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JONAH Chapter 01

Memory verses for this week:   2 Cor 1:7  And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation. 

Introduction:  We begin a series this week on the book of Jonah.   Jonah is perhaps the most disputed book of the 66 in the Word of God.    People thinking from a purely worldly viewpoint have a hard time believing a man could have been swallowed by a whale and cast up on dry land after a period of three days.   However, I know we can believe this record as fact.   All scripture is true, and I agree with J. Vernon McGee on his summation of why we should believe Jonah.

We have an historical record of Jonah in the Old Testament, and we also have one in the New Testament given by the greatest authority who has ever lived on this earth, the Lord Jesus Christ. He personally gave authenticity to the historical character of Jonah and to his experience in the fish. We read in Luke 11:30, “For as Jonas was a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation.” Then in Matthew 12:39–41 we read: “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: 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 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.”

The moment you question the historical record of the Book of Jonah, you question the credibility of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is very strange to hear the liberal say, “Jesus was the greatest teacher that ever lived,” since one of the marks of a great teacher is that what he teaches is accurate and truthful. If Jesus is a great teacher, my friend, then His authentication of the Book of Jonah has to stand  .[1]

I.  Jonah’s Call and Commission  

Jonah 1:1  Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,

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

When was the term “The Word of the Lord” first used in the bible?  No, this is not the first account.  In Genesis 15 and verse 1, the bible states:

Gen 15:1  After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.

Jonah’s call came from the Lord, as does all truly called ministers of God.   Jonah’s command was to go to Nineveh and to cry against it.  Nineveh was a Gentile city and its inhabitants were considered enemies of the Jews.  God wanted Jonah to go down and declare judgment was to come to this great city.   God declared that the city was wicked in his sight in verse 2. But he did not heed God’s call, and decided that he would prefer to go another direction as we find in verse 3.

God destroyed man by the flood due to wickedness.

Gen 6:5  And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

Gen 6:6  And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.

Gen 6:7  And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.

Because of the great sexual wickedness in Sodom and Gomorrah, God rained fire and brimstone upon them.

Gen 19:24  Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven;

Gen 19:25  And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.

II.  The Flight of Jonah

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.

God gave direct orders for Jonah to go to Nineveh, but he rather chooses to flee to Tarshish.   He thought he was getting away from God.  But you know what?   There is no where we can go that God is not there.   David commented on this in Psalms.

Psa 139:7  Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?

Psa 139:8  If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.

Psa 139:9  If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;

Psa 139:10  Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.

Psa 139:11  If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.

Psa 139:12  Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.

Psa 139:13  For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb.

Psa 139:14  I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

Psa 139:15  My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.

Psa 139:16  Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.

There is no place where we can truly hide from God.   When God’s people backslide from the Lord, they want to flee from God.   That is what happens when we become disobedient children rather than obedient.  But there is no place we can go.   Jonah’s attitude is like many today.  They don’t want God’s dominion over them.  In Jesus’ day, they stated that they did not want Him to rule over them.

Luke 19:12  He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.

Luke 19:13  And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.

Luke 19:14  But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.

But look at the difference in a humble man who wanted God’s presence with him at all times.  Moses had no desire to go without the presence of God being with him.

Exo 33:13  Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, show me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people.

Exo 33:14  And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.

Exo 33:15  And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence.

Tarshish was a city located in Spain.  It is interesting how many times the scriptures here refer to going down… it is in verse 3, verse 5, and in Chapter 2 verse 6.   This is the way it was going with Jonah in his life… heading down, down, down.   Anytime a child of God gets away from the Lord that is what will happen to us.  We will go down.   Jonah paid the fare to board the ship.   When we run from God, believe me, there is a payment that has to be made.   The price of sin is high, and someone has to pay the penalty of sin.

Rom 6:23  For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Heb 10:31  It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

III.  The Mighty Storm and Jonah’s Confession

Jonah 1:4  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 1:5  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.

When we run from God, there are many storms that will come our way.  God was going to use this storm to teach Jonah a great lesson.

Perhaps nothing can conjure up fear greater than imagining that you are in a storm out in the sea.   Tossed to and fro and nothing that you could do.   I’ve heard sailors tell of that feeling, and the utter fear that overcomes you in that moment.  God sent this great storm out on the sea.   And in our lives, we can be sure that many storms will come our way.  But like Minister W. A. Criswell told his young assistant one day many years ago, when those storms come, you have to get in the very middle of God’s will, and then hunker down in that great ship of Zion and ride out the storm.   When God is in control, there is no reason to fear.

Verse 5 says that this storm was so severe that it brought fear upon the mariners, and they all became afraid.  It says that they all called out to their own gods.   Many today are like that… they get in a storm and they cry out but they know not truly to whom.  There is only one true God who can calm the storm in our lives, and that is the Jehovah God of the universe, the one that is made up of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.  One time the disciples were traveling with Christ in a ship when a storm came up.

Mark 4:35  And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side.

Mark 4:36  And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships.

Mark 4:37  And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.

Mark 4:38  And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?

Mark 4:39  And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.

Mark 4:40  And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?

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

The sailors on board with Jonah did all they could in their power to bring the ship to land.  But they had little power over such a great storm.  If we are backslidden and away from God, we can do very little in our lives to make things right except one thing.   And that is to come back to God, bow and ask Him to forgive you and to make things right.  When you do, God will calm the storm that you are in.

During the storm, we find Jonah was down in the ship trying to hide from the Lord and sleep off his convictions.   It is ironic that Jonah, the one who had power with the true God, was sleeping, while those above who knew not the Lord were trying to call upon their gods to save them.   It is high time that all of God’s people awaken from their sleep and take the gospel message to this lost and dying world.   How does the world view the church today?   Do they see us as concerned people who really care about them, or do we appear to be just one more social gathering of the world?   God helps us to be people who are compassionate, making a difference in the world and doing all we can to reach the lost.

Rom 13:11  And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.

Rom 13:12  The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.

Rom 13:13  Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.

Rom 13:14  But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.


John 4:34  Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.

John 4:35  Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.

Adam Clarke made these comments about verse 5.


Cried every man unto his god—The ship’s crew were all heathens; and, it is probable, heathens who had each a different object of religious worship.

Cast forth the wares—Threw the lading overboard to lighten the ship, hoping the better to ride out the storm.

Jonah was gone down—Most probably into the hold or cabin under the deck; or where they had berths for passengers in the sides of the ship, something in the manner of our packets.


Jonah 1:6  So the shipmaster came to him, and said unto him, What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not.

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 was asked by the shipmaster to call upon God that they might not perish.  I’m afraid things are a bit out of hand when someone has to ask us to call upon the name of the Lord.   We should not have to be asked to pray, or to be begged to attend our church services and prayer meetings.   We should come because of all the God has done for us.  It says they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah.   Jonah was found to be the guilty one.  It is a sad day when it is a Christian that brings defeat to the cause of Christ, but we can sure do that if we are not careful.

We see six question in verses 8 to 11 asked of Jonah by the men of the ship.

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?

Jonah 1:9  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.

Jonah 1:10  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.

Jonah 1:11  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.

1.  What is thine occupation.   

2 Cor 5:20  Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.

2.  Whence comest thou?    When we are saved, we are born from above.

3.  What is thy country?   Our country is heaven…. We are just pilgrims passing through this old world.

Phil 3:20  For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:

4. Of what People are thou?  We should be known as people of the Lord.

5.  Why has thou done this?  Effectively, they are questioning why Jonah was running from God.

6.  What shall we do unto thee?   Jonah answered them that they should through him overboard.

IV.  Jonah is Swallowed by the Fish

Jonah 1:12  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.

Jonah 1:13  Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not: for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous against them.

Jonah 1:14  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.

Jonah 1:15  So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging.

The sailors fought and fought, but they could not bring the ship to land.  When they realized that they could not, they then cast Jonah overboard.   I was thinking how that we get thrown by sin so many times, when we could be safe in the boat if we would keep close to God and keep sin out of our lives.

Jonah 1:16  Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the LORD, and made vows.

Jonah 1:17  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.

After they did this (throw Jonah overboard), they became very fearful.    It says it caused them to fear the Lord exceedingly, and that they offered a sacrifice unto God and made vows.   When we see the hand of God fall upon a disobedient child, it should make us fear.  Many are quick to vow great things to God in a day of trouble, but when the trouble is gone, they forget those vows.  God expects us to honor the vows we make.

Eccl 5:4  When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed.

Eccl 5:5  Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.

Eccl 5:6  Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that it was an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thine hands?

Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days.  (72 hours).  This was a type of Christ, in that our Lord Jesus Christ’s body lay in the grave 3 days and 3 nights.  (72 hours).  And make no mistake about the identity of the fish.  It was a whale.

Mat 12:39  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:

Mat 12:40  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.



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Prov 4:18  But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.


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