Good morning and God bless you all:
Last night I read the short book of Jonah for about the 12309329 time, but for the first time I actually realized what was going on. The book isn’t just about human disobedience, and Jonah being punished for not going to Nineveh. That sounds all well and good, but before you realize what’s going on…please put things in perspective.
- First, let’s cover what and where Nineveh is:
- Nineveh would be in today’s world Iraq.
- The king city of sin.
- Slaves were tortured to no end.
- These men were the equivalent of terrorists.
- Not to get too graphic: Often times people of Nineveh would cut the hands off of their slaves and literally shake their cut-off hand before they killed the slave, as the ultimate insult.
- Women and Children would be raped for no-reason.
- I could list more horrible things about Nineveh here, but you get the point, it’s morally corrupt and disgusting.
So it’s pretty much like Jesus calling you into Ministry and sending you to North Korea and witness to their leader. Being an American, you’re going to do everything possible to stay away from that opportunity, because you fear for your life! So now that you understand Jonah wasn’t just going to the next city, he was going to about the worst place possible on the Earth.
Btw, does this sound familiar? A man’s calling was to come to the Earth and witness to all who sin? (Jesus maybe) Keep this is mind as I go forward.
Jonah is really struggling here, so he ran from the Lord. He was on this ship and the other members understood the reason the horrible storm was upon them was due to Jonah running. So they told God not to spare them for what they were about to, which was throw him overboard. So God listened and in Jonah 1:17 – “God provided a fish to swallow Jonah, where he remained in the belly for 3 days and 3 nights.” This verse consequently ends the first book of Jonah. This book was about escaping the worldly realm. Let’s check Jonah’s next response after being swallowed by the whale.
2 1 [a]From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. 2 He said:
“In my distress I called to the Lord,
and he answered me.
From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help,
and you listened to my cry.
3 You hurled me into the depths,
into the very heart of the seas,
and the currents swirled about me;
all your waves and breakers
swept over me.
4 I said, ‘I have been banished
from your sight;
yet I will look again
toward your holy temple.’
5 The engulfing waters threatened me,[b]
the deep surrounded me;
seaweed was wrapped around my head.
6 To the roots of the mountains I sank down;
the earth beneath barred me in forever.
But you, Lord my God,
brought my life up from the pit.
7 “When my life was ebbing away,
I remembered you, Lord,
and my prayer rose to you,
to your holy temple.
8 “Those who cling to worthless idols
turn away from God’s love for them.
9 But I, with shouts of grateful praise,
will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’”
This is Jonah’s prayer to God, showing his ultimate regrets for escaping. These are powerful words, especially the last sentence. Jonah acknowledging what we know is true, Salvation ONLY comes from the Lord. Lastly, after the prayer, in Jonah 2:10 – God commanded the fish and it vomited Jonah onto dry land. Don’t miss the point here, God is giving Jonah a second chance for his repentance. God is the God of 2nd, 3rd, 4th, infinite chances.
So now Jonah is off the hook for his first attempted of escape, let’s see how he handles the next course of action!
Here’s the 3rd Book of Jonah:
1 Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.”
3 Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it. 4 Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” 5 The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.
6 When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. 7 This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh:
“By the decree of the king and his nobles:
Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. 8 But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. 9 Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”
10 When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.
First, Jonah obeyed God this time and actually took the trip to this HORRIBLE place (as described earlier) called Nineveh. Next we learn again, Nineveh is a very LARGE and populous city. Think of a city the size of Chicago or New York or LA & imagine you don’t have a car/bus/taxi to make it through the entirety of the city. It would take about three days! Fascinating enough, to prove that the sermon wasn’t the point of the message, the sermon was just summed up by one sentence. That Nineveh will over throw in 40 days. Simple enough. After listening to Jonah’s sermon, the Ninevites actually believed God and they proclaimed a fast to occur. How interesting here right? 40 days-40 nights? Sound familiar again (Jesus)? Then Jonah goes to the King where the King believes God and tells the people to fast and to urgently call upon God. Also, they give up their “evil” (unfaithful) ways and their cruelty to their slaves basically. Once God seen that the people of Nineveh were no longer being unfaithful (evil), He decided to relent and didn’t destroy the land.
Again, how familiar does this sound? Just like Jesus came to save the entire world that is cruel and unfaithful, Jonah was in the whale 3 days and 3 nights, Jesus was in the belly of the Earth 3 days and 3 nights, Jesus had 40 days in the desert; as the Ninevites had 40 days to straighten up and fast for God. Just bringing this up to bring home my point later, that there is proof this story had a correlation to Jesus.
Now, let’s look at Jonah and how he responded to such compassion of “wicked” people. Let’s look at the last chapter of Jonah, chapter 4.
4:1But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. 2 He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. 3 Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”
4 But the Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry?”
5 Jonah had gone out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. 6 Then the Lord God provided a leafy plant[a] and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the plant. 7 But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the plant so that it withered. 8 When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, “It would be better for me to die than to live.”
9 But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?”
“It is,” he said. “And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.”
10 But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11 And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”
38 Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.”
39 He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here.
To bring things full-circle, Jesus is asked here by the Pharisees and teachers of the law, that they want some sort of sign from them. Jesus responds and explains that the sign was from the prophet Jonah, as I mentioned earlier Jonah spent 3 days and 3 nights in the belly of a fish, Jesus spends 3 days and 3 nights in the heart of the Earth. Now something GREATER than Jonah is here, being Jesus.
I’ve never looked at the book of Jonah like this before, but as I’ve been doing more studying and more researching, things like this came to my mind. So I wanted to give you an opportunity to look at the innocent story of Jonah told by the Veggie Tales, and look at it in a real life sort of way. A more graphic, realistic journey that Jonah was called to make. Then how, all be it microscopically, similar is was to the journey and purpose of Jesus.
God bless you all! Have an amazing day, I pray for each and every one of you. You are truly amazing and I hope that you continue to follow in God’s Word and get everything you can out of it! God is so good!