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John Brown :: Jonah 1:1-3

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A. This morning we begin the study of the book of Jonah!

1. This little book is only 4 chapters long, but filled with spiritual truths!

2. There has also been more controversy over this little book more than any other in the Bible.

a) The bottom line is that critics have a hard time with the miracles of the Lord.

(1) Therefore, any book that contains miracles, they try to explain away.

(2) They just can't get their "brain" around Jonah being swallowed by a great fish and burped up on the shore of Nineveh.

(a) But the reality is that the "core" of the book of Jonah isn't about a fish at all.

(b) It is about (1) the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

(c) It is about (2) salvation by faith not works.

(d) It is about (3) God's unstoppable grace.

(e) It is about (4) the Lord's faithfulness - even when we are unfaithful.

(f) It is about (5) the fact that the Lord is good all of the time!

(g) And it is about (6) Jehovah being the Lord of the Gentiles as well as the Jews!

(i) Is it any wonder that critics have tried to discredit it and explain the miracles away??

(a) To accept it a divinely inspired would mean that they would have to accept the spiritual truths contained within also!

b) Lest you think that there is no historical evidence for the book of Jonah or even the man Jonah, let me give you some scriptures to back it up:

(1) 2Kin 14:23-25 (NASB) In the fifteenth year of Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah, Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel became king in Samaria, [and reigned] forty-one years. 24 And he did evil in the sight of the Lord; he did not depart from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel sin. 25 He restored the border of Israel from the entrance of Hamath as far as the Sea of the Arabah, according to the word of the Lord, the God of Israel, which He spoke through His servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet, who was of Gath-hepher.

(a) History proves that Jeroboam was a real king and he ruled over the real nation of Israel for 41 years. Hamath and Arabah were real places and we see from this record - Jonah was also very real!

3. Jonah was a prophet, yet the book of Jonah does not contain prophecy in the traditional sense.

a) This book is a narrative. Jonah tells us of an event that took place in his life and how he responded to that event.

II. JONA 1:1-2 (NASB) The word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai saying, 2 "arise, go to Nineveh the great city, and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before me."

A. This is the same Jonah mentioned in 2 Kings Chapter 14 - Jonah the son of Amittai!

1. He makes it very that it was the Lord's voice that he heard and the message was equally as clear, 2 "Arise, go to Nineveh the great city."

2. Indeed it was a great city and at the time Jonah is called to go there - it is in its prime!

a) Nineveh (located on the Tigris River) was built by Nimrod and was the capital city of the great Assyrian nation.

b) You may remember that the walls around the city were almost the size of a 10-story building - some 100 feet high.

c) The width, at the top of these walls was close to 40 feet - that would be the equivalent of a 2-lane highway.

(1) It has been said that you could run to fully equipped chariots side-by-side with room to spare - on the top on these walls.

(a) Nineveh was indeed a great city!

(i) But as with many "great cities" - sin seems to grow with the wealth and opulence, and that is the real reason the Lord wants Jonah to go to Nineveh.

(ii) The Lord wanted Jonah to cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me."

B. This would seem a simple task for a man dedicated to the Lord and called as His prophet - wouldn't you think?

1. Oh, how naïve we can be concerning the things of the Lord and even serving the Lord!

a) Why is it that we assume that everything the Lord asks us to do is going to be "easy?"

b) Let's be honest, isn't there "something" that lies within each child-of-God that believes if we are in the will of the Lord and doing what He requires of us that there will be no pain involved - only blessing?

(1) So, surely this prophet of the Lord knows that and will be quick to do the Lord's will. Right?

III. JONA 1:3 (NASB) But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare, and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.

A. When Jonah hears what Lord wants him to do, he packs up and leaves his hometown in the Northern Kingdom of Israel and heads south to Joppa and buys a one-way ticket to Tarshish - which is on the southern coast of Spain! It was the jumping-point to the West!

1. The only problem with that is that Nineveh was east! So, Jonah was heading as far in the other direction as he could possibly get - away from Nineveh and away from the will of God!

2. Verse 3 tell us that he was trying to flee "from the presence of the Lord."

a) Not very smart for a "man of God".

b) Not very spiritual for a man dedicated to serving the Lord!

c) All in all, not a very mature thing to do for one wanting to do the Lord's will.

(1) As we will discover in our studies of the book of Jonah:

(a) We may be able to run from "the will of God",

(b) But we can never run from the presence of the Lord!

B. Why would Jonah run? What was it about this request from the Lord that made it so difficult for Jonah to obey? Why was he willing to forfeit his relationship with the Lord rather than go to Nineveh?

1. He hated the Ninevites! When it came right down to it - he didn't care if they were saved or not! I would even go so far as to say that it is most likely that he DID NOT WANT THEM SAVED!

a) Have you ever "hated" anyone so much that you didn't want anything good to happen in his or her lives?

b) Jonah had good reason to hate the Ninevites. The Assyrians were a barbarous nation!

(1) One of the many things they were noted for was taking a prisoner and burying him in the desert sand up to his neck. They would them place a leather band through his tongue and stretch it out so the man could not swallow and leave him there in the desert sun to die.

(a) It is said that most would go mad before they died.

(2) The Assyrian armies traveled with their families and were described as a "plague of locusts" as they descended upon a city.

(a) History has it that entire cities would commit mass suicide rather than fall into their sadistic hands.

(3) Assyria had made several attacks upon Israel and it is very possible that Jonah had experienced their brutality first-hand!

(a) It was "standard operating procedure" for the Assyrians to kill all the men and children and rape and take captive all the women of a city.

(i) IF, and I say IF, Jonah had lost someone he loved - the Lord's request would be easily and understandably difficult for Jonah to obey.

2. Jonah was willing to let his hatred of the Ninevites get in the way of his relationship with the Lord!

a) He deliberately chose to be the "prodigal" rather than the "prophet"!

b) In other words, when his will ran opposite of the Lord's will - he ran in the opposite direction of the Lord.

(1) Obedience seems so "godly" when it's easy and so "unreasonable" when it is not!


A. I would imagine that Jonah found a surplus of tickets for the ship bound to Tarshish!

1. He probably found them "discounted" when he got there.

2. Now he is aboard ship and headed for his Mediterranean cruise - everything is "smooth-sailing."

a) Only one problem - he is out of the will of God!

(1) We must be careful as children of the Lord to interpret "smooth-sailing" and "discount prices" as God's will.

(a) That kind of thinking could put us on a ship to nowhere.

(2) Likewise, we must be careful not to interpret difficulty or hardship as being out of the will of the Lord!

(a) I would like to remind you of those dear saints that have gone before us: Hebr 11:36-38 (NASB) and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated 38 ([men] of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.

(b) I know this is a very difficult statement to actually live - but it is better to suffer in the Lord's will than to book a Mediterranean cruise out of His will!

Hosea 4-14 ← Prior Section

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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