritage" must not be allowed to segregate the Body of Christ. Paul considered this worthy of confrontation (Gal 2:11-21). And, third, Christians are defined not by our heritage, but by our mission; not by our blood, but by His. The apostle Paul lost his heritage, his ethnic superiority, his very self-image, and he didn't care, because he gained Christ (Phil 3).
Have you allowed your “status” as a Christian to prevent you from opening your mouth to speak the Word of God in the Gospel to others?
Father, thank you that our faith is founded not on our heritage, but all by grace in your Son. Help us to be faithful in evangelism to all those around us. Lord, let people not have to die without knowing who you are - and may we be the faithful witnesses of such. Lord, give us truth to answer the hard questions about our faith. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Jonah 1:10 Then the men were exceedingly afraid and said to him, “What is this that you have done!” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them.
Jonah told these men he was running from God and from His presence. What a humiliating thing for Jonah to have to do, to admit he was a Hebrew running from the will of God and the Word of God.
There is no doubt that these men believed Jonah. When he spoke, they sensed he was telling them the truth. As we can see, there are two ways the sailors responded:
Way #1 - They responded emotionally. 1:10a
The men became “extremely frightened.” The thing that added an extra dimension to the fear was the realization that the God of the universe was behind this storm. Prior to this, the sailors were afraid (1:5), but it was the realization that the God of the heaven and earth was specifically causing the storm that made them “extremely frightened.” The Hebrew text indicates the fear of these men had been taken to a whole new level. When an earthquake, or hurricane or tornado comes to an area, everyone is afraid. But once it is revealed that it is a direct judgment of God, fear takes on a whole new dimension. For example, during the Tribulation when cosmic calamities hit and people realize these are judgments of God, they are so afraid that they literally ask mountains to fall on them (Rev. 6:15-16).
Way #2 - They responded verbally. 1:10b-11
Primarily, there were two verbal responses these sailors made to Jonah, both of which are in the form of a question. These men cold not believe that Jonah, a Hebrew prophet, could run from God. These sailors can’t believe Jonah could do such a stupid thing–run from the LORD God and put all of them in jeopardy.
J. Vernon McGee said when these sailors were asking these questions, Jonah must have turned three or four different shades of red. He must have been totally humiliated and embarrassed that lost heathen sailors could rebuke him.
Don't underestimate what you can do by simply speaking the truth. And never let facts get in the way of speaking your truth. The gospel is the difference between speaking the truth in love and imposing my opinions with gusto.
Father, sometimes our sin surprises even the hardest of people. Father, thank you that the gospel is true. We'll neither shock nor surprise you today. You love us as we are, not as we should or shall be. Lord, nothing is a surprise to you, a problem for you, a mistake by you, or whatever else. Nothing is impossible for you. So, Lord, when others hear of your power, may I be faithful to share with them your power—especially the power of the Gospel. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Jonah 1:11 Then they said to him, “What shall we do to you, that the sea may quiet down for us?” For the sea grew more and more tempestuous.
Here is the question of what the sailors should do to Jonah now comes up.
There is manifested in this question a kind of respect for this rebellious man of God. They did not try to solve the problem themselves, but they knew if anyone had an answer as to how to get out from the judgment of God, it would be a true prophet of God.
These men did not know the God of the Bible. They did not know about Him tracking people down. They did not know about judgment and, as we shall see, they certainly didn’t know anything about grace. But they did know that they didn’t have the answer to this dilemma, so they asked Jonah what to do (and we will see his answer tomorrow).
Are these sailors trying to save themselves, or is there a real concern for Jonah? So far, all that Jonah should have been the sailors have demonstrated. I believe, although these men don’t know the Lord, there is an overwhelming sense that they do care (see how they rowed in verse 13).
What a reminder for us that to please God isn't to appease God. It's the obedience of love we offer Him, because we live in God's permanent favor and delight. The difference between trying to appease the Lord and knowing you please him is the gospel. Do you see that difference?
God's wrath is not appeased by a bribe. His wrath is appeased by the blood of his Son. And praise God that in the Gospel this has occurred!
Father, please bring your peace to bear upon those who've been dealing with restless-heart syndrome all night. Please supersize our contentment in Christ, minimize our irritation with people; and maximize our trust in our Father. On your schedule, all things will be beautiful and all things will be made new. Make your time frame ours. Please, Lord. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Jonah 1:12 He said to them, “Pick me up and hurl me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you, for I know it is because of me that this great tempest has come upon you.”
Here’s imponderable repentance: “Pick me up and hurl me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you.”
Jonah’s response to the men was that they should pick him up and throw him overboard. This certainly was one option, but there was also another. According to Leviticus chapter 5, Jonah could have fallen down before God, confessed his sin, asked God to calm the storm, gone back to Joppa and on to Nineveh. Jonah could have appealed to the God of grace to give him another chance to obey and God would have, by virtue of His own Word.
However, Jonah was in such a state of rebellion that he would rather die than to go to Nineveh to preach. Think for a moment the message he is sending to these lost sailors. He is informing them, by his own request, that God can only be appeased by his death. But God’s grace could have been demonstrated by his repentance.
Jonah would rather be thrown overboard and drown than go to Nineveh to preach. He would rather commit suicide than witness. He was a troubled, rebellious prophet totally out of step with the Word and will of God.
Christian, you aren’t entitled to trouble-free, pain-free life. Embracing this will ease the collision between expectation and reality in your life today. This certainly where Jonah was.
And, finally, remember: Jonah not only got angry when God had mercy on Nineveh (4:1), he also was ready to drown for pagan sailors (1:12). Your life can communicate many things. Make sure, by God’s strength, grace, and Spirit, you seek to aim to glorify God in all things (1 Cor. 10:31).
Father, show us how to work and fight for one another's hearts, marriages, freedom, and joy in Christ—and for those without Christ. Father, may your steadfast love, Jesus' beauty, and the Spirit's witness to our sonship, be COMPELLING in our lives today. For the righteousness of your Son, the truth of your Word, the witness of your Spirit, and the fellowship of your people, we thank you today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Jonah 1:13 Nevertheless, the men rowed hard to get back to dry land, but they could not, for the sea grew more and more tempestuous against them.The sailors tried to resolve the storm by rowing.
These sailors did not want to throw a man overboard. So, their first response is to try harder to row the boat to shore. But their best human efforts could not stop the judgment of God.
When God’s judgment comes, man’s best human efforts and best human motives won’t stop it. Yet, the Lord used Jonah's disobedience to bring others to the reality of His presence and salvation. They were forever changed (1:13-16).
Do you proclaim the gospel to unbelievers with a broken heart or a clinched fist? Are you better known for preaching the gospel to unbelievers or for arguing with believers? Believers should be ashamed when unbelievers show more concern and compassion than they do. Practical help for unbelievers without a LONGING and INTENT that it lead to relief from everlasting suffering is not love.
A sign you're growing in grace: You don't jump to conclusions about people. You stroll into understanding with compassion. Unbelievers aren't impressed by our doctrine. What they look for is beauty in community. They have the right to do so.
The god of this world has blinded the eyes of unbelievers, so he spends most his time trying to take us down. Some unbelievers must be reached outside the walls of the church building, where people live, work, study and play. Pray for unbelievers with the same constancy and passion with which you would want others to have prayed for you before you were made alive.
Father, you have had compassion and mercy on my soul. For that, I am forever thankful. My soul is satisfied in you alone. Let me never forget that this extends to all people everywhere--regardless of race, religion, or background. Let the love you have shown me be manifest in how I love others. Not in some "lovey-dovey-Hollywood way"---but according to the Bible. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Jonah 1:14 Then they cried out to the LORD, "Please, LORD, do not let us die for taking this man's life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, LORD, have done as you pleased."
These men were no longer praying to their false “god.” They were now praying to the true God of the Bible. This whole experience has caused them to turn to the living and true God. Specifically, they asked God not to destroy them because they were going to throw this man overboard.
Now, keep in mind these men are responding to what Jonah (himself) has told them to do. They don’t realize Jonah can repent and stop this storm. All they know is God is tracking down Jonah and he told them they needed to throw him overboard. God, through His sovereignty, has stepped, via storm, into the world of these heathen sailors. And He has made things so miserable for them that they are now forced not only to acknowledge Him, but to cry out to Him.
It was said of pastor-missionary John Gaddie, who served on a remote specific island, that “when he landed in 1848 there were no Christians here; when he left in 1872 there were no heathen.”
Man's sentence on sinners can't compare to God's eternal sentence. Vengeance is God's. For now, we pray to God for the salvation of all men. Pray for the Spirit's power and for salvation and repentance. Please pray for the men, women, and children of the entire world. Look into their faces. Plead for their salvation and their peace before the throne of God.
Remember: Every Christian and church is like a car out of alignment, turning inward. We drift from evangelism and mission. We need focus to be faithful. Pray we would be more faithful in evangelism and see more converted.
Father, we thank you that conversion is your work. We thank you that as these pagan sailors demonstrate, the ability to come to you is only through a correct understanding of your character and work. Father, thank you that Jesus alone saves us – it is no by anything we can be or bring to the table. Help us to be faithful to pray for, speak to, and live in front the Gospel of those without your Son today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.