Study of the Book of Jonah, chapter One…
Chap.1 vs 1. Jonah here is identified as a prophet. His name means “dove” and his Dad’s name means truthful or loyal.
vs. 2. Jonah receives his orders directly from the Lord. Nineveh, the capital city of the Assyrian empire. Note that God identifies it by its wickedness. A great city filled with a great wickedness. (Read note Nah. 1:1).
vs. 3. What has just been recorded here? This is the first time that a prophet did not listen and obey God’s commission. Jonah actually heads 180 degrees from the way God instructed him to go. God said go east and tell, so Jonah heads west and says nothing. Why would Jonah do such a thing? 1. Jonah hated the Ninevites and there was no way he wanted them to be saved. 2. The message was one of judgement, but Jonah knew God so if the Ninevites repented He would save them (refer to #1). 3. Jonah is a prophet in rebellion. He is much like the prodigal son in the N.T. He is running from God and God will deal with him in the fourth chapter. 4. Final reason, this was not God’s method in the Old Testament. Sending missionaries to other countries is not what God wanted. God located Israel in the middle of the then known world. All other people had to pass through the location of the temple built to the living God. The Jewish people were to witness to all. (For example, the Queen of Sheba came from the ends of the earth to Israel. Why did she come? She had heard how they worshiped and, when she got there, she found that there was an altar there for sinners. That was the thing which brought her to a saving knowledge of God. If you read the historical record, you will find that not only did she come but also the kings of the earth came to hear the wisdom of Solomon. During that brief period, Israel did witness to the world; they witnessed not by going out as missionaries but by the world coming in to them.
We are given only the one example of the Queen of Sheba in the Old Testament. In the New Testament we have the examples of one son of Ham, one son of Japheth, and one son of Shem who were converted—the Ethiopian eunuch, Saul of Tarsus, and Cornelius, the Roman centurion. Although we are given only these examples, there were literally thousands and, later, millions who were led to Christ.
vs. 4. Notice that God sent this wind, a miracle. No ordinary storm, but a ‘hurled’, ‘a mighty wind’ from the Lord. A supernatural storm very similar to the storm from Mark 4:38. In Psalms 137:7 it says, “He brings the wind out of His treasuries.” Miracle #1 of 10 found in this book, “the Lord sent out a great wind on the sea.”
vs. 5. These sailors were experienced and they knew they were facing an unusual sized and intense storm. Some believe that when a man is in sin that he will be a miserable dude. Does Jonah seem miserable? Jonah is out of the will of God and trying to get as far away as possible, but he seems quite content. These sailors are going through their “god” list and Jonah is sleeping!
vs. 6. The captain orders Jonah to do two things. 1. “Get your slag-butt up, 2. pray to your God for us to have favor, I want to cover all my bases, just in case your God is the One.” Jonah comes up on deck and sees the storm first hand.
vs. 7. When all else fails, they cast lots to determine who is responsible for this storm. Do you remember Proverbs 16:33? “The lot is cast into the lap; but the WHOLE disposing thereof is of the Lord.” Miracle #2 of 10, “the lot fell on Jonah.”
vs. 8. If Jonah talked with the crew before this, he did not say much about himself. Now, Jonah is under the interrogation spotlight and is getting grilled. Jonah is no witness for the Lord, God’s prophet, out of the will of God.
vs. 9. Jonah, under the spotlight, spills his guts and comes clean. “II am an Hebrew.” This is the name that Gentiles would know, Hebrew. The Israelites were known for worshipping one God, being monotheistic. Jonah goes on to tell them that God was the Creator of the sea and the dry land. “I fear the Lord.” What does the “fear of the Lord” mean? Psalm 19:9 tells us. It means to have a reverential trust, with a hatred of evil.
vs. 10. As a result of Jonah telling his story, the men ask, “Why hast thou done this?” Is this a question that an unsaved person could ask of us on judgement day? Or, someone that has known you for some length of time, and you never witnessed to them, of let them know that you are a Christian. This is a very big question and parallel of the story of Jonah with our individual story. Did God tell us to do something and we made a 180 the other way? This has the potential to be very embarrassing. Jonah probably was.
vs. 11. This is a difficult decision for the men and they want Jonah to make it.
vs. 12. It seems hard to understand for us, that Jonah would rather die then do what God wants him or told him what to do. He would rather die than go to Nineveh!
vs. 13.The answer to saving their lives has been given by Jonah, but just like sinful men who are presented with the Gospel, to be saved by simple faith, they try to save themselves. By guilt and pride they are driven to works of righteousness that cannot save them. So what happens? The storm continues to grow. Form a human perspective, these sailors look good, even better than Jonah. They want to save all on board and work hard to do so.
vs. 14. the hope of saving themselves is gone, when all hope is gone, they will now turn to the mercy of God. To trust in the sinless Saviour, they cry out, “Not my will, but Yours be done.” Matt. 26:39.
vs. 15. This shows the sailors who is in control of this world! Miracle #3 of 10, “the sea ceased from its raging.”
vs. 16. The”fear of the Lord” is the beginning of wisdom. What god did these men fear? The one true God of the Hebrews. The Creator of the sea. The sacrifice points to one thing, the Christ the Son of the Living God! Here is some good news from this, vows are made to the Lord. In a strange way Jonah has witnessed to these men and they believe in the one true God.
vs. 17. The type of fish is not known. The Hebrew word for whale is not used here, the Greek word for whale used in Matthew 12:40 means ‘great fish.’ The important thing to remember is that God prepared a great fish to rescue Jonah. Miracles #4 and 5 of 10 “the Lord had prepared a great fish”, “to swallow Jonah.” There is some debate as to whether Jonah was alive three days or dead for those three days.