Jonah – Chapter 4

Chapter 3 left with God relenting from destroying Nineveh because they all repented.

Verse 1 – But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry.

Why was Jonah angry? Because Jews didn’t want to share God’s message with the Gentile nations. They had forgotten their original purpose as a nation chosen by God. They were to bring the message of salvation to all other nations. Who are we to pick and choose whom this glorious message goes to?

Verse 2 – So he prayed to the Lord an said, “Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm.

Can you even imagine withholding the message of Christ because you don’t like that person or want them to be saved? How truly hateful is that? Jonah has a problem that goes deep!

It’s no different when I see people heading for the exit doors when the pastor gives the invitation for those to come to Christ to come forward. They leave because they don’t care! There is no difference.

Verse 3 – “Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live!”

“O my goodness!” They repented, so just kill me now”, says Jonah.

Verse 4 – Then the Lord said, “Is it right for you to be angry?”

Jonah doesn’t even answer God. Wow! What an attitude.

Verse 5 – So Jonah went out of the city and sat on the east side of the city. There he made himself a shelter and sat under it in the shade, till he might see what would become of the city.

In other words: Jonah didn’t answer God, he just walked off to see if God was going to destroy the city or relent.

Verse 6 – And the Lord God prepared a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be shade for his head to deliver him from his misery. So Jonah was grateful for the plant.

God could have destroyed Jonah for his defiant anger, but instead was tender and caring. Lesson: God’s harsh judgment is reserved for those who persist in rebellion.

Verse 7 – But as morning dawned the next day God prepared a worm, and it so damaged the plant that it withered.

Verse 8 – And it happened, when the sun arose, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. Then he wished death for himself, and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.”

Verse 9 – Then God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?” and he said, “It is right for me to be angry, even to death!”

Jonah was angry that a plant withered, but he was also angry that God relented on destroying the people of Nineveh.

Verse 10 – But the Lord said, “You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night.

Verse 11 – “And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left, and also much livestock?”

That’s it. No answer from Jonah, nothing. So what happened to Jonah? I’m thinking his life as a prophet is over. He was defiant, rebellious, ungrateful, and stubborn. But yet God showed him mercy. We can all learn from this story of Jonah, and its pretty simple: Do what God tells you to do when He tells you to do it, and do it with a respectful and grateful heart!

 

 

 

 

 

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Jonah – Chapter 3

Verse 1 – Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying,

Verse 2 – “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you.”

Some people may feel as though they can’t serve God because of past mistakes, but serving God is not an earned position. No one is truly and perfectly qualified. The Lord equips us after the calling. What we do is pursue it.

Verse 3 – So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, a three day journey in extent.

Verse 4 – And Jonah began to enter the city on the first days walk. Then he cried out and said, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”

Scripture shows that Jonah preached “one time.” Does this look a little half-hearted? Did God only tell him to say that one sentence? The district of Nineveh was about 30 to 60 miles across. You would think he would have started preaching as he walked those miles so everyone could hear. Nope!

Verse 5 – So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them.

Verse 6 – The word came to the king of Nineveh; and he arose from his throne and laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes.

Some people accept God’s message the first time they hear it, while others wait until they have hit rock bottom. And still there are those that will never listen and never turn, but this king listened and turned towards God.

Verse 7 – And he caused it to be proclaimed and published throughout Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, “Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; do not let them eat, or drink water.

Verse 8 – “But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands.

Verse 9 – “Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?”

Jonah’s one sentence message gave no indication that if they repented that God would relent. The king says, “Who knows, He might!” It was worth a try. I believe Jonah had more to say about them repenting, but he didn’t say it because he truly didn’t want them to be saved. Jonah only wanted the harsh side of the message to reach them, not the grace and mercy shown by God.

Verse 10 – Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.

How sad to look at the lost and just say, “You are going to die one day and go to hell for all eternity,” and stop there. Why not finish the message by telling them that there is a God that died for their sin and can wash them clean of all sin with forgiveness and mercy from on high. Yes people need to know that without God they will spend eternity without him, but don’t ever forget to start, by telling them they have not went too far to be forgiven and can be saved!

 

Jonah – Chapter 2

Chapter 1 ended with Jonah being swallowed by a big fish. Can you imagine how bad and how dark it must have been? Sometimes we go to a place where its dark and smelly in our own lives before we come to our senses.

The Prayer of Jonah

Verse 1 – Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the fishes’ belly.

Verse 2 – And he said: “I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction, and He answered me. “Out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and You heard my voice.

Verse 3 – For You cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the floods surrounded me; all Your billows and Your waves passed over me.

Jonah had thought he would surely drown, but he was still conscious and started crying out to God, but look what he said. Instead of saying, “God, You are right! I was disobedient and didn’t want to follow You to Nineveh. I’m sorry and if you save me I will do what is right.” But what he actually said sounded more like, “Look what You did and look where I am now!” He doesn’t sound real sorry for disobeying God to me at all.

Verse 4 – Then I said, ‘I have been cast out of Your sight; yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.’

Verse 5 – The waters encompassed me, even to my soul; the deep closed around me; weeds were wrapped around my head.

Verse 6 – I went down to the moorings of the mountains; the earth with its bars closed behind me forever; yet You have brought up my life from the pit, O Lord, my God.

Verse 7 – “When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord; and my prayer went up to You, into Your holy temple.

I still don’t hear any sincerity in this prayer. But if you’ve noticed, God hasn’t said anything. How bad does it have to get before some will wake up and realize that if God brought you to it, only He can get you through it!

Verse 8 – “Those who regard worthless idols forsake their own mercy.

Verse 9 – But I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord.

Verse 10 – So the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.

Maybe Jonah was grateful for God saving his life, but he just doesn’t sound as grateful as I would have been for God saving me after being in a fish 3 days. I lived ungrateful for a long time in my life and I can’t let a day go by now, that I don’t praise Him and thank Him for everything.

 

 

 

The Book of Jonah – Introduction and Chapter 1

Introduction: Jonah ministered after the time of Elisha and just before the time of Amos and Hosea. Israel under Jeroboam II was enjoying a period of prosperity. Jonah is commanded by God to go to Nineveh to preach repentance. Nineveh is northeast, but Jonah headed to Tarshish, which was west.

The story of Jonah is one of the clearest demonstrations of God’s love and mercy for all mankind in the entire Scripture. Unlike other Old Testament books, it revolves around a Gentile nation. God is concerned for the Gentiles as well as for His covenant people Israel. But Jonah is a reluctant messenger who does not want to proclaim God’s message for fear that the Assyrians will respond and be spared by the compassionate God of Israel.

The Disobedience to the First Call

Verse 1 – Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,

Verse 2 – “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.”

At that time, Nineveh was the metropolis of the Assyrian monarchy, great in wealth, power, and dominion. It was a great city, and yet a heathen city, without the knowledge and worship of the true God.

Verse 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.

Jonah didn’t want to share God’s message of love and forgiveness, because he didn’t want the Gentile nation to repent. All of Israel felt this same way about he Assyrians Gentiles. This reminds us of praying for someone whom we don’t like very much, Someone who has been hateful and mean to us. We don’t want to do it.

Verse 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.

Verse 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.

Sin brings storms and tempest into one’s life, into the family, into churches, and nations. Jonah was fast asleep while a storm was raging above him. Apparently his conscience didn’t bother him. An absent of guilt is not always a sign that we are doing right. We cannot measure obedience by our feelings. Instead we measure by what God’s word says and His standards.

Verse 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 parish.”

Verse 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 lots fell on Jonah.

This storm must have seemed peculiar to the men. I’m sure they had been in many storms before, but somehow this storm was odd enough that they thought it might be a person causing it, so they cast lots. The crew relied on their superstitions, but God let the lot fall on Jonah.

Verse 8 – Then they said to him, “Please tell us! For whose cause is this trouble upon us? What is your occupation? What is your country? And of what people are you?”

Verse 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.”

Worship is literally “fear.” Fear of God in the Old Testament is the respect that a person has for God, causing him to turn from evil and obey God’s commandments (Genesis 22:12; Job 1:8; 28:28; Proverbs 8:13). “I fear the Lord Jehovah, that is the God I worship, the God I pray to, even the God of heaven, the sovereign Lord of all!” says Jonah.

Verse 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.

Today we would have said to Jonah, “Are you crazy? You know you can’t run from God!” You can’t seek God’s love and run from Him at the same time. You cannot say you truly love God and go in the opposite direction with your life.

Verse 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.

Verse 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.”

Would you look at that answer Jonah gave. He was willing to give his life to save the crew, but not willing to save the lives of the Assyrians with a message of repentance. His hatred for the Assyrians had clouded his judgment.

Verse 13 – Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring the ship to land, but they could not, for the sea continued to grow more tempestuous against them.

Even though the crew knew this was Jonah’s fault, they showed compassion to him, more so than Jonah had for the Gentiles of Assyria. Believers should be ashamed of themselves when unbelievers show more concern and compassion than they do for someone’s well-being.

Verse 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. ”

In fleeing from God, Jonah had unknowingly converted this entire ship of Gentile sailors to pray to the One True God.

Verse 15 – So they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging.

Verse 16 – The men feared (worshiped) the Lord  exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows.

God is able to use our mistakes, hardships, or crises, to help others to come to know Him. It may be painful, but admitting our sins can be a powerful example to those who don’t know God. These pagan sailors did what the nation of Israel refused to do – worship and serve the Lord.

Verse 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.

Sometimes we have to hit rock bottom before we come to our senses. But whether we choose to obey God or not, He will find someone who is willing to do what we might refuse to do.