1 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” 3 But Jonah rose 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, away from the presence of the Lord. 4 But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up. 5 Then the mariners were afraid, and each cried out to his god. And they hurled the cargo that was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone down into the inner part of the ship and had lain down and was fast asleep. 6 So the captain came and said to him, “What do you mean, you sleeper? Arise, call out to your god! Perhaps the god will give a thought to us, that we may not perish.” (Jonah 1.1-6, ESV)
Memory Verse: “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me” (Jonah 1.2, ESV)
Jonah was a prophet who lived during the time of king Jeroboam II (about 793-753 B.C.). He was a real person, although many have suggested he was a fictional character because he was swallowed by a fish. However, Jonah is mentioned in the book of II Kings 14.25 and Jesus Christ referred to Jonah as a historical person (Matthew 12.39-41).
There is no author listed for the book of Jonah, however, when we read this short book, it becomes very evident that only Jonah could have written the narrative we find within its pages. One commentator exclaims, “It reads like an honest down-to-earth confession of a man, who—under God’s discipline—discovered his own weaknesses and prejudices, and passes on the lessons he has learned from that experience for the benefit of his readers.”
We find Jonah in the last chapter still under God’s discipline, still in a state of shock about the distasteful self-truths God has revealed to him. As we read this book, we too must come to the understanding of how we can hold prejudices against people, that affect our ability to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with them. Thereby, we must closely examine ourselves through God’s eyes so we might remove any pretenses or defenses we have created to keep us from being obedient to the call of God.
Over the next couple of weeks lessons we will look at how Jonah encountered God, his reaction to God’s call on his life, God’s reaction to Jonah, and finally Jonah’s obedience to God, and anger at God’s forgiveness. In all of this we will see how we should and should not react to God, we will discuss some better ways, and how we might rejoice when God calls us into His service even when it is to some place we do not want to go.
One point of encouragement before we begin, over the course of these lessons, read Jonah each day. It is only four (4) short chapters. It should not take any of us very long to read, and it will help give us a deeper understanding into Jonah’s life, to why he ran from his call, and why he hated the Ninevites. We will have various scriptures as memory verses from Jonah to help us have a broader picture of Jonah and what God was trying to teach him. So, let us begin.
The Word of the Lord came to Jonah—This expression ‘The Word of the Lord’ means God had spoken directly to Jonah, and Jonah did not make up what he was about to tell everyone. Of course, what we find in the pages of Jonah, he would not have made up, because of his hatred for the people of Nineveh. Jonah would never had told himself, to arise and go to Nineveh, because of all the wickedness those people had done to the Israelites.
The Ninevites “represented an anti-God culture and world system which leads men and nations in their pride and arrogance to think they can dethrone God and deify man.” They were very much like the people Paul wrote about to the Church at Rome in the book of Romans, when he said;
For His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what He has made. As a result, people are without excuse. For though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their thinking became nonsense, and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man, birds, four-footed animals, and reptiles. Therefore God delivered them over in the cravings of their hearts to sexual impurity, so that their bodies were degraded among themselves. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served something created instead of the Creator, who is praised forever. •Amen. This is why God delivered them over to degrading passions. For even their females exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. The males in the same way also left natural relations with females and were inflamed in their lust for one another. Males committed shameless acts with males and received in their own persons the appropriate penalty of their error. And because they did not think it worthwhile to acknowledge God, God delivered them over to a worthless mind to do what is morally wrong. They are filled with all unrighteousness, evil, greed, and wickedness. They are full of envy, murder, quarrels, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, arrogant, proud, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, and unmerciful. Although they know full well God’s just sentence—that those who practice such things deserve to die—they not only do them, but even applaud others who practice them (Romans 1.20-32, HCSB).
So, God called out to Jonah to go; He said, “Arise” (vs. 2). God wanted Jonah, no one else to go to this wicked city and preach to it, to tell the people they had a choice, repent or die. He called Jonah and no one else. Sometimes God is only calling ‘you’ to go, to speak to a specific group of people or to one person. We like to give the task to someone else however, God has given it to ‘you’ what are ‘you’ going to do?
Lord I know how I can be, not listening to Your call in my life. Not wanting to do what You ask me to do. Lord help me to listen for Your Word in my life, and to be obedient to all You ask of me. Lord I need an ear to hear Your voice in all the noise of the world and a quiet mind to understand what it is You want me to do. Lord give me the courage to obey and the boldness to share Your gospel message with all I come into contact with each and every day. Thank You for Your Son’s sacrifice on the cross, and His loving gift of eternal life. All these things I pray in Christ’s precious name, Amen.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jon 1:1–6). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
 Williams, P. (2003). Jonah—Running From God: An Expositional Commentary (p. 6). Epsom, Surrey: DayOne.
 Williams, P. (2003). Jonah—Running From God: An Expositional Commentary (p. 12). Epsom, Surrey: DayOne.
 The Holy Bible: Holman Christian standard version. (2009). (Ro 1:20–32). Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers.
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