Kid’s Corner

Kid’s Corner

Kid’s Corner
Repeated Refusals to Repent
May 28, 2017
Jonah 4:1-11

Jonah 4:1-11
(Jonah 4:1) But it greatly displeased Jonah and he became angry.
Jonah believed that the Ninevites deserved punishment for their sins, the extreme punishment of destruction; the destruction of their city and military power that threatened Israel. He became angry because it appeared that when God forgave them that they would not suffer any punishment at all. He judged God; he said God was wrong not to destroy the city, and he became angry at God for what he considered injustice. He prayed and hoped that God would at least punish the people in some way, so he thought he would watch the city and hope for the worst punishment possible.
(Jonah 4:2) He prayed to the LORD and said, “Please LORD, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity.
Jonah blamed his anger on God and even blamed God for his rebellion against God that led to his fleeing to Tarshish. He wanted the enemies of Israel destroyed for their sins and their threat to his nation. Of course, the Kingdom of Israel would not be punished or destroyed if they listened to God’s prophets and repented as the Ninevites did. He described God accurately, but he wanted no part in God relenting from sending calamity on Nineveh. Jonah totally ignored the fact that because of God’s values, God saved him despite his rebellion against God and all the sailors despite their idolatry from calamity and death on the Mediterranean Sea. Surely selfish Jonah was happy when God relented and did not cast him off forever in the sea, but that happiness soon changed to anger at God and the desire to die.
(Jonah 4:3) “Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for death is better to me than life.”
Jonah became so angry that he became totally unreasonable. He attacked God for being gracious and compassionate, patient and abounding in love, and he wanted to totally and finally sever his relationship with God by wanting God to end his life. Of course, dying would not separate him from God, because even in death he could not flee from God. He would rather die than watch God show compassion and save his enemies. By the grace of God, God did not answer his prayer, but continued His redeeming discipline of Jonah.
(Jonah 4:4) The LORD said, “Do you have good reason to be angry?”
God asks this question of all of us when we become angry. Jonah thought it was right for him to be angry with God, because he knew that God would not destroy his enemies if the Ninevites repented after he warned them of coming destruction. He did not want them warned; he did not want them to repent; he did not want God to forgive them. Furthermore, he was angry because he could not do anything to prevent God from saving them and giving them another opportunity to live – even though God gave him many opportunities to repent and return to obedience despite his attitude.
(Jonah 4:5) Then Jonah went out from the city and sat east of it. There he made a shelter for himself and sat under it in the shade until he could see what would happen in the city.
In his anger and after his answer to God, Jonah hoped that God would reconsider and at least bring some type of punishment on Nineveh. We are not told, but we can imagine Jonah sitting in the shade of his shelter and angrily and urgently praying to God to punish and not forgive the Ninevites – even thinking of different ways God could punish them effectively.
(Jonah 4:6) So the LORD God appointed a plant and it grew up over Jonah to be a shade over his head to deliver him from his discomfort. And Jonah was extremely happy about the plant.
After receiving an unsatisfactory answer or no answer at all from Jonah, because God is gracious and compassionate, once again God disciplined Jonah and began by showing him great undeserved kindness. God caused a plant to grow to shade and comfort Jonah as he watched to see what God would do. Jonah became happy about the plant, but God’s grace did not lead him to repent for his angry accusations against God and his hateful attitude toward the people of Nineveh. Jonah should have thanked God for His grace in giving him the shade, but he still refused to be on speaking terms with God.
(Jonah 4:7) But God appointed a worm when dawn came the next day and it attacked the plant and it withered.
If Jonah had repented and had begun to see and accept God’s gracious concern for him and the Ninevites, God would not have needed to take another step of redeeming discipline. Overnight, God caused a worm to kill the plant so that it withered and could no longer bless Jonah.
(Jonah 4:8) When the sun came up God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on Jonah’s head so that he became faint and begged with all his soul to die, saying, “Death is better to me than life.”
In spite of the fact that God had shown Jonah redeeming grace, Jonah still refused to admit that God was right and he was wrong in his hateful attitude toward others. Therefore, God provided a scorching hot wind and blazing sun to discipline Jonah with increasing punishment and suffering. Rather than repent and turn from his evil thoughts, Jonah wanted to die and be done with God completely – such was Jonah’s bondage to his sin and such was Jonah’s irrational prayer when he spoke to God once again.
(Jonah 4:9) Then God said to Jonah, “Do you have good reason to be angry about the plant?” And he said, “I have good reason to be angry, even to death.”
To help Jonah understand what he needed to do, God spoke to Jonah again rather than do to him what Jonah wanted God to do to the Ninevites as well as to himself: kill them. God asked Jonah a question about right and wrong so Jonah would use his reason to arrive at the correct answer. God asked a reasonable question and Jonah gave an unreasonable answer. Jonah continued to selfishly focus on himself and the plant that made him happy. He had no concern for anyone but himself and whatever made him happy. Therefore, he told God that if God would not make him happy and do what he wanted that he wanted to die – be eternally separated from God. Such was the extent of Jonah’s foolish thinking!
(Jonah 4:10) Then the LORD said, “You had compassion on the plant for which you did not work and which you did not cause to grow, which came up overnight and perished overnight.
Jonah had nothing to do with the plant but enjoy God’s free gift to him of comfort, shade, and the happiness it brought him. God had given it to him and God had taken it away, and Jonah refused to say as Job did, “Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). His only concern for the plant was the benefit he derived from it: when the benefit was taken away, he became angry with God. Jonah was self-centered, not God-centered.
Job 1:21, 21 And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.
(Jonah 4:11) “Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?”
God loved His creation. God said His creation was good (see Genesis 1). Even after Adam and Eve fell into sin God continued to love His creation, and He began the process of redeeming discipline – leading to His sending His only Son, Jesus Christ, into the world that the world might be saved (John 3:16). God is not self-centered, God is God-centered; therefore, God is gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, and abounding in love: God is love. Jonah spoke with God; Jonah knew about God’s character and obeying God, but Jonah did not truly know God. The Apostle John wrote: “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. … And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them” (1 John 4:8 & 16). Unlike Jonah, God loved and expressed His concern for the Ninevites, Jonah’s distant neighbors, and by sending Jonah to help them God planned to help all of them, including Jonah. Whether Jonah wanted to go or not, God would make sure that he went. All the Ninevites repented, and the people cared enough for their animals to have them fast too, perhaps in order to save them. The Ninevites were morally superior to Jonah in their repentance, and God chose to show His concern for all the people and animals alike. God also had compassion because the Ninevites did not know the law of God as Jonah certainly did. They did not know right from wrong, their right hand from their left hand, because morally speaking they were like little uneducated children. They did know enough to listen to Jonah’s preaching, to believe God, to pray, and to hope that God would have compassion, relent, and save them from destruction. The Book of Jonah tells us what God did with the Ninevites to save them, but the book does not tell us how God continued to discipline Jonah until he repented. God will fulfill all His plans and purposes, and God is gracious, compassionate, patient, and abounding in love.
Genesis 1, 1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
9 And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
10 And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.
11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.
12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.
14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:
15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.
16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.
17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,
18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.
19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.
21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.
23 And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.
24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.
25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.
30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.
31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
John 3:16, 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

1 John 4:8, 8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

1 John 4:16, 16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

Repeated Refusals to Repent
May 28, 2017
Jonah 4:1-11

“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?”
(Jonah 4:11). Because God had forgiven and saved the Ninevites after they had believed God and repented of their evil and violent ways, three times Jonah told God that he was so angry with God that he wanted to die. Bondage to sin leads to unreasonable thinking, strange behavior, and irrational prayers. Jonah accused God of wrongdoing because God did not do what he wanted God to do. He became so angry with God that he unreasonably wanted to be eternally separated from God through death. He even told God that he had fled from God to Tarshish because he knew God was gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, and abounding in love. He told God that he wanted to prevent God from forgiving the Ninevites. He wanted God to send calamity upon them. Perhaps we have never been as angry as Jonah, but perhaps we have come close to those feelings despite the truths we know about the character of God. God’s redeeming discipline of the Ninevites consisted of a simple warning of destruction that contained within it the seeds of hope, and the Ninevites believed God’s word and repented. In many ways throughout the Book of Jonah, God encouraged Jonah to repent of his sins: saving him from drowning, reasoning with him, and teaching him about right and wrong. Still, Jonah wanted nothing to do with God. We do not learn if Jonah ever repented from his self-centered and unforgiving attitude toward God and others; still, God used Jonah to save a great city.
Jonah 4:11, 11 And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?

Thinking Further
Repeated Refusals to Repent
May 28, 2017
Jonah 4:1-11
Name __________________________

1. When God chose to forgive the Ninevites for their sins, how did Jonah respond?

2. What kind of God is God according to Jonah?

3. Jonah was so angry that it made him unreasonable; therefore, what did Jonah tell God he wanted Him to do?

4. What did God do to Jonah after he complained to God and became angry?

5. Why was Jonah concerned about the plant? What concerned God?

Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further

1. When God chose to forgive the Ninevites for their sins, how did Jonah respond?
Jonah became angry with God and thought God had done wrong. He tried to justify his fleeing from God and traveling toward Tarshish because he wanted to prevent God from forgiving the Ninevites, knowing what kind of a Person God is, because he did not want God to do wrong and not punish them – the enemies of the Israelites.
2. What kind of God is God according to Jonah?
God is gracious, compassionate, slow to anger (patient), and abounding in love; a God who relents from sending calamity when evil people repent, and a God who answers prayer.
3. Jonah was so angry that it made him unreasonable; therefore, what did Jonah tell God he wanted Him to do?
He wanted to die (see Jonah 4:3, 8, 9).
Jonah 4:3, 3 Therefore now, O Lord, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.

Jonah 4:8, 8 And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live.

Jonah 4:9, 9 And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death.
4. What did God do to Jonah after he complained to God and became angry?
God began to apply redeeming discipline to Jonah to lead him to repent. He first did something to bless Jonah, Jonah was happy did not repent. Therefore, God took away him the blessing and Jonah became angry again. God asked Jonah questions to help see that he was sinning, and it was wrong to be angry with God, but Jonah refused to repent.

5. Why was Jonah concerned about the plant? What concerned God?
Jonah was concerned about the plant because it made him happy. He was selfish and self-centered. God was concerned about the people and animals, because He had created them, loved them, and knew how they were suffering: because they did not know their right hand from their left (right from wrong), He wanted to help and save them.

Word Search
Repeated Refusals to Repent
May 28, 2017
Jonah 4:1-11
Name ___________________________

U B Z R H S T C O N C E R N G
R I N U E Z W N G F P A D H I
E O D K Y L I X O R H N O S O
T V R M H N E R J P G T G I K
A X O Z E A E N I Y K Y G H C
N M L V R S P F T W U N K S A
O W E K T I L P J S O T B R L
I H P A W U O K Y R H G D A A
S M L O S I V M W G K E Z T M
S L R B Y D E G I A Y J L X I
A M H A N O J R D W N R E A T
P D R S U O I C A R G G P O Y
M C G S H A D E Z U O I R J N
O V P K Z O Z C P A T J P Y H
C I H U P I V D G D L B O Q V

Jonah
Angry
Wrong
Nineveh
Tarshish
Lord
Forestall
Gracious
Compassionate
God
Love
Relents
Calamity
Right
Shade
Happy
Worm
Concern

True and False Test
Repeated Refusals to Repent
May 28, 2017
Jonah 4:1-11
Name _____________________________

Circle the true or false answers. Correct the false statements by restating them.
1. When God did not destroy Nineveh, Jonah thought it was wrong and he became angry. True or False
2. Jonah said that he had fled to Tarshish because he wanted to prevent God from being gracious and compassionate toward Nineveh. True or False
3. Jonah begged God to let him go to Tarshish now that his hateful job was done.True or False
4. God told Jonah that it was okay for people to be angry with Him as long as they obeyed Him. True or False
5. The reason God did not ask Jonah any questions was because God knew all the answers already. True or False
6. Jonah found a palm tree near a spring of fresh water to rest and relax while he waited to watch Nineveh burn. True or False
7. Jonah was very happy when the Lord gave him a plant. True or False
8. Jonah was very angry after a worm ate his plant and it withered. True or False
9. While Jonah was concerned about a plant dying, God was concerned about a whole city of 120,000 people and its animals. True or False
10. Like the Ninevites, Jonah repented; and he told God he was sorry for being so angry with Him, self-centered, and selfish. True or False

Answers to the True and False Test
Jonah 4:1-11
Sunday, May 28, 2017

1. True
2. True
3. False
4. False
5. False
6. False
7. True
8. True
9. True
10. False

Prayer
O God, may Your Word ever remind us of Your love for humanity! Enable us to do all we can to take the gospel to all, without bias or prejudice. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

ADULT LESSON

 

Sunday School Lesson
May 28
Pervasive Love

Devotional Reading: Psalm 86:8-13
Psalm 86:8-13, 8 Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord; neither are there any works like unto thy works.
9 All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O Lord; and shall glorify thy name.
10 For thou art great, and doest wondrous things: thou art God alone.
11 Teach me thy way, O Lord; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name.
12 I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify thy name for evermore.
13 For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell.
Background Scripture: Jonah 4
Jonah 4
1 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry.
2 And he prayed unto the Lord, and said, I pray thee, O Lord, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.
3 Therefore now, O Lord, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.
4 Then said the Lord, Doest thou well to be angry?
5 So Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the city.
6 And the Lord God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd.
7 But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered.
8 And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live.
9 And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death.
10 Then said the Lord, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night:
11 And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?
Key Verse
Should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?—
Jonah 4:11
Lesson Aims
After participating in this lesson, each learner will be able to:
1. Summarize Jonah’s reactions to God’s sparing of Nineveh.
2. Explain why Jonah was not pleased at the success of his preaching.
3. Participate in a class project that reaches to a group having racial or cultural differences.

Introduction
A. The Fighting Deacon
He said that in his younger days he was known as “the fighting deacon.” This reputation was acquired by the fact that on two occasions in meetings of the church board he had “slugged” (his word) someone who disagreed with him. He no longer had such a violent temper, but he was almost proud of what he had done.
But anger can be a very toxic emotion. Mark Twain wrote that “anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.” Some have rationalized their outbursts of anger by saying that they lose their tempers quickly and then calm down almost immediately. Billy Sunday, a famous preacher of the past, once encountered a lady who said, “I blow up, and then it’s all over.” Sunday replied, “So does a shotgun, and look at the damage it leaves behind.”
The Bible has much to say about anger (Proverbs 29:22; Ephesians 4:31; Colossians 3:8; James 1:19, 20; etc.). The words anger or angry occur several times in Jonah 4, the text for our lesson. Jonah had a problem with anger. As the Lord worked through him to bring the people of Nineveh to repentance, God also worked with Jonah to help him overcome this problem. Anger is not sinful in and of itself (note Jesus’ anger in Mark 3:5). But irrational anger needs corrective action, and that’s what God provides Jonah in today’s lesson.
Proverbs 29:22, 22 An angry man stirreth up strife, and a furious man aboundeth in transgression.

Ephesians 4:31, 31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:

Colossians 3:8, 8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.

James 1:19, 19 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:

James 1:20, 20 For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.

Mark 3:5, 5 And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.

B. Lesson Background
Since the background material noted in the three previous lessons applies here as well, that information need not be repeated. Much of that material is very weighty, so we shall close this series with some “lighter side” distinctive facts that help to make the book of Jonah memorable.
1. Jonah is the only prophet recorded to have traveled on the Mediterranean Sea.
2. Jonah is the only prophet recorded to have outright refused to undertake a mission from God. Other prophets revealed doubt from time to time (example: 1 Kings 19:3, 14), but Jonah stands alone in his flagrant rebellion.
1 Kings 19:3, 3 And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there.

1 Kings 19:14, 14 And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.
3. When Nicodemus attempted to defend Jesus during a discussion, he was rebuked with the observation that “out of Galilee ariseth no prophet” (John 7:52). This overlooked the fact that Jonah was from Gathhepher (2 Kings 14:25), which was less than three miles northwest of Nazareth.
John 7:52, 52 They answered and said unto him, Art thou also of Galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet.

2 Kings 14:25, 25 He restored the coast of Israel from the entering of Hamath unto the sea of the plain, according to the word of the Lord God of Israel, which he spake by the hand of his servant Jonah, the son of Amittai, the prophet, which was of Gathhepher.
4. The book of Jonah, being primarily a narrative about the man, records just one predictive prophecy—a prophecy of only five words in Hebrew (Jonah 3:4, last week’s lesson).
Jonah 3:4, 4 And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.
5. The book of Jonah is the only prophetic book with miracles by God that involved the prophet personally—from the storm and the fish to the worm and the wind.
The traditional view of authorship for the book of Jonah is that Jonah himself wrote it. As he came to the end of it, he must have been greatly embarrassed about the prejudice and anger he had displayed so blatantly. Our lesson begins just after the point where God saw the repentance of the Ninevites and decided not to destroy the city (Jonah 3:10, last week’s lesson).
Jonah 3:10, 10 And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.
I. Jonah’s Pettiness (Jonah 4:1-4)
A. Reaction and Reminder (vv. 1, 2)
1. But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry.
The compassionate decision of God in Jonah 3:10 is not what the prophet wants to hear! He is very angry that his preaching results in the city’s being spared God’s destructive wrath. This is not the way a preacher would normally react when his message brings repentance by the thousands! The Lesson Background of lesson 11 explains the possible basis of Jonah’s anger.
As a bit of speculation, Jonah may wonder whether God will treat the people of his own nation likewise, should they repent when under threat of similar judgment. Historically, however, the people of Israel do not repent, in spite of the preaching of prophets (see 2 Kings 17:13, 14, 23). The sparing of Nineveh will not be repeated for Samaria a few decades later. But neither will it be repeated for Nineveh itself, as the prophet Nahum and historical records make clear.
2 Kings 17:13, 13 Yet the Lord testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets, and by all the seers, saying, Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep my commandments and my statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets.

2 Kings 17:14, 14 Notwithstanding they would not hear, but hardened their necks, like to the neck of their fathers, that did not believe in the Lord their God.

2 Kings 17:23, 23 Until the Lord removed Israel out of his sight, as he had said by all his servants the prophets. So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day.
We may also wonder exactly when Jonah is informed of God’s decision to spare Nineveh. Is it before the 40-day period of Jonah 3:4 is up, thereby implying that Jonah is displeased … exceedingly for the remainder of that period? Or do it and the other events of Jonah 4 happen at the end of the 40-day period? Scholars disagree, but the last phrase of Jonah 4:5 may indicate that the 40 days are not yet completed.
Jonah 3:4, 4 And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.

Jonah 4:5, 5 So Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the city.
2. And he prayed unto the Lord, and said, I pray thee, O Lord, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.
Jonah turns his anger into prayer, but his motivation is not to become compliant with what God has done. Instead, he seems to be trying to make God feel guilty for sending him on the mission trip to Nineveh.
How to Say It
Assyria Uh-sear-ee-uh.
Assyrian Uh-sear-e-un.
Galilee Gal-uh-lee.
Gathhepher Gath-hee-fer.
Jonah Jo-nuh.
Mediterranean Med-uh-tuh-ray-nee-un.
Nazareth Naz-uh-reth.
Nicodemus Nick-uh-dee-mus.
Nineveh Nin-uh-vuh.
Ninevites Nin-uh-vites.
Tarshish Tar-shish.
Jonah’s prayer includes an eloquent description of the great attributes of God. In that regard, the prayer mirrors Exodus 34:6 as Jonah affirms that God is gracious … and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness. These were Jonah’s conclusions before he fled before unto Tarshish (Jonah 1:3). Able to list God’s outstanding characteristics, Jonah wants to be the one to decide to whom they will and will not apply. He had wanted to be saved when he was in the fish (Jonah 2:2), but he does not want the Ninevites to be saved from the doom prophesied for them. He wants God to do things Jonah’s way, not God’s way. (Regarding God’s repentance, see commentary on Jonah 3:9 in lesson 12.)
Exodus 34:6, 6 And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The LordGod, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,

Jonah 1:3, 3 But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.

Jonah 2:2, 2 And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.

Jonah 3:9, 9 Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?
A certain parallel can be seen in churches where people enjoy Christianity’s benefits but are unwilling to support missionaries adequately. The sad result is to deny people in other lands and cultures the blessing of everlasting life through Jesus. After realizing how much the Lord has forgiven us, we should want others to know that there is a God who is willing to forgive them as well.
What Do You Think?
How can we avoid feeling resentful when God extends His mercy to others?
Points for Your Discussion
When extended to backslidden Christians
When extended to those who have heard and rejected the gospel
When extended to those who have never heard the gospel
B. Request and Question (vv. 3, 4)
3. Therefore now, O Lord, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.
Jonah’s frustration with the flow of events overwhelms him—so much so that he expresses his preference for death over life. This contrasts with his attitude when he was inside the fish, for there he wanted to live and see God’s temple again (Jonah 2:2, 4, lesson 11).
Jonah 2:2, 2 And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.

Jonah 2:4, 4 Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple.
Jonah has been spared from death himself, but now he is despondent and disappointed that the people of Nineveh have been spared from prophesied destruction. His inconsistent reasoning serves as a marvelous set-up for the memorable lesson God is about to teach him.
4. Then said the Lord, Doest thou well to be angry?
As with Job, the Lord responds with a question (compare Job 38:2). The fact that God’s interrogation begins with the issue of anger implies that an adjustment is necessary in that regard, as Jonah is led to look at himself in a mirror. There are indeed legitimate reasons for being angry. Do any of these form the basis for Jonah’s own anger?
Job 38:2, 2 Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?
We note that the Lord does not ask His question because He needs information—the Lord already knows everything. The question is designed to get Jonah to think. The fact that we see no response from him may indicate that he is compelled to do just that. On the other hand, a lack of response may indicate that Jonah is so aggravated that he cannot process the question.
What Do You Think?
What are some steps to take for moving from anger to mercy?
Points for Your Discussion
Considering how God himself does so
Considering how God has treated us
Considering our motives
Other

II. Jonah’s Protection (Jonah 4:5-8)
A. Hut and Plant (vv. 5, 6)
5. So Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the city.
The previous verses reveal the emotional responses of Jonah. In this verse, physical actions take the spotlight.
If circumstances work against a person’s desires in some way, he or she may not take it well! Physically, these reactions may cover the spectrum from becoming very active (from fear, as in 1 Kings 19:3; from anger, as in Acts 7:57, 58; etc.) to becoming completely inactive (1 Kings 19:4, 5; 21:4). Jonah ends up in the latter as he seems to adopt an attitude of denial. Surely God did not mean it when He said He wouldn’t destroy Nineveh, did He? So Jonah takes the actions described here, a disposition we might call “watchful waiting.”
1 Kings 19:3, 3 And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there.

Acts 7:57, 57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord,

Acts 7:58, 58 And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul.

1 Kings 19:4, 4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.

1 Kings 19:5, 5 And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat.

1 Kings 21:4, 4 And Ahab came into his house heavy and displeased because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him: for he had said, I will not give thee the inheritance of my fathers. And he laid him down upon his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no bread.
Jonah’s initial approach toward Nineveh would have been from the west. After crossing the Tigris River, he entered Nineveh to preach as he continued in an easterly direction. Today, some of the gates of ancient Nineveh have been restored in order to reflect the glory of the city’s past. Archaeology and terrain suggest that Jonah likely makes his exit through a gate at the southeastern part of a wall after he finishes his preaching tour on the east side of the city.
After he is out of the city, he probably finds a mound or high point that gives him a better view. There he builds a crude hut for shade where he can wait to see what will happen to the city. His food and water sources are not given. This waiting reflects disbelief of the Lord’s decision.
This sequence may confirm that the 40-day period (Jonah 3:4) is not over, for Jonah does not want to be in the city when time is up—just in case. Most people who want to pout seem to prefer solitude.
Jonah 3:4, 4 And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.
Ready and Acting
Benjamin Disraeli served Britain as prime minister from 1874-1880. He experienced many setbacks and once said, “I am prepared for the worst, but hope for the best.” The saying has been adapted to read “I am expecting the worst, but hoping for the best.” There seems to be no adaptation, however, for the saying to be “I am ready for the worst, but acting to bring about the best.”
What Jonah saw as the worst case—the repentance of the Ninevites—was actually the best case from God’s point of view. One would think that Jonah would have felt successful when his preaching brought about repentance. But his sinful attitudes blinded him to God’s desired end.
What is our own outlook regarding what we consider to be a worst-case scenario to be ready for and a best-case scenario to act to bring about? Jesus’ resurrection proved that God can take the worst the powers of this world can dish out and turn it into the best outcome possible. And Jesus described His forthcoming resurrection in terms of—of all things!—Jonah’s time inside the fish (Matthew 12:38-41).—C. R. B.
Matthew 12:38-41, 38 Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee.
39 But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:
40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
41 The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.
6. And the Lord God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd.
Five events or special objects are mentioned in the book of Jonah as being prepared by God: a wind (Jonah 1:4), a fish (1:17), a gourd (4:6), a worm (4:7), and an east wind (4:8). We are now at the third of these five as the Lord God temporarily supplements Jonah’s protection from the sun by means of a rapidly growing gourd. One possibility is that this is a castor-oil plant. It grows rapidly to a height of about eight feet, and it has very large leaves (see also v. 10, below).
Jonah 1:4, 4 But the Lord sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken.

Jonah 1:17, 17 Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Jonah 4:6, 6 And the Lord God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd.

Jonah 4:7, 7 But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered.

Jonah 4:8, 8 And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live.
What Do You Think?
What can we do to improve our helping skills in preparing to be God’s instrument of comfort to others?
Points for Your Discussion
For counseling adults
For counseling teenagers
For counseling preteens
The double layer of shade (shadow) for Jonah is better. He is exceeding glad of this additional blessing, which appears so suddenly and adds to his comfort. Jonah is certainly concerned for himself! But love for perceived enemies is still lacking. The teaching about loving your enemies is given by Jesus in Matthew 5:44; but Jonah has no excuse, even though he lives over 700 years before Jesus. By Jonah’s day, the enemy-love principle has already been stated in Exodus 23:4, 5 and Proverbs 25:21.
Matthew 5:44, 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

Exodus 23:4, 4 If thou meet thine enemy’s ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again.

Exodus 23:5, 5 If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his burden, and wouldest forbear to help him, thou shalt surely help with him.

Proverbs 25:21, 21 If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink:
B. Worm and Wind (vv. 7, 8)
7. But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered.
“Jonah and the Worm” is the title of one preacher’s sermon on Jonah. This title is intended to pique curiosity, since sermons on Jonah are usually about “Jonah and the Whale.” The latter is based on Matthew 12:40, which refers to “the whale’s belly.”
Matthew 12:40, 40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
God used a great sea creature to correct Jonah’s attitude about a trip to Nineveh. Now He uses a small worm to teach His prophet a further lesson. First, the worm does what God programmed it to do: it begins eating the stalk of the gourd. The interpretation of “gourd” to refer to a castor oil plant fits well, since this plant withers very quickly if the main stalk is injured.
8. And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live.
With the plant now useless for shade, God increases Jonah’s discomfort further by means of a vehement east wind (compare Jeremiah 18:17). As the sun rises, all this works together to cause Jonah to become light-headed and dizzy. He temporarily forgets his anger, but remains self-centered as he expresses his wish to die. He is physically and spiritually miserable while far from home, in the foreign land of an enemy. Exhaustion from a preaching tour he had not desired is now multiplied by the possibility of heat stroke.
Jeremiah 18:17, 17 I will scatter them as with an east wind before the enemy; I will shew them the back, and not the face, in the day of their calamity.
God has to this point used a storm and a great fish to encourage Jonah to go to Nineveh. Now God uses a worm and an east wind to move Jonah to where he should be in his attitudes toward those who are different.
What Do You Think?
What can we do to prepare for times that will be difficult to endure?
Points for Your Discussion
Regarding emotional preparations
Regarding spiritual preparations
Regarding physical preparations
Other
III. God’s Pronouncements (Jonah 4:9-11)
A. Question and Response (v. 9)
9a. And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd?
God is not finished with his efforts to correct Jonah’s thinking. Jonah is being challenged to think correctly about the mind-set a true prophet should have. The first six words of God’s question here are identical to the six words of His initial question in Jonah 4:4. The added words for the gourd here indicate God is probing deeper as He requires Jonah to think about something specific, something that is not associated with the city of Nineveh.
Jonah 4:4, 4 Then said the Lord, Doest thou well to be angry?
9b. And he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death.
Jonah’s answer is petty, defensive, and almost defiant. He attempts to bolster his position by asserting once again his preference for death.
Jonah’s peevishness indicates confidence that he has done nothing wrong. Further, he cannot comprehend why he has to suffer the loss of the gourd. Emotional people who learn to control their emotions can do well in telling others about the love of God. Jonah has not yet reached that point; he lacks any compassion for the Ninevites.
Flying Off the Handle
In America’s pioneer days, axheads were made in the industrialized East, then shipped to the frontier West for fitting with handles. The handles were often fashioned by unskilled handymen, yielding the deadly possibility that an axhead could fly off an ill-fitting handle when in use (compare Deuteronomy 19:5).
Deuteronomy 19:5, 5 As when a man goeth into the wood with his neighbour to hew wood, and his hand fetcheth a stroke with the axe to cut down the tree, and the head slippeth from the helve, and lighteth upon his neighbour, that he die; he shall flee unto one of those cities, and live:
The suddenness of such an event became a metaphor for an outburst of anger: flying off the handle. Possibly the first such use of this figure of speech in print was in a satirical story by Thomas Haliburton in 1844. Haliburton was a Canadian who mocked human nature in general and American-Canadian relations in particular in essays in The Nova Scotian.
But the idea goes back much further than the year AD 1844! God’s directive for Jonah to preach in Nineveh seemed to strike a deep vein of resentment in that prophet; thus we see him “flying off the handle” at God. Do you deal with your anger any better than did Jonah? See James 1:19, 20.—C. R. B.
James 1:19, 19 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:

James 1:20, 20 For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.
B. Rebuke and Reason (vv. 10, 11)
10. Then said the Lord, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night.
God’s second question (v. 9a) is designed to soften Jonah’s attitude. But Job’s response (v. 9b) indicates further work is needed. God’s observations of fact challenge Jonah’s thinking by reminding the prophet that he had no ownership of the gourd, for he had neither planted nor tended it. These facts should compel the prophet to realize how absurd and small his defensive statements really are. But God has a bit more yet to say.
11. And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?
The Lord’s final question demands that Jonah contrast his thoughts about the gourd with God’s thoughts regarding Nineveh. Jonah should feel embarrassed, for it is obvious that the population of a large city is more important than a single, solitary plant! Jonah’s self-centeredness is now so obvious that even he should see it.
The size and greatness of Nineveh is indicated by the number sixscore thousand, which is 120,000. There are two main lines of interpretation regarding this number. Some propose that it is the total population of the city. A city of this acreage (see commentary on Jonah 3:3 in lesson 12) can accommodate twice that number easily. Under this view, the declaration that they cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand has a spiritual dimension—that spiritually the Ninevites are somehow deficient in being able to distinguish good from evil. This viewpoint runs into trouble at Romans 1:20.
Jonah 3:3, 3 So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of theLord. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days’ journey.

Romans 1:20, 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
The other view is that the 120,000 refers to the number of children in Nineveh who are not yet old enough to tell right from left. That would boost the total population significantly when estimates of the number of older children and adults are added in. The grand total may be too much according to our analysis of Jonah 3:3, unless the villages in the immediate vicinity are included.
The reference to much cattle is a reminder that God is concerned for animals as well as people. The word translated cattle refers to livestock in general, given the word’s frequent translation “beast” elsewhere (Exodus 13:15; 22:19; etc.).
Exodus 13:15, 15 And it came to pass, when Pharaoh would hardly let us go, that theLord slew all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man, and the firstborn of beast: therefore I sacrifice to the Lord all that openeth the matrix, being males; but all the firstborn of my children I redeem.

Exodus 22:19, 19 Whosoever lieth with a beast shall surely be put to death.
What Do You Think?
What Christian ministries can your church offer to those of the nearest “great city”?
Talking Points for Your Discussion
Considering demographic factors
In terms of priorities
In terms of defining ministry
Other
Conclusion
A. Running Ahead of God
In general, there are two mistakes we can make in our relationship with God. First, we can lag behind Him, failing to move as fast as He wants us to (example: Haggai 1:1-8). The other mistake is to run ahead of Him. This may involve making plans that are not His (example: 2 Samuel 7:1-13) or anticipating what we think He “must” do, as in today’s lesson.
Haggai 1:1-8, 1 In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, in the first day of the month, came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet unto Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, saying,
2 Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the Lord’s house should be built.
3 Then came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet, saying,
4 Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled houses, and this house lie waste?
5 Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways.
6 Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes.
7 Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways.
8 Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the Lord.

2 Samuel 7:1-13, 1 And it came to pass, when the king sat in his house, and the Lord had given him rest round about from all his enemies;
2 That the king said unto Nathan the prophet, See now, I dwell in an house of cedar, but the ark of God dwelleth within curtains.
3 And Nathan said to the king, Go, do all that is in thine heart; for theLord is with thee.
4 And it came to pass that night, that the word of the Lord came unto Nathan, saying,
5 Go and tell my servant David, Thus saith the Lord, Shalt thou build me an house for me to dwell in?
6 Whereas I have not dwelt in any house since the time that I brought up the children of Israel out of Egypt, even to this day, but have walked in a tent and in a tabernacle.
7 In all the places wherein I have walked with all the children of Israel spake I a word with any of the tribes of Israel, whom I commanded to feed my people Israel, saying, Why build ye not me an house of cedar?
8 Now therefore so shalt thou say unto my servant David, Thus saith theLord of hosts, I took thee from the sheepcote, from following the sheep, to be ruler over my people, over Israel:
9 And I was with thee whithersoever thou wentest, and have cut off all thine enemies out of thy sight, and have made thee a great name, like unto the name of the great men that are in the earth.
10 Moreover I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more; neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them any more, as beforetime,
11 And as since the time that I commanded judges to be over my people Israel, and have caused thee to rest from all thine enemies. Also theLord telleth thee that he will make thee an house.
12 And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.
13 He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever.
It is so easy to run ahead of God and presume that He must do such and such! That presumption resulted in anger and pouting on Jonah’s part, and it can do the same to us.
Don’t run ahead of God!
B. Prayer
O God, may Your Word ever remind us of Your love for humanity! Enable us to do all we can to take the gospel to all, without bias or prejudice. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
C. Thought to Remember
When God loves, He loves the world!

Page 14 of 18
Warnings of Destruction Offer Hope
May 21, 2017
Jonah 3:1-10

Jonah 3:1-10
(Jonah 3:1) Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying,
Jonah may have felt unworthy to even try to serve God again after God punished him. Perhaps he felt he had forfeited the right to call himself a prophet. One remembers how Jesus restored Peter to service as an apostle after he had denied Him by telling him to feed His sheep (John 21:17). Probably the moment Jonah landed on shore, God spoke to him again – such was the urgency of him going to Nineveh to warn the people of coming destruction. After Jonah disobeyed the LORD, and the LORD told Jonah a second time what to do, Jonah obeyed immediately. God did not need to command him more than twice.
John 21:17, 17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
(Jonah 3:2) “Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and proclaim to it the proclamation which I am going to tell you.”
A true prophet of God will proclaim the message God gives him to preach. God considered, and the rest of the world considered, Nineveh a great city, the capital city of the great Assyrian Empire. God’s insistence that Jonah preach to the Ninevites illustrates God’s concern for the salvation of all people: Jews and Gentiles, believers and unbelievers.
(Jonah 3:3) So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, a three days’ walk.
After he experienced God’s redeeming discipline, Jonah obeyed God. He had to travel about 500 miles to Nineveh. Imagine Jonah’s flesh and hair and smell and how he must have felt and looked in the city of Nineveh after his time in the fish and long travels. He might not have wanted to obey God, and he probably preached to do God’s will lest he suffer God’s discipline or something even worse again.
(Jonah 3:4) Then Jonah began to go through the city one day’s walk; and he cried out and said, “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown.”
As Jonah preached he probably explained why he was there, that he did not want to come, that he did not want to preach to the Ninevites, and how the LORD had punished him for his disobedience and unwillingness to warn the Ninevites, the enemies of Israel, of coming destruction. His appearance and attitude would have confirmed his story. His message was definite, but implied the condition (if not stated) that if they repented God might forgive them even as God had forgiven Jonah and vomited him onto dry land.
(Jonah 3:5) Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them.
Unlike those who heard Jesus preach in His day, the Ninevites throughout the city believed Jonah’s preaching and God. News of the prophet’s experience and message traveled as fast as a wildfire throughout the city. The Ninevites demonstrated true repentance by their actions and not just by their words. Sackcloth would have been extremely uncomfortable as they showed their deep sorrow at having acted wickedly.
(Jonah 3:6) When the word reached the king of Nineveh, he arose from his throne, laid aside his robe from him, covered himself with sackcloth and sat on the ashes.
Finally, the warning of Jonah reached the king and he too repented of his sins and did as the people had done before him. Great fear motivated everyone to show their grief for their sins by stopping all their normal activities in daily life. They did not eat, drink or work but sat in the dust and turned their thoughts to God with heartfelt confession. God approved of their repentance and return to righteous behavior, which manifested God’s grace and their faith in God by believing the news Jonah brought and acting accordingly.
(Jonah 3:7) He issued a proclamation and it said, “In Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let man, beast, herd, or flock taste a thing. Do not let them eat or drink water.
In consultation with his advisers and in unison with them the king issued an official edict showing he approved of the repentant actions of his people, and he extended their actions to include their herds, flocks, and other animals. He himself did as he commanded them, rather than think he could take a royal prerogative and do nothing himself. The king showed concern not only for his people, but also for all their animals. The king did not want anyone or any animal to be destroyed. Everyone and every animal was to discipline themselves or be disciplined with this temporary suffering of not eating or drinking anything in the hope that they would not be destroyed. God’s warning gave them the hope that God was warning them through Jonah because He was compassionate; therefore, He might forgive them if they repented and called out to Him.
(Jonah 3:8) “But both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth; and let men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands.
Evil deeds and violence led to the great flood in Noah’s day and to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in Abraham’s day. Noah had preached righteousness to the people, but none had repented and only his family were saved. By word and example, Lot had told the people of Sodom and Gomorrah about God’s righteous requirements, but none repented and only his family were saved from destruction. The king probably knew or had the opportunity to know about these destructive events in the history of the world, but he had ignored the evil ways and violence of his subjects. After Jonah’s warnings, he commanded everyone not just to demonstrate their repentance with these ceremonies, but to actually reform their behavior. They also urgently prayed to God, who would see their hearts and know of their sincerity.
(Jonah 3:9) “Who knows, God may turn and relent and withdraw His burning anger so that we will not perish.”
Everyone in Nineveh certainly knew about Jonah’s experience in the great fish and that God had relented and saved him from death. More than this, they knew that God was so serious about their deserved punishment, and perhaps also saving them from what they deserved, that He insisted that Jonah, an Israelite prophet, immediately travel 500 miles to preach to them. From looking at and listening to Jonah, they knew that God was compassionate and forgiving and they hoped that God would turn from His divine anger and save them from perishing. They knew that God was certainly just, and that God was powerful enough to bring just punishment upon them.
(Jonah 3:10) When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it.
Similar to the case of others who have repented sincerely and returned to obedience, God acted according to His divine nature. He was compassionate and merciful and forgave the Ninevites. If the Ninevites had not quit doing evil, God would have justly destroyed them as He warned. Though Jonah may not have stated this to the Ninevites, he knew that if the people sincerely turned to the LORD that because of His compassion the LORD would not destroy his enemies and the enemies of Israel (and he wanted them destroyed). The repentance of the Ninevites should have served as a warning and good news to the Israelites (they could now become friends with the repentant Assyrians). But the Israelites continued in their idolatrous ways and refused to repent at the preaching of the prophets; therefore, God later used the Assyrians to destroy the Kingdom of Israel in 722 BC. All of these events should serve as a warning to all who choose to continue in their evil ways and refuse to repent and turn to our compassionate God. No wonder Jesus said that those who heard Him preach and refused to repent would come under greater condemnation. What about those today who have heard the gospel many times over and have refused to repent and come to Jesus that they might be saved?

Warnings of Destruction Offer Hope
May 21, 2017
Jonah 3:1-10
“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” (Jonah 3:10).
Even though the Ninevites did not know God, God loved them. He saw their evil ways and how their violent behavior was destroying them. Everyone was either acting violently or suffering from violence in their city. We do not know when the Assyrians had turned away from obeying God or how many times God had warned them. But at some point, God knew He had to threaten the Ninevites with destruction to save them from destruction. We do not know everything Jonah told the Ninevites, but we do know he gave them God’s word: “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown” (Jonah 3:4). The Ninevites responded as God intended. They did not know much about (or remember much about) God, but the Bible says: “They believed God.” More importantly, they proved by their actions that they believed God and trusted the Word of God that Jonah preached. They demonstrated that they regretted their sins. They humbled themselves and put on sackcloth. When the king heard, he commanded everyone to urgently pray to God. He also commanded every person and every animal to fast, and he himself put on sackcloth. But more importantly than these symbolic acts, he commanded everyone to “give up their evil ways and their violence” (Jonah 3:8). When they heard Jonah’s warning and the king’s command, everyone took hope. God had at least warned them, and that showed His compassion for them. They hoped that because of His compassion God might relent and forgive them. They hoped right. God loved them and saved them. They believed and obeyed Him.
Jonah 3:4, 4 And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.

Jonah 3:8, 8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.

Thinking Further
Warnings of Destruction Offer Hope
May 21, 2017
Jonah 3:1-10
Name ___________________________
1. Give three reasons why someone might think that Jonah might have needed the LORD to speak to him a second time.

2. What evidence did Jonah give that God’s discipline had been effective and his repentance was real?

3. What more might Jonah have said to the Ninevites as he declared God’s word to them?

4. What evidence did the Ninevites give that Jonah’s warning had been effective and there was repentance real?

5. From reading chapter three of the Book of Jonah, what evidence should believers give that they are true followers of Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior?

Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further
1. Give three reasons why someone might think that Jonah might have needed the LORD to speak to him a second time.
1. The Lord knew what Jonah needed, so God told Jonah a second time.
2. He might have felt he did not deserve to be a prophet of God ever again.
3. He might have felt that God had rejected him forever.
4. He might have felt he could take his time to fully recover from his ordeal in the fish, and go to Nineveh when he felt better; not understanding the urgency of his message.
5. He might have needed to be told that his time of discipline was over and he needed to work as a prophet again.
6. He might have needed to be reminded of exactly what God wanted him to say.
2. What evidence did Jonah give that God’s discipline had been effective and his repentance was real? He immediately obeyed the Word of the Lord explicitly, without any delay or objection.
3. What more might Jonah have said to the Ninevites as he declared God’s word to them?He probably told them about his experience in the fish, which might have explained his awful appearance from the time he spent in the fish. He might have told them that as a Hebrew he did not want to come and preach to them, but God made him do it and had punished him for not doing what he was told to do. He might have told them more about God, as he told the sailors about the God he was fleeing from obeying.
4. What evidence did the Ninevites give that Jonah’s warning had been effective and their was repentance real?They believed the Word of the LORD that Jonah preached. They all repented so fervently and visibly that the king heard about Jonah’s preaching. The king and the nobles commanded all the people and animals to fast and wear sackcloth. They all urgently prayed to the LORD. They gave up their evil ways and violence in the city. They expressed their hope in the LORD, that He would have compassion on them and not destroy them.
5. From reading chapter three of the Book of Jonah, what evidence should believers give that they are true followers of Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior?They obey the Word of the Lord and urgently pray for the Holy Spirit to help them understand and obey the Bible’s teaching.

Word Search
Warnings of Destruction Offer Hope
May 21, 2017
Jonah 3:1-10
Name ________________________

S R I K E M D H E V E N I N F
T U A C C O U N T A B L E V S
O Y E L B I S N O P S E R B P
R Q P O H H S I H S R A T I G
M N D R J E K P A F C M H R E
L K P X E C B I E P Q S I B Y
O V O I L A G R S N R V A T C
F U R U M P C K E O X J I J V
L Z T X S T W H C W S M O I Z
E C F O M A K R Z R A P A W G
E I W I U I S Y O L P T R M C
P A O D S N A L A A T J U J O
D Z R J R H I C W I W F Q E P
I A Q F D A P U M H A N O J L
F G B O S M L A W D R M S Z P

Jonah
Amittai
Nineveh
Tarshish
Joppa
Port
Ship
Preach
Flee
Storm
Sailors
Captain
Responsible
Accountable
Calamity
Hebrew
Sea
Fish

True and False Test
Warnings of Destruction Offer Hope
May 21, 2017
Jonah 3:1-10
Name ___________________________

Circle the true or false answers. Correct the false statements by restating them.
1. Jonah prayed for God to send him a fish to save him. True or False
2. When Jonah prayed to the LORD, the LORD answered him. True or False
3. Jonah sank to the realm of the dead. True or False
4. Before the great fish swallowed Jonah, he floated safely and gently on the ocean waves. True or False
5. Jonah felt that God had banished him from his presence. True or False
6. Jonah prayed toward the bulls in Jeroboam’s temple in the Kingdom of Israel.True or False
7. When seaweed wrapped around Jonah’s feet he tripped in the castle of the mermaids. True or False
8. The Lord brought Jonah’s life up from the pit. True or False
9. Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from the LORD. True or False
10. Jonah declared that salvation comes from the Lord. True or False

Answers to the True and False Test
Jonah 2:1-10
Sunday, May 14, 2017

1. False
2. True
3. True
4. False
5. True
6. False
7. False
8. True
9. True
10. True

Prayer
Father, Your love and desire to forgive are more than we can understand. Help us to model Your example to forgive in love. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

ADULT LESSON

Sunday School Lesson
May 21
Forgiving Love

Devotional Reading: Acts 11:11-18
Acts 11:11-18, 11 And, behold, immediately there were three men already come unto the house where I was, sent from Caesarea unto me.
12 And the Spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered into the man’s house:
13 And he shewed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter;
14 Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.
15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning.
16 Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.
17 Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?
18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.
Background Scripture: Jonah 3; Nahum 1-3
Jonah 3
1 And the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time, saying,
2 Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.
3 So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days’ journey.
4 And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.
5 So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.
6 For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.
7 And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water:
8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.
9 Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?
10 And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.
Key Verse
God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.—Jonah 3:10
Lesson Aims
After participating in this lesson, each learner will be able to:
1. Describe the reactions of the people and king of Nineveh to Jonah’s message.
2. Explain God’s reaction to the Ninevites’ repentance.
3. Make a list of the actions and attitudes of repentance that he or she will model in the week ahead.
Introduction
A. Limited-Time Offer
Some matters are easy to forgive. But occasionally a news report will tell of a person who forgives a killer who took the life of a family member. Most, however, find it impossible to forgive when a person kidnaps, tortures, or takes the life of a loved one.
Even so, there are examples of people who befriend the criminal in prison. Upon release, he or she is invited to share a meal or even live in the same house until a job and permanent housing are obtained. The emotions go from hatred to compassion to forgiveness.
Even given the absence of criminal behavior, people find it very difficult to request, offer, and/or receive forgiveness. When someone is offended, months or years may pass with no contact between parties. Eventually, one may extend an olive branch. Communication grows over a period of time, forgiveness is extended and accepted, and the parties eventually interact as if nothing ever happened. To seek forgiveness requires maturity. So does offering it.
Think about that from God’s perspective as you imagine yourself sitting on a hillside overlooking a modern city at dusk. The sun goes down and lights appear. The city bustles in the darkness as hundreds or thousands engage in sin. When the accumulated impact of thousands of sinful acts is considered, you may wonder why God does not act to rid the world of all sin!
But God has acted: He sent His Son to redeem humanity from sin. This act is described in these well-known words: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
John 3:16, 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
God wants to forgive, and He does. But on a day known only to God, it will be too late either to seek or accept forgiveness because it will no longer be offered (see Acts 17:30, 31). The residents of Nineveh knew their time would be up in 40 days, and they repented. Since we do not know when Jesus will return, repentance is all the more imperative!
Acts 17:30, 30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:

Acts 17:31, 31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.
B. Lesson Background
The city of Nineveh is the place for the events considered in today’s lesson. This city is first mentioned in the Bible when a descendant of Noah’s son Ham built it (Genesis 10:11). It was a major city in the Assyrian Empire and became its capital about 700 BC. This is often misunderstood, for many think it was the capital in Jonah’s day, but it was not. Jonah’s time period was more than 50 years prior to the city’s becoming the capital.
Genesis 10:11, 11 Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth, and Calah,
King Sennacherib was the Assyrian ruler who selected Nineveh as his capital. He is the one who greatly enlarged it and built a very large palace. He is also the one who lost 185,000 troops in a single night (see 2 Kings 19:35; Isaiah 37:36). The city was sited on the eastern side of the Tigris River; its ruins are across the river from the modern city of Mosul in Iraq.
2 Kings 19:35, 35 And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the Lord went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.

Isaiah 37:36, 36 Then the angel of the Lord went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.
Major cities often seem to be cesspools of sin. This was certainly true of Nineveh. The reason given for Jonah’s mission to Nineveh was that the wickedness of the city had got God’s attention (Jonah 1:2).
Jonah 1:2, 2 Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.
Sin and wickedness often produce feelings of guilt. When a city experiences a tragedy, conscientious people may wonder whether their sin is the cause. The nation of Assyria was in a period of temporary decline during Jonah’s day. Provincial leaders acted as kings in their respective regions. This is normal in and of itself, but there were conflicts among them. These were exacerbated by famines. The area also experienced devastating plagues in 765 and 759 BC. The ancients considered eclipses to be bad omens, and a solar eclipse occurred on June 15, 763 BC, visible over much of Assyria. Jonah’s message of impending doom may have had a greater impact because of some or all of these astronomical, economic, and political events.
I. Repeating the Commission (Jonah 3:1-4)
A. Mission Stated (vv. 1, 2)
1, 2. And the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.
The command is very similar to the commission given in Jonah 1:2 (see the Lesson Background). That previous instruction was for Jonah to “cry against” the city; this time Jonah is informed that he must preach what God tells him to preach. Jonah is not to come up with his own set of sermons, but is to use those provided by God.
Jonah 1:2, 2 Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.
Jonah’s location at the time of his second call is not revealed. We know the fish vomited him on “dry land” (Jonah 2:10, last week’s lesson), perhaps on a beach in Samaria. Or time may have passed so that Jonah has already been walking toward Nineveh now for several days. Some propose that he has returned to his ancestral home in Gathhepher (2 Kings 14:25). The possibilities are endless and speculative. A minority view is that the fish took Jonah on a wild ride of over 1,500 miles, traveling first west, then north around Asia Minor, then east into the Black Sea to be vomited on a beach north of Nineveh. But that would still leave 350 miles to travel.
Jonah 2:10, 10 And the Lord spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.

2 Kings 14:25, 25 He restored the coast of Israel from the entering of Hamath unto the sea of the plain, according to the word of the Lord God of Israel, which he spake by the hand of his servant Jonah, the son of Amittai, the prophet, which was of Gathhepher.
What Do You Think?
How would you respond to a fellow Christian who says, “God is calling me to be a missionary to the great city of ______”?

Points for Your Discussion
If he or she asks for your counsel
If he or she does not ask for your counsel
B. Mission Begins (vv. 3, 4)
3. So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days’ journey.
The distance from Samaria (the capital of Israel) to Nineveh is about 550 miles. Some believe Jonah to be an official prophet for King Jeroboam II (2 Kings 14:23-25). This would enable him to carry official credentials. It will take Jonah about six weeks for this overland trip. This is calculated by assuming that he can average at least 15 miles per day over varying terrain, with no travel on the Sabbath. The evidence suggests that he does not look forward to arriving at the destination, so he may travel at a slower pace.
2 Kings 14:23-25, 23 In the fifteenth year of Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel began to reign in Samaria, and reigned forty and one years.
24 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord: he departed not from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.
25 He restored the coast of Israel from the entering of Hamath unto the sea of the plain, according to the word of the Lord God of Israel, which he spake by the hand of his servant Jonah, the son of Amittai, the prophet, which was of Gathhepher.
The record of Nineveh’s size as being of three days’ journey has been criticized on the supposition that there is no city in antiquity so large as to require three days to traverse. This skepticism has drawn various responses. One response is that the three days include the time required for Jonah to stop and preach. Archaeological excavation reveals Nineveh to be at least 1,730 acres in size. Ancient cities have between 160 and 200 residents per acre; therefore the city’s total population computes to between 276,800 and 346,000 (compare Jonah 4:11). That’s huge for this era! For Jonah to preach neighborhood by neighborhood will easily require three days.
Jonah 4:11, 11 And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?

A second proposal is that the three days include the villages in the immediate vicinity of Nineveh. In such a case, Nineveh-plus-suburbs is an area with a 60-mile circumference. A third possibility is that three days’ journey is a figure of speech to describe an official visit to a major city. The first day is for exchange of greetings and getting settled. The purpose of the visit is carried out on the second day, and the guests depart on the third. These are all reasonable ways to interpret the language.
4. And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.
The first half of this verse tends to confirm the first option given above. The message Jonah proclaims after passing through a huge city gate is very brief—just five words in Hebrew. He does not offer any hope—just words of doom.
Recent disasters (see the Lesson Background) probably have a significant effect on the superstitious audience. Jonah’s prediction makes those disasters seem as mere previews of the major event that will come in forty days. Such precision enhances the effectiveness of Jonah’s preaching.
What Do You Think?
How do we respond to the charge of “being judgmental” when we try to communicate the difficult message of God’s judgment?
Points for Your Discussion
To fellow Christians
To unbelievers
II. Reactions to the Message (Jonah 3:5-9)
A. By the People (v. 5)
5. So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.
Several startling events are recorded in the book of Jonah, but one of the greatest is the tremendous response to Jonah’s pointed message. Jonah ends up being one of the most successful preachers of all time, as repentance is demonstrated at all levels of Ninevite society, from the greatest to the least.
The astonishing scope of the repentance is underlined when contrasted with the skepticism toward Jesus and His message. Jesus preached to fellow Israelites, and His ministry was accompanied by miracles; the resulting unbelief drew the divine denouncement of Matthew 11:20-24.
Matthew 11:20-24, 20 Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not:
21 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
22 But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.
23 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.
24 But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.
On the other hand, Jonah’s preaching to foreigners was well received, and there is no record that he performed any miracles in Nineveh. Jesus himself drew the contrast: “The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here” (Matthew 12:41).
Matthew 12:41, 41 The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.
Jonah’s proclamation is followed by a proclamation by the people of Nineveh themselves. Fasting can indicate deep sorrow (example: Judges 20:26) as can the donning of sackcloth—a coarse, rough fabric (example: 2 Kings 19:1). Putting both together adds intensity to the picture (compare Psalm 35:13). The Ninevites have no assurance that their demonstration of repentance will result in the prophesied disaster’s being averted. But they desperately want to do whatever it takes to preserve themselves.
Judges 20:26, 26 Then all the children of Israel, and all the people, went up, and came unto the house of God, and wept, and sat there before the Lord, and fasted that day until even, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord.

2 Kings 19:1, 1 And it came to pass, when king Hezekiah heard it, that he rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the Lord.

Psalm 35:13, 13 But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into mine own bosom.
B. By the King (vv. 6-9)
6. For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.
Usually people do as the king decrees or does. But here we have the reverse—another surprise!—as the king of Nineveh exchanges his royal clothing for sackcloth. But since leaders lead, he takes the additional step of sitting in ashes. Some students think that the use of ashes this way connects with a conqueror’s practice of burning enemy cities. Thus ashes are associated with death and destruction (compare Jeremiah 31:40).
Jeremiah 31:40, 40 And the whole valley of the dead bodies, and of the ashes, and all the fields unto the brook of Kidron, unto the corner of the horse gate toward the east, shall be holy unto the Lord; it shall not be plucked up, nor thrown down any more for ever.
This additional step by the king reinforces the actions of the people. A king with more pride may be tempted to execute the messenger in order to squash a disturbing message. Fasting, sackcloth, and ashes are mentioned together in Esther 4:3; Isaiah 58:5; and Daniel 9:3. “Earth” substitutes for ashes in Nehemiah 9:1-3. Repentance “in dust and ashes” is seen in Job 42:6.
Esther 4:3, 3 And in every province, whithersoever the king’s commandment and his decree came, there was great mourning among the Jews, and fasting, and weeping, and wailing; and many lay in sackcloth and ashes.

Isaiah 58:5, 5 Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to theLord?

Daniel 9:3, 3 And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes:

Nehemiah 9:1-3, 1 Now in the twenty and fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, and with sackclothes, and earth upon them.
2 And the seed of Israel separated themselves from all strangers, and stood and confessed their sins, and the iniquities of their fathers.
3 And they stood up in their place, and read in the book of the law of theLord their God one fourth part of the day; and another fourth part they confessed, and worshipped the Lord their God.

Job 42:6, 6 Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.
Critics have questioned the accuracy of this account by charging that a king would not have lived in Nineveh during Jonah’s day because the city did not become Assyria’s capital until later. But Nineveh was a major city in the nation, and kings did reside there occasionally. Further, the hectic conditions in Assyria at the time may have caused some provincial leaders to assume titles of royalty. Earlier in the history of the Israelites, Joshua’s forces defeated 31 kings (Joshua 12:7-24). Each was a king over what is called a city-state (compare “king of Jerusalem” in Joshua 10:1, 3; 12:10).
Joshua 12:7-24, 7 And these are the kings of the country which Joshua and the children of Israel smote on this side Jordan on the west, from Baalgad in the valley of Lebanon even unto the mount Halak, that goeth up to Seir; which Joshua gave unto the tribes of Israel for a possession according to their divisions;
8 In the mountains, and in the valleys, and in the plains, and in the springs, and in the wilderness, and in the south country; the Hittites, the Amorites, and the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites:
9 The king of Jericho, one; the king of Ai, which is beside Bethel, one;
10 The king of Jerusalem, one; the king of Hebron, one;
11 The king of Jarmuth, one; the king of Lachish, one;
12 The king of Eglon, one; the king of Gezer, one;
13 The king of Debir, one; the king of Geder, one;
14 The king of Hormah, one; the king of Arad, one;
15 The king of Libnah, one; the king of Adullam, one;
16 The king of Makkedah, one; the king of Bethel, one;
17 The king of Tappuah, one; the king of Hepher, one;
18 The king of Aphek, one; the king of Lasharon, one;
19 The king of Madon, one; the king of Hazor, one;
20 The king of Shimronmeron, one; the king of Achshaph, one;
21 The king of Taanach, one; the king of Megiddo, one;
22 The king of Kedesh, one; the king of Jokneam of Carmel, one;
23 The king of Dor in the coast of Dor, one; the king of the nations of Gilgal, one;
24 The king of Tirzah, one: all the kings thirty and one.

Joshua 10:1, 1 Now it came to pass, when Adonizedec king of Jerusalem had heard how Joshua had taken Ai, and had utterly destroyed it; as he had done to Jericho and her king, so he had done to Ai and her king; and how the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel, and were among them;

Joshua 10:3, 3 Wherefore Adonizedec king of Jerusalem, sent unto Hoham king of Hebron, and unto Piram king of Jarmuth, and unto Japhia king of Lachish, and unto Debir king of Eglon, saying,

Joshua 12:10, 10 The king of Jerusalem, one; the king of Hebron, one;
Preacher to King and Commoner
Billy Graham was an unknown farm boy from North Carolina who eventually became a Christian evangelist known worldwide. His first evangelistic crusade, in 1947, was the initial step to national recognition. His 1949 crusade, held in circus tents on a vacant lot in Los Angeles, was planned to last three weeks. But it went five more! One result was invitations to preach the gospel in many of the great cities of the world, including (eventually) Moscow.
How to Say It
Assyria Uh-sear-ee-uh.
Assyrian Uh-sear-e-un.
Damascus Duh-mass-kus.
Gathhepher Gath-hee-fer.
Jeroboam Jair-uh-boe-um.
Jonah Jo-nuh.
Nineveh Nin-uh-vuh.
Ninevites Nin-uh-vites.
Samaria Suh-mare-ee-uh.
Sennacherib Sen-nack-er-ib.

Graham went on to become a spiritual adviser to American presidents, beginning with Harry S. Truman. For a time, Graham was considered America’s conscience. His name has appeared dozens of times in the annual top-10 listings of most admired people—more than anyone else—as published by Gallup. If anyone could be considered to have been preacher to both king and commoner in the twentieth century, it was Billy Graham.
But Graham was not the first preacher able to reach all strata of society. Jonah found himself in that position some 28 centuries before Graham. If Jonah could be persuasive to king and commoner despite his own unwillingness, how effective might modern preachers be, were they to embrace God’s calling with greater enthusiasm? How can we help them do so?—C. R. B.
7. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water.
Kings don’t always have the full support of those who serve in their courts (example: Jeremiah 38:24-27). But this one apparently does, and the decree of the king has extra weight, given that it is supported by his nobles. The Hebrew behind that designation is also translated “great men” in Nahum 3:10 in a prediction of Ninevites to be “bound in chains” when the city falls to enemies in 612 BC.
Jeremiah 38:24-27, 24 Then said Zedekiah unto Jeremiah, Let no man know of these words, and thou shalt not die.
25 But if the princes hear that I have talked with thee, and they come unto thee, and say unto thee, Declare unto us now what thou hast said unto the king, hide it not from us, and we will not put thee to death; also what the king said unto thee:
26 Then thou shalt say unto them, I presented my supplication before the king, that he would not cause me to return to Jonathan’s house, to die there.
27 Then came all the princes unto Jeremiah, and asked him: and he told them according to all these words that the king had commanded. So they left off speaking with him; for the matter was not perceived.

Nahum 3:10, 10 Yet was she carried away, she went into captivity: her young children also were dashed in pieces at the top of all the streets: and they cast lots for her honourable men, and all her great men were bound in chains.

The actions of fasting decreed are unusual in that they apply also to livestock! Many households of the era include livestock of various kinds. Merchants in Nineveh have livestock for sale. Staples such as milk, meat, and eggs require nearby sources since there is no refrigeration. Therefore the fasting requirement will have a greater impact than what we may first think.
Noise! The fast prohibits both eating and drinking. This means that there will be great noise—from the crying of hungry children to the bellowing and complaining of the livestock. The noise will increase as expectations for food and water at customary times continue to go unmet.
What Do You Think?
What are some specific ways that leaders can encourage others to repent?
Points for Your Discussion
Regarding what to say
Regarding personal transparency
Regarding personal example
Other
8. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.
For the decree to include a mandate that each beast be covered with sackcloth seems strange! But adherence to this provision will further show that the repentance is genuine.
This requirement is sometimes cited to confirm that Jonah’s preaching begins in the outer suburbs, where the larger flocks are pastured. But this supposition is unnecessary since it is customary to have animals in the towns.
The king strengthens the impact of the fast by further requiring that the people turn to God and away from wickedness. By this the people will show that their repentance is more than fasting and wearing sackcloth. There must also be the actions that are the fruit of repentance.
What Do You Think?
What are some godly ways to respond after suffering violence at the hands of another?
Points for Your Discussion
Concerning requirements for forgiveness
In how we desire the judicial system to treat the perpetrator
In how we pray
Other
9. Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?
The king seriously reflects on whether all this will get God’s attention. He certainly hopes so!
We may be uncomfortable in seeing the word repent applied to God, since we normally associate that word with sin. The word translated repent involves emotion. In this case, it carries the idea that God will look with compassion on those turning to him. As they do, perhaps God will turn away from His fierce anger.
Self-preservation is basic for everyone. Each person wants to live at least another day. In this situation, the king reviews all that they have done and wonders whether it is enough. The ultimate purpose in all the self-depriving actions is that we perish not. The primary motivation is obviously fear.
III. Response by God (Jonah 3:10)
10. And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.
An important lesson about prophecies is illustrated here. Some prophecies are absolute; they will be fulfilled, no matter what (example: 2 Kings 24:1-4). Other prophecies are conditional; Jonah’s prophecy falls into this category. When the various actions of the king, his nobles, and the people of Nineveh combine to demonstrate sincerity, God cancels His plan to visit judgment destruction on the city. But although the desired result is achieved, the king and people of Nineveh won’t know it for sure until the 40 days elapse. (We don’t know whether God reveals His decision to Jonah before the 40 days are up; opinions have been expressed both ways.) Showing sincere repentance for 40 days is much more difficult than showing it for 40 hours!
2 Kings 24:1-4, 1 In his days Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim became his servant three years: then he turned and rebelled against him.
2 And the Lord sent against him bands of the Chaldees, and bands of the Syrians, and bands of the Moabites, and bands of the children of Ammon, and sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by his servants the prophets.
3 Surely at the commandment of the Lord came this upon Judah, to remove them out of his sight, for the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he did;
4 And also for the innocent blood that he shed: for he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood; which the Lord would not pardon.
As we look back on our lives and the lives of biblical characters, we know that repentance even for 40 days doesn’t guarantee repentance for a lifetime. That fact is demonstrated by the subsequent history of the nation of Assyria, with Nineveh as its capital, which becomes infamous for its atrocities on captured peoples.
In 655 BC, the prophet Nahum pronounces doom on Nineveh. This time there is no reprieve. Its demise becomes reality in 612 BC when a coalition totally destroys the city.
Burn … or Turn?
The Great Fire of London started in the bakery of Thomas Farriner just after midnight on September 2, 1666. The flames were soon out of control, and the fire raged through the city for four days. It consumed thousands of homes, dozens of church buildings, and a cathedral.
An eyewitness to the fire was Puritan preacher Thomas Vincent. It inspired him to write a book titled Fire and Brimstone in Hell, to Burn the Wicked, published in 1670. Some think the book became the touchstone for the “hellfire and brimstone” style of preaching that was to come in the decades ahead.
We would hope that practitioners of this style of preaching sincerely desired repentance on the part of those listening (compare Matthew 3:1, 2)! That is more than can be said for Jonah. He resisted and resented being called to warn Nineveh. Jonah 4:1, 2 (next week’s lesson) reveals that he wanted his audience to ignore his warning. Often pointed out is that Jonah is perhaps the only preacher in history who was upset because people heeded his message! Now think of the most ungodly, murderous group of people currently being reported in the news. Do you want those people to “get theirs,” or do you want them to repent?—C. R. B.
Matthew 3:1, 1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,

Matthew 3:2, 2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Jonah 4:1, 1But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry.

Jonah 4:2, 2 And he prayed unto the Lord, and said, I pray thee, O Lord, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.
What Do You Think?
When was a time God granted you another chance? How did you grow spiritually from that experience?
Points for Your Discussion
Concerning a family situation
Concerning a work/school situation
Concerning a sin known only to you and God
Other

Conclusion
A. The Need to Be Forgiven
Fred had just become a Christian, and he was fully aware of God’s forgiving love. Fred had a great memory, and he could recall things he had done that were wrong. His conscience would not let him brush them aside.
With thoughts of restitution, Fred decided to visit an acquaintance in the same town. After being invited in, Fred took some currency from his billfold, pushed it toward the other man, and said, “I owe you this.” The offer was resisted with the protest, “Freddie, you don’t owe me anything.”
Fred then confessed to a time he had stolen a pig and sold it when he was running low on cash. He was sure that there were so many pigs in the herd that one would not be missed. He was right; it was not. Even so, Fred insisted on restitution, and the money was accepted. Fred also asked for forgiveness for taking advantage of a friend. The forgiveness was granted, and the forgiveness in love strengthened a friendship in Christ.
Repentance is demonstrated in its fruits. This was just as true of the ancient Ninevites as it was for Fred. Where’s your fruit?
B. Prayer
Father, Your love and desire to forgive are more than we can understand. Help us to model Your example to forgive in love. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
C. Thought to Remember
Repent for a lifetime to receive God’s forgiving love for an eternity.

 

Kid’s Corner

Consult God Before Resigning

May 7, 2017

Jonah 1:1-17

 

Jonah 1:1-17

(Jonah 1:1) The word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai saying,

Jonah spoke the word of the LORD (Jehovah or Yahweh). Jonah was God’s prophet in Israel and preached to the Israelites and to the Assyrians. His preaching led the Assyrians to repent; unlike the Israelites who did not repent even when God sent them other prophets (such as Amos and Hosea). Not once did the Israelites quit worshiping the golden calves set up by Jeroboam when the kingdom of Israel divided from the kingdom of Judah. The name Jonah means “dove.” The name Amittai means “the truth of God.” Jonah is mentioned as a prophet in 2 Kings 14:25 — “He was the one who restored the boundaries of Israel from Lebo Hamath to the Dead Sea, in accordance with the word of the LORD, the God of Israel, spoken through his servant Jonah son of Amittai, the prophet from Gath Hepher.” Jesus referred to the importance of Jonah and applied Jonah’s experience to His death and resurrection — Matthew 12:39-41 “He answered, ‘A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.  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. 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.” As we teach about Jesus from the Bible, we pray that many in our generation will not be condemned by the men of Nineveh who repented at the preaching of Jonah, for we have Bibles and the preaching of Jesus.

2 Kings 14:25, 25 He restored the coast of Israel from the entering of Hamath unto the sea of the plain, according to the word of the Lord God of Israel, which he spake by the hand of his servant Jonah, the son of Amittai, the prophet, which was of Gathhepher.

 

Matthew 12:39-41, 39 But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:

40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

41 The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.

(Jonah 1:2) “Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me.”

In the time of Jonah, Assyria was a great nation and Nineveh was the capital city. Jonah would have gone to Nineveh during the reign of Jeroboam II between 786-746 BC. The Assyrians were enemies of Israel, and in 722 BC as punishment for their sins, God sent the Assyrians to punish and destroy the kingdom of Israel, the northern kingdom, and scatter the ten tribes of Israel among the nations. In Hosea 10:14-15, God had warned the Israelites in advance that He would destroy them if they did not repent — “The roar of battle will rise against your people, so that all your fortresses will be devastated — as Shalman devastated Beth Arbel on the day of battle, when mothers were dashed to the ground with their children. So will it happen to you, Bethel, because your wickedness is great. When that day dawns, the king of Israel will be completely destroyed.” Prior to Jonah’s preaching in Nineveh, the wickedness of the Assyrians had come before the LORD as in the time of Sodom and Gomorrah. See Genesis 18:20-21 — “Then the LORD said, ‘The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.’

Hosea 10:14-15, 14 Therefore shall a tumult arise among thy people, and all thy fortresses shall be spoiled, as Shalman spoiled Betharbel in the day of battle: the mother was dashed in pieces upon her children.

15 So shall Bethel do unto you because of your great wickedness: in a morning shall the king of Israel utterly be cut off.

 

Genesis 18:20-21, 20 And the Lord said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous;

21 I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.

(Jonah 1:3) 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.

Not wanting to serve the LORD as a prophet any longer, Jonah went in the opposite direction from Nineveh toward Tarshish in Spain, because he knew God would be compassionate and merciful toward his enemies (see Jonah 4:2). Jonah wanted to be as far away as possible from where God wanted him to go.  Joppa was an Israelite seaport on the Mediterranean Sea. Jonah thought he could disobey God without suffering consequences. Sinful impulses often lead us into senseless behavior. He knew from the Psalms that he could not really escape God’s presence (Psalms 139:7-8), but he thought he could resign as a prophet and stop serving God whenever he wanted to quit.

Jonah 4:2, And he prayed unto the Lord, and said, I pray thee, O Lord, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.

 

Psalm 139:7-8, Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?

If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.

(Jonah 1:4) The LORD hurled a great wind on the sea and there was a great storm on the sea so that the ship was about to break up.

God let Jonah run away from Him. Perhaps giving Jonah time to come to his senses, repent, and turn around. But Jonah paid his fare and boarded a ship for Tarshish. Some who disobey God try to do something else rather than openly rebel and reject God: Jonah tried quiet rebellion and desertion. Jonah chose what he hoped would be a long, leisurely, restful cruise far away from his responsibilities to God. But Jonah was a prophet of God and God knew what was best for all concerned; therefore, God began to do what He needed to do so Jonah would repent, return to him, and do God’s will.  “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). We see this fact demonstrated many, many times in the Old Testament. God did not want Jonah, the sailors, the Israelites, or the Ninevites to perish, and was patient until His patience ceased to be a virtue and divine justice was required.

2 Peter 3:9, The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

(Jonah 1:5) Then the sailors became afraid and every man cried to his god, and they threw the cargo which was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone below into the hold of the ship, lain down and fallen sound asleep.

Jonah began to rest right away by going below and falling into a deep sleep. The sailors did not know the truth about the true God, so as the storm grew fiercer each one cried out for their idols to save them. As Jonah slept, they worked as hard as they could to save the ship and themselves. They did not know that the spiritual weight of the prophet’s sins, not the weight of their cargo, was sinking them. They did not know that only the true God could save them; so, God used His reclaiming punishment of Jonah to teach them through Jonah the truth about God and lead them to worship the true God.

(Jonah 1:6) So the captain approached him and said, “How is it that you are sleeping? Get up, call on your god. Perhaps your god will be concerned about us so that we will not perish.”

Perhaps Jonah slept from weariness and the thought that he could relieve his burdens of guilt and sin in forgetful sleep. As with many sinners, Jonah slept in his sin and maintained a sense of false security until awakened by the captain and told of his danger and the solution “Call upon your God!” The pagan captain told Jonah of the way to avoid perishing. He did not know the true God or that Jonah had offended the true God, but he would soon learn and come to believe in the true God. Perhaps God inspired the captain to tell Jonah the truth that would save him, all the sailors, and the ship.

(Jonah 1:7) Each man said to his mate, “Come, let us cast lots so we may learn on whose account this calamity has struck us.” So they cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah.

Jonah might have felt too guilty to pray, but the sailors knew that their prayers were not being answered and they wanted to know who was responsible for their prayers not being answered and their dire circumstances. They came to conclude that this sudden unusual storm, without any signs of approaching and so unusual in their experiences on the sea, was punishment for someone’s sin, and they wanted to know the guilty person. God used the casting of lots by these pagan sailors to achieve His purposes (this does not mean casting lots is the way to discern God’s will). The sailors demonstrated a greater compassion for Jonah than Jonah had for the whole city of Nineveh, and unlike Jonah in Nineveh, their lives were in great danger.

(Jonah 1:8) Then they said to him, “Tell us, now! On whose account has this calamity struck us? What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?”

In order to be just, these sailors held court to determine Jonah’s guilt and how they should rightly respond. They did not want to do wrong to Jonah just because the lot fell to him. Jonah’s work was “prophet of God.” Jonah had come from receiving and refusing to obey a direct command from God (that’s what his fleeing really meant). He did not want to lead pagans to God (those in Nineveh especially). He was from Israel. He was a “Hebrew”: “the people of God.” He would soon learn that God loved everyone.

(Jonah 1:9) He said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the LORD God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land.”

These foreign sailors knew Hebrews. In the Old Testament, Hebrews contrasted themselves to foreigners. Jonah told them the true name of the true God: (LORD is a translation of Jehovah or Yahweh). The true God was totally different from their pagan gods, for the LORD is the God of heaven. He made the sea that was threatening them and the dry land that could save them from death, if they could only reach it.

(Jonah 1:10) Then the men became extremely frightened and they said to him, “How could you do this?” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them.

They did not know what it meant for Jonah to run away from the true God until they experienced God’s judgment against Jonah that God designed to lead Jonah back to obedience. They knew they suffered from Jonah’s punishment. They wondered how Jonah could flee from and disobey so great a God as the Creator of heaven and earth. They all soon learned that this was impossible. Their fears would eventually lead them to faith in and worship of the true God. They learned from Jonah’s experience how serious it was to disobey or turn from obedience to the true God; therefore, these men turned from their paganism to worship the LORD. After fearing the destructive power of the sea, they soon learned to fear the Lord more than those things that God had created, and by God’s grace God saved them and they came to worship the true God in faith.

(Jonah 1:11) So they said to him, “What should we do to you that the sea may become calm for us?”—for the sea was becoming increasingly stormy.

The sailors knew Jonah was a prophet, and they wanted to know what God wanted them to do in order to obey God and be freed from the punishment of Jonah that so terrified them. When they learned about the true God, they wanted to obey Him. The sea got increasingly rougher to show that God expected immediate obedience.

(Jonah 1:12) 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 on account of me this great storm has come upon you.”

Jonah went to sea to escape obeying God, and through the sea God punished him and led him to repent. Such punishment can be called “the Lord’s discipline.” Similar to a parent who disciplines a child (not to make him suffer, but to save him). Jonah admitted the fault was his, and he deserved the punishment they too were suffering because of him. He said the solution was for them to obey God and throw him into the sea.

(Jonah 1:13) However, the men rowed desperately to return to land but they could not, for the sea was becoming even stormier against them.

Once again, we see the compassion of these pagan men for Jonah, as expressed in their desire to save him and themselves from certain death. They did not want to hurt Jonah, so they frantically tried to row back to land. They were willing to put their lives at risk, even sacrifice their lives, to save Jonah. But only God could and would save them, which God proved to them as the sea grew wilder. At some point, those who would be saved learn that their best works, even when motivated by compassion and concern for others, will not save them. They must go to God in obedient faith for Him to save them, which these men eventually did.

(Jonah 1:14) Then they called on the LORD and said, “We earnestly pray, O LORD, do not let us perish on account of this man’s life and do not put innocent blood on us; for You, O LORD, have done as You have pleased.”

The sailors turned from praying to their old gods and turned to praying to the LORD that Jonah and the storm had revealed to them. They wanted to do God’s will and wanted to be certain they were doing God’s will; so, they prayed that if they were mistaken they wanted God to forgive them if indeed Jonah were an innocent man and they had misunderstood God’s will. They wanted to please God; they wanted God to do as He pleased – such was their total submission to God, and their desire to obey the LORD of heaven and earth no matter what God required. They prayed for God’s will to be done as they sought to do the will of God when they threw Jonah over the side of the ship.

(Jonah 1:15) So they picked up Jonah, threw him into the sea, and the sea stopped its raging.

The sailors did what God and Jonah willed, and they immediately experienced God’s approval and benevolence when the raging sea became immediately calm – as immediately calm as it had become immediately raging earlier. In a similar way, Jesus calmed the sea, and the disciples probably knew the story of Jonah, which increased their amazement at what Jesus had done. (Matthew 8:6). God proved to the sailors He was the one true God and that He would answer their prayers. They learned that they should always obey Him. They learned that indeed they had obeyed Him when they threw Jonah overboard.

Matthew 8:6, And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented.

(Jonah 1:16) Then the men feared the LORD greatly, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows.

Without Jonah intending to care spiritually for these Gentile sailors, God used Jonah to lead these pagan sailors to faith in Him, even as He would use an obedient Jonah to lead the Ninevites to repentance, prayer, and faith in the true God (at least for a time). In some sense, Jonah represented the rebellion of the people of God, who refused to be priests to the nations (see Exodus 19:5-6). The sailors represented the typical pagan who came to believe in and obey God after they learned the truth about God. In Jonah’s day, the people of Israel would not listen to Hosea, Amos, or Isaiah; therefore, the Assyrians destroyed Israel in 722 BC. These sailors serve as a startling contrast to not only Jonah but also to Israel because they turned from their idols, made vows, worshiped and resolved to serve the Lord. In their efforts to express their faith in God, they made sacrifices to the LORD. These pagans turned to faith in God, along with the repentant Jonah, and they learned that God expects obedience from everyone.

Exodus 19:5-6, Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:

And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.

(Jonah 1:17) And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights.

God could have kept Jonah afloat and fed him morsels of food brought to him by seabirds or have saved him in many other ways. But God wanted to use Jonah’s three days and three nights in the belly of a large fish as a demonstration that Jesus could use later to describe His dying and being in the tomb for three days before He rose from the dead — God saved both Jonah and Jesus from disaster, giving everyone good reasons to trust the true God. Only a miracle kept Jonah alive in the belly of the fish for three days. Only a miracle allowed Jesus to preach to those in spiritual prison after being buried in His tomb (see 1 Peter 3:19 — “By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison.” Only a miracle raised Jesus from the grave three days after his burial. Just as God preserves the baby in the mother’s womb without air, God could easily preserve Jonah in the great fish and Jesus in the tomb without any need for either of them to have “natural” access to air.

1 Peter 3:19, 19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;

 

Consult God Before Resigning

May 7, 2017

Jonah 1:1-17

 

 “At this the men greatly feared the LORD, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows to him” (Jonah 1:16).

Using disobedient and unbelieving people, God can achieve His purposes. The prophet Jonah thought he could resign when God commanded him to go to Nineveh to preach and save the Assyrian capital from destruction. Jonah did not want any part of God’s plan to save his enemies. So, without consulting God, Jonah retired to vacation in Tarshish. God allowed Jonah to buy his ticket in Joppa and board his ship, because God planned to use Jonah to save the pagan sailors on board the ship. Anticipating a pleasant cruise, Jonah went below to sleep; he did not even know when a terrible storm immediately assaulted the ship. The sailors worked hard to keep the ship from breaking apart and each one prayed to his god, but neither their efforts nor their gods could save them. Finally, the captain went below and commanded Jonah to wake up and call upon his God. After the sailors determined that all their troubles were Jonah’s fault, because he was disobeying the God of heaven, the Creator of the sea and dry land, they became terrified. Since Jonah was a prophet of God, they asked him what they should do, and he told them to cast him into the sea. Instead, they tried to save Jonah and themselves by rowing for land. The storm grew worse and their efforts to save themselves and Jonah were futile. So, they prayed to God and cast Jonah into the sea. Immediately, the storm ceased. God used Jonah to lead these unbelieving pagans to true faith in Him, and God encouraged Jonah to obey Him in the future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thinking Further

Consult God Before Resigning

May 7, 2017

Jonah 1:1-17

Name ________________________

 

  1. How did the sailors determine who was responsible for their calamity? Can you always learn the truth or will of God this way? What are some better ways to make decisions?

 

  1. After the sailors asked him who he was, how did Jonah describe himself?

 

  1. After the sailors learned who Jonah was and what he had done, how did they feel and what did they do eventually after they learned the truth about God?

 

  1. Why do you think they asked Jonah what they should do? What did they do after Jonah told them what to do?

 

  1. What are some of the ways the sailors appear to be morally superior to Jonah, even though they were pagans

 

 

 

 

 

Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further

 

  1. How did the sailors determine who was responsible for their calamity? Can you always learn the truth or will of God this way? What are some better ways to make decisions?They cast lots (like rolling dice or flipping a coin). No, probably never. Study the Bible and pray to get to know God, God’s character, how God thinks about things, what God says is right and what is wrong, what God permits and what God forbids, and how God disciplines those He loves. Seek council from mature and responsible Christians. Pray for the leading of the Holy Spirit according to God’s Word.
  2. After the sailors asked him who he was, how did Jonah describe himself?“I am a Hebrew and I worship the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land” (Jonah 1:9).
  3. After the sailors learned who Jonah was and what he had done, how did they feel and what did they do eventually after they learned the truth about God?They were terrified. Eventually they believed in the LORD and worshiped Him.
  4. Why do you think they asked Jonah what they should do?What did they do after Jonah told them what to do? They knew he was a prophet of God and they probably did not want to do anything wrong to a prophet of God. At first, they tried to save everyone by rowing toward land. Then the prayed and obeyed God by throwing Jonah into the sea.
  5. What are some of the ways the sailors appear to be morally superior to Jonah, even though they were pagans?They had compassion on Jonah. They wanted to be just. They tried hard to save Jonah before eventually throwing Jonah into the sea. Jonah did not have these moral attributes with respect to those who lived in Nineveh. Still, they needed to come to faith in the true God and obey God before they could be saved.

 

 

 

Word Search

Consult God Before Resigning

May 7, 2017

Jonah 1:1-17

Name ______________________________

 

S R I K E M D H E V E N I N F

T U A C C O U N T A B L E V S

O Y E L B I S N O P S E R B P

R Q P O H H S I H S R A T I G

M N D R J E K P A F C M H R E

L K P X E C B I E P Q S I B Y

O V O I L A G R S N R V A T C

F U R U M P C K E O X J I J V

L Z T X S T W H C W S M O I Z

E C F O M A K R Z R A P A W G

E I W I U I S Y O L P T R M C

P A O D S N A L A A T J U J O

D Z R J R H I C W I W F Q E P

I A Q F D A P U M H A N O J L

F G B O S M L A W D R M S Z P

 

 

Jonah

Amittai

Nineveh

Tarshish

Joppa

Port

Ship

Preach

Flee

Storm

Sailors

Captain

Responsible

Accountable

Calamity

Hebrew

Sea

Fish

 

 

 

True and False Test

Consult God Before Resigning

May 7, 2017

Jonah 1:1-17

Name _____________________________

 

Circle the true or false answers. Correct the false statements by restating them.

 

  1. Jonah had a son that he named Amittai.True or False
  2. Jonah’s name means “Dove.”True or False
  3. Nineveh was the Assyrian capital.True or False
  4. Jonah had to travel through Tarshish to reach Nineveh.True or False
  5. God commanded Jonah to preach in Nineveh.True or False
  6. Jonah looked forward to a luxury vacation in Nineveh following his successful preaching engagement.True or False
  7. The sailors cast lots and learned that Jonah was responsible for their calamity.True or False
  8. The sailors did not want to hurt Jonah, a prophet from God, so they tried hard to row to land.True or False
  9. The sailors finally prodded Jonah to walk the plank.True or False
  10. After Jonah was gone, the sailors worshiped the true God and sacrificed to Him.True or False

 

 

Answers to the True and False Test

Jonah 1:1-17

Sunday, May 7, 2017

 

  1. False
  2. True
  3. True
  4. False
  5. True
  6. False
  7. True
  8. True
  9. False
  10. False

 

Prayer

O God, deliver us from “Jonah Syndrome”! May we be repentant when the storms of life are self-inflicted. Strengthen us to heed your calls. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

 

 

ADULT LESSON

 

Sunday School Lesson

May 7

Sustaining Love

Devotional Reading: Psalm 139:1-12

Psalm 139:1-12, 1 O lord, thou hast searched me, and known me.

Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.

Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.

For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether.

Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.

Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?

If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.

If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;

10 Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.

11 If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.

12 Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.

Background Scripture: Jonah 1

Jonah 1:7-17

7 And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah.

8 Then said they unto him, Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this evil is upon us; What is thine occupation? and whence comest thou? what is thy country? and of what people art thou?

9 And he said unto them, I am an Hebrew; and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land.

10 Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him, Why hast thou done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them.

11 Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous.

12 And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you.

13 Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not: for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous against them.

14 Wherefore they cried unto the Lord, and said, We beseech thee, O Lord, we beseech thee, let us not perish for this man’s life, and lay not upon us innocent blood: for thou, O Lord, hast done as it pleased thee.

15 So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging.

16 Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the Lord, and made vows.

17 Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Key Verse

Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him, Why hast thou done this?—Jonah 1:10a

Lesson Aims

After participating in this lesson, each learner will be able to:

  1. Describe the actions and attitudes of the sailors toward Jonah.
  2. Compare and contrast the different ways that people react to someone who has confessed a wrongdoing.
  3. List ways that people run from God today and write a prayer for divine help to avoid doing so personally.

Introduction

  1. Fleeing from Righteousness

He was one of three sons in the family, and he seemed to have all the advantages. His dark hair was naturally curly. He had sparkling blue eyes, and he had an infectious smile that disarmed others. He also brought the most grief to his mother.

His troubles began as a teenager. He was caught stealing, and his smile did not dissuade the arresting officer. He was now more than just a boy who was liked by all the neighbors. He had a criminal record, and he was sentenced to spend time at the expense of the taxpayers.

His parents went to see him in reform school. The mother came with the tears of tender love, but the father came with bewilderment. He was upset that his son had been disobedient to what he had been taught and to what had been modeled for him by family and friends.

The pattern was repeated several times, but the combination of tender love and civil discipline finally changed the young man. His mother’s sustaining love persisted through the occasions when he was “testing the system” and God.

This lesson presents God’s sustaining love for a disobedient prophet whose experiences toughened and shaped him for his mission.

  1. Lesson Background

This lesson and the next three are taken from the book of Jonah. These studies will provide a better understanding of the man, his motivations, the message of the book, and the miracles contained in it.

Jonah’s ministry, described in the book that bears his name, is difficult to date. The closest we can get is to recognize that he prophesied about events that occurred during the reign of Jeroboam II (2 Kings 14:25). That king ruled Israel from 793 to 753 BC. The designation Israel in this context refers to the northern kingdom after the original nation of Israel divided after King Solomon’s death in about 930 BC (see 1 Kings 12). The southern nation became Judah.

2 Kings 14:25, 25 He restored the coast of Israel from the entering of Hamath unto the sea of the plain, according to the word of the Lord God of Israel, which he spake by the hand of his servant Jonah, the son of Amittai, the prophet, which was of Gathhepher.

The book of Jonah is probably the best known of the 12 in the section of the Old Testament designated as the Minor Prophets. The book of Jonah is different from the other 11 in that most of it is a narrative. It is therefore easier to read and to understand.

The printed text for this lesson begins at Jonah 1:7, but it is important that in the background the first six verses of the book be given. The word of the Lord had come to Jonah, and he was commanded to go to the city of Nineveh and preach against it. The reason is given in Jonah 1:2: its wickedness had come before the Lord.

Jonah 1:7, And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah.

 

Jonah 1:2, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.

Jonah decided to disobey the Lord’s command, and he went west instead of east. He first traveled to Joppa, a city on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. His plan was to sail in the opposite direction from what God had said. If he began his trip to Joppa from Israel’s capital city, Samaria, the overland distance was about 30 miles. Jonah’s hometown, however, was Gathhepher (again, 2 Kings 14:25), which was a few miles north of Nazareth. The overland distance from there to Joppa was almost 60 miles.

2 Kings 14:25, 25 He restored the coast of Israel from the entering of Hamath unto the sea of the plain, according to the word of the Lord God of Israel, which he spake by the hand of his servant Jonah, the son of Amittai, the prophet, which was of Gathhepher.

Jonah found a ship that was ready to sail, and it was going to Tarshish (Jonah 1:3). The location of Tarshish is uncertain. Suggestions include Tartessus (a kingdom in Spain that was over 2,000 miles from Joppa) or Carthage in northern Africa (about 1,400 miles). Evidence in the last few years, however, suggests it was Sardinia, an island just west of Italy.

Jonah 1:3, But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.

Jonah was trying to do something that was as impossible then as it is now: hide from God. About 250 years before the time of Jonah, David had declared the impossibility of such (Psalm 139:7-12).

Psalm 139:7-12, Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?

If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.

If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;

10 Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.

11 If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.

12 Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.

Jonah’s trip to Joppa, from either Samaria or Gathhepher, wearied him. He paid his fare, boarded the ship, went down into the ship, and went to sleep (Jonah 1:5b). The ship set sail from Joppa, and the Lord sent a mighty storm to intercept it. The sailors reacted in the standard ways for such a situation: they lightened the ship by throwing its wares overboard (compare Acts 27:18). This storm was more than ordinary, however, and it also caused each man to pray to his god. The master of the ship awakened Jonah so that he could join them in the prayer meeting.

Jonah 1:5, Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep.

 

Acts 27:18, 18 And we being exceedingly tossed with a tempest, the next day they lightened the ship;

  1. Storm’s Cause (Jonah 1:7-9)
  2. Revealed by Lots (vv. 7, 8)
  3. And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah.

The strength of the storm causes the sailors to conclude that someone on the ship has irritated a god. They react according to their customs: they cast lots to determine the guilty party. It is naturally assumed that no one will come forward to confess, so the practice of casting lots is used to determine who is guilty. This practice is frequently used in ancient times to determine guilt (compare 1 Samuel 14:41-45).

1 Samuel 14:41-45, 41 Therefore Saul said unto the Lord God of Israel, Give a perfect lot. And Saul and Jonathan were taken: but the people escaped.

42 And Saul said, Cast lots between me and Jonathan my son. And Jonathan was taken.

43 Then Saul said to Jonathan, Tell me what thou hast done. And Jonathan told him, and said, I did but taste a little honey with the end of the rod that was in mine hand, and, lo, I must die.

44 And Saul answered, God do so and more also: for thou shalt surely die, Jonathan.

45 And the people said unto Saul, Shall Jonathan die, who hath wrought this great salvation in Israel? God forbid: as the Lord liveth, there shall not one hair of his head fall to the ground; for he hath wrought with God this day. So the people rescued Jonathan, that he died not.

In such a situation, one marked object is placed in a container with other items that are similar. The marked item may be drawn by the guilty person or by someone who is drawing for the others. Proverbs 16:33 gives the view that it is the Lord who controls the outcome. In the case at hand, it is especially true that God controls the results. Jonah is correctly identified.

Proverbs 16:33, 33 The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of theLord.

What Do You Think?

What should we do when we realize that a life storm of our own making is affecting others?

Points for Your Discussion

At home

At work or school

At church

Other

  1. Affirmed by Jonah (v. 9)
  2. Then said they unto him, Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this evil is upon us; What is thine occupation? and whence comest thou? what is thy country? and of what people art thou?

The sailors rapidly ask a series of five questions. The first one seems unnecessary in view of the result of casting lots (and see v. 10). But a verbal confession will confirm what the casting of lots has indicated.

The other questions seek more information about Jonah himself. The sailors may believe that the answers will help identify the god involved. The ancients often associate a god with a particular nation (compare 2 Kings 23:13). Therefore the first order of business for escaping the storm is to ask the questions we see here.

2 Kings 23:13,  13 And the high places that were before Jerusalem, which were on the right hand of the mount of corruption, which Solomon the king of Israel had builded for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Zidonians, and for Chemosh the abomination of the Moabites, and for Milcom the abomination of the children of Ammon, did the king defile.

  1. And he said unto them, I am an Hebrew; and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land.

These are Jonah’s first spoken words in the book, and he tells the truth forthrightly. The word Hebrew as an identifier serves to contrast an Israelite from someone of another people group. It is used this way by both Israelites (Jeremiah 34:14) and others (1 Samuel 4:9) as a way of referring to the descendants of Jacob.

Jeremiah 34:14, 14 At the end of seven years let ye go every man his brother an Hebrew, which hath been sold unto thee; and when he hath served thee six years, thou shalt let him go free from thee: but your fathers hearkened not unto me, neither inclined their ear.

 

1 Samuel 4:9, Be strong and quit yourselves like men, O ye Philistines, that ye be not servants unto the Hebrews, as they have been to you: quit yourselves like men, and fight.

Jonah’s affirmation that he serves the Lord, the God of heaven is followed with a jab at the fictitious gods of the sailors: Jonah’s God is the one who made the sea and the dry land. Logic dictates that the God who has the power to create like this also has the power to cause and calm storms.

Jonah’s answer is also a confession. Although he affirms that he fears the Lord, the storm indicates that he has been disobedient in some way. This is a self-indictment, for Jonah knows that his words and his actions are not in harmony with one another.

 

 

What Do You Think?

What evidence of repentance should others see when a Christian confesses personal failings?

Points for Your Discussion

In cases of public confessions

In cases of private confession

  1. Sailors’ Concerns (Jonah 1:10, 11)
  2. Regarding Jonah’s Sin (v. 10)
  3. Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him, Why hast thou done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them.

Jonah has said that he fears the Lord, and that prompts an even greater fear on the part of the sailors. They cannot comprehend any type of sin that could provoke the God of Jonah to send a storm of such magnitude. Through the noise of the raging wind, they ask another question.

The last half of the verse is not an answer. Rather, it stresses information that the sailors already know: Jonah already has told them that he is fleeing from the presence of the Lord (compare Jonah 1:3).

Jonah 1:3, But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.

The Storms of Life

Heat waves, lengthy drought, violent tornadoes, hurricanes, and “polar express” blizzards seem more common in recent years. Some scientific data in the mid-twentieth century suggested the earth might be moving back into another ice age.

But thinking shifted in the 1980s toward the theory of global warming. Evidence was interpreted in different ways, resulting in significant debate. As a result, the terminology became that of climate change, which seemed (at least to some) to be a more neutral description.

Many factors contribute to the ongoing confusion, including the tendency of some scientists to change their minds from time to time, the news media’s desire to sensationalize, and public distrust of government. “True believers” on both sides of the debate are so adamant in their views that many in the general public despair of ever knowing the truth.

Not so with the case of Jonah! Any debate about the cause of the violent storm that threatened his ship was settled when he confirmed the results of the cast lots. He was the undisputed cause of the change of weather causing them so much distress. That situation raises the possibility of a parallel: How many of life’s storms are indisputably the result of our own actions? Are we as honest as Jonah in admitting as much?—C. R. B.

  1. Regarding a Solution (v. 11)
  2. Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous.

The conversation between Jonah and the sailors is coming to an end. This is their final question to Jonah.

The sailors know the following related to their plight: (1) since the intense storm is the fault of Jonah, then (2) something must be done to him. The last thing they want to do is make a move that will anger further the God who made the sea and the dry land! So they hope that Jonah has the answers, for their lives are in jeopardy.

III. Actions’ Consequences                                               (Jonah 1:12-17)

  1. Solution (vv. 12-14)
  2. And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you.

Jonah’s response can be broken into four parts. The first two are what the sailors are to do. To follow Jonah’s instruction take me up would normally be fairly easy. But the tossing of the ship in the midst of this great tempest makes this much more difficult.

The second part of Jonah’s response is the ultimate answer to the sailors’ first question (Jonah 1:8). But it presents a problem, because cast me forth into the sea involves the deliberate taking of Jonah’s life (see next verse).

Jonah 1:8, Then said they unto him, Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this evil is upon us; What is thine occupation? and whence comest thou? what is thy country? and of what people art thou?

The third part is what the sailors really desire, that the sea be calm. The final section of Jonah’s response reaffirms that the real cause of the storm is Jonah himself. One thing we can say about Jonah is that at least he’s honest!

  1. Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not: for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous against them.

This verse provides a very interesting bit of information. The ship seems to be not far from the land, for the sailors fervently desire to bring the ship to shore by rowing. It is customary at this time in history for ships to move along the coast if the captains cannot navigate by other means. This has been called “harbor hopping.”

How to Say It

Gathhepher           Gath-hee-fer.

Jeroboam           Jair-uh-boe-um.

Joppa           Jop-uh.

Nazareth           Naz-uh-reth.

Nineveh          Nin-uh-vuh.

Samaria          Suh-mare-ee-uh.

 

Visual for Lesson 10. Point to this visual as you ask, “How do we avoid sinful fight, flight, or freeze reactions to God’s ministry callings?”

We may wonder how far the ship is from Joppa, the port of embarkation, when it encounters the storm. Is that the land that is in sight, or have they traveled a considerable distance along the coast? The only answer is that “the text does not say.”

The rowing of a boat demands that oars come in contact with the water for the main stroke. It can be safely assumed that rowing is almost impossible given that the storm is tossing the ship from wave crest to wave trough then back up again.

Ancient sailors do not enjoy a good reputation for noble character and morality. But these men are honorable in their not wanting to hurl Jonah to a watery grave. They do their best to reach land, but they cannot. Their honorable effort is ultimately futile.

  1. Wherefore they cried unto the Lord, and said, We beseech thee, O Lord, we beseech thee, let us not perish for this man’s life, and lay not upon us innocent blood: for thou, O Lord, hast done as it pleased thee.

The first prayer in the book is unto the Lord, but it is not prayed by Jonah. It is by the sailors, men who worship other gods. They are fully aware that the taking of innocent blood can result in great punishment. They are already experiencing plenty of God’s wrath in the form of the storm. They do not want to experience more wrath for what they feel compelled to do: take the life of a man who has not committed any crime against them. Most religions of the ancient world have codes of law that prohibit the taking of human life without due process. The biblical restriction and mandate in this regard is given after the flood in Noah’s time (Genesis 9:5, 6), and it was for all humanity in future civilizations (compare Acts 25:11Romans 13:4).

Genesis 9:5, And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man.

 

Genesis 9:6, Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.

 

Acts 25:11, 11 For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them. I appeal unto Caesar.

 

Romans 13:4, For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

Yet this is not their own judgment on Jonah, for this is the Lord’s decree. Even so, they do not want to risk becoming guilty by expediting it.

What Do You Think?

What are appropriate ways for a Christian to respond to those who are caught in the effects of another person’s sin?

Points for Your Discussion

Regarding victims who are adults

Regarding victims who are minors

  1. Results (vv. 15-17)
  2. So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging.

The situation is desperate, so the men take the drastic measure that they have been resisting—casting Jonah into the tumultuous waters. It is dangerous to be close to the edge of the deck in such weather, but they have to do it.

The resulting calm leads some to think that a raging sea immediately becomes a tranquil body of water. Others propose that the tossing waves gradually subside, with normal wave action following. Either outcome can be directed easily by the God who made the heavens, the sea, and land (see v. 9). Note than when Jesus stilled the tempest, however, seasoned fishermen were awed that the wind and the waves ceased (Matthew 8:27Mark 4:41).

Matthew 8:27, 27 But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!

 

Mark 4:41, 41 And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?

For the case at hand, it is enough for us to know that when God directs, both water and wind obey. “Thou rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them” (Psalm 89:9).

Psalm 89:9,  9 Thou rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them.

Lesser of Two Evils?

Many Iranians publicly protested what they saw as a rigged 2009 presidential election in their country. The government is said to have arrested and tortured opposition leaders. Mohsen Armin was an activist whose friends were arrested and forced to make scripted courtroom “confessions” of their alleged crimes against the government.

Armin assumed he would also be arrested and tortured, so he decided to act preemptively by issuing a retraction of any future televised confession he might make under duress. He said, “If the providence of God requires that I will be jailed as my brethren have been so far, and if, in jail and under pressure, I say something against what I have said, be sure that it is not my true belief and that I recanted under pressure.”

Jonah urged his shipmates to throw him overboard. Prior to doing so, they admitted to God that they were about to kill Jonah and asked for advance forgiveness. They felt they had no other choice. Do we ever say, “God, I know what I am planning to do is a sin, but I’m going to do it anyway. Since there’s no other choice, please forgive me”? Are there any circumstances when this line of thinking is acceptable for Christians? Why, or why not?—C. R. B.

  1. Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the Lord, and made vows.

The calming of the sea yields three reactions on the part of the sailors: they fear, sacrifice, and make vows. It would be interesting to know the rest of the story about these men. Do they abandon other gods? What is the nature of the vows they make? Do they keep those vows? Is the effect of their experience permanent?

God chose not to provide that information. But we can conclude that the three reactions are reasonable, given what the men have just endured and witnessed. They have to do something to express gratitude and thanksgiving for the fact that they are still alive after such a harrowing ordeal!

Jonah’s deliberate sin has had powerful consequences for him, the sea, and the sailors. But it even causes good things to happen, as the sailors come to a rudimentary belief in the true God.

What Do You Think?

Which Scriptures are most helpful to you for seeing that God is greater than your failures?

Points for Your Discussion

Passages about His love

Passages about His power

Passages about His will

Other

  1. Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

It is not mere coincidence that a huge fish is in the area at exactly this moment. God has allocated this creature for a special task, arranging for it to be in the right place at the right time. Some have suggested that the fish may be a type of whale (Matthew 12:40) or a shark. This detail is not essential. The important thing is that it does what God has directed it to do: swallow up Jonah.

Matthew 12:40, 40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

The fact that Jonah is in the fish for three days and three nights is a key phrase in the book: it is cited by Jesus as the sign of the prophet Jonah that anticipates Jesus’ burial for “three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:39, 40).

Some have wondered about the time factor that is mentioned. How can Jonah know the time involved, since he has no wristwatch and it is dark in the fish? The following possibilities are only conjectures: (1) God revealed the information to Jonah. (2) Jonah met some of the sailors when he was expelled from the fish, and they told him. (3) The given time factor is a figure of speech for one full, 24-hour day and parts of two others.

Matthew 12:39, 39 But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:

Several things in the book of Jonah are said to be provided or prepared by God. The lists may vary somewhat, but at this point there have been these two special things: a great storm and a great fish. The fact that a ship was just ready to sail may be more than a coincidence.

One sermon humorously suggested that since the Lord was the one who provided the fish, it could have had hot and cold running water, a luxurious bed, a color television in the corner so that Jonah could watch the news from Jerusalem, and air conditioning. It is more likely that it was dark, hot, smelly, and miserable.

One thing is certain: Jonah’s experiences with the storm, the sailors, and the fish persuade him that when God says he should go to Nineveh, it is better to obey God.

What Do You Think?

How can you help your church prepare itself to be God’s “great fish” in rescuing those whom He may send your way?

Points for Your Discussion

With regard to spiritual healing

With regard to physical need

With regard to confidentiality

With regard to remediation

Other

Conclusion

  1. “Jonah Syndrome”

Slightly over 200 years ago, a certain man sensed a call to become a minister of the gospel. He felt that his first attempts at preaching were failures, so he gave up the idea. A lady heard of his decision and called him “a Jonah.”

Her words were just the challenge that he needed to hear. He returned to his original goals, and he became an effective minister who influenced thousands for Christ.

Many today still repeat Jonah’s error. Perhaps we can say they suffer from self-inflicted “Jonah Syndrome”: they know full well what God expects in one or more areas of life, but they deliberately go in the opposite direction. How much better it is to heed God!

  1. Prayer

O God, deliver us from “Jonah Syndrome”! May we be repentant when the storms of life are self-inflicted. Strengthen us to heed your calls. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

  1. Thought for Today

Learn from Jonah, but imitate Jesus