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Jonah

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OTI-32

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Our Merciful God Chastening:  jonah 1

  HE IS A GOD WHO SEEKS (1:1-2A) 

Our Lord God Almighty is such a God of Mercy and Grace! Out of the countless lives that have crossed the pages of time we find two small dots, blips on the radar screen of eternity. Seemingly insignificant to all but God. A great storm that swirled around that nameless boat somewhere in the Mediterranean eight centuries before Christ. By all counts it should have swamped that boat and sent the nameless mariners to the black depth of the sea to await judgment day. As Criswell said, “The mystery of God is seen in these thousands of years in which sin and death run riot.  There is no village and there is no hamlet without its raging, and there is no human heart without its dark, black drop.  There is no life without its tears and its sorrows.  There is no home that ultimately does not break up, and there is no family that does not see the circle of the home dissolve in the depths of the grave.  There is no life that does not end in death.  The pages of history, from the time of the first murder until this present hour, are written in blood, tears and death.” But this black night a light breaks forth. Amazingly, these sinking sailors do not perish. They rather are miraculously rescued from harm by the Master of ocean and earth and skies. Of all things, sleeping in the dark, creaking hold is an evangelist. Shaken awake by the terrified captain, questioned by shouted words over the fury of the storm, he speaks. In Jonah 1:9 the disobedient rebel shows his heart. Asked to go east he turns west. Told to rescue inland Ninevah, he seeks the Sea route to the furthest western city known in his day – Tarshish in western Spain!

THE GOD OF MERCY WHO WAITS: WHY NEVER GO TO NINEVEH (1:2B) [1]  

Nineveh lay on the eastern side of the Tigris, and was one of the greatest-if not the greatest of the cities of antiquity.  It had 2,200 towers, each 200 feet high, and its wall was100 feet high, and of such breadth that three chariots could drive on it abreast.  It was 6o miles in circumference, and could, within its was, grow corn enough for its population of 600,000.  Xenophon says the basement of its wall was of polished stone, and its width 5o feet.  In the city was a magnificent palace, with courts and was covering more than too acres.  The roofs were supported by beams of cedar, resting on columns of cypress, inlaid and strengthened by bands of sculptured silver and iron; its gates were guarded by huge lions and bulls sculptured in stone; its doors were of ebony and cypress encrusted with iron, silver, and ivory, and paneling the rooms were sculptured slabs of alabaster, and cylinders and bricks with cuneiform inscriptions.  Hanging gardens were filled with rich slants and rare annuls, and served with other temples and palaces, libraries and arsermis, to adom and enrich the city; and all was built by the labor of foreign slaves. These people ruled with hideous tyranny and violence from the Caucasus and the Caspian to the Persian Gulf, and from beyond the Tigris to Asia Minor and Egypt.  The Assyrian kings literally tormented the world.  They flung away the bodies of soldiers like so much clay; they made pyramids of human heads; they sacrificed holocausts of the sons and daughters of their enemies; they burned cities; they filled populous lands with death and devastation; they reddened broad deserts with carnage of warriors; they scattered whole countries with the corpses of their defenders as with chaff; they impaled ‘heaps of men’ on stakes, and strewed the mountains and choked the rivers with dead bones; they cut off the hands of kings, and nailed them on the walls, and left their bodies to rot with bears and dogs on the entrance gates of cities; they cut down warriors like weeds, or smote them like wild beasts in the forests, and covered pillars with the flayed skins of rival monarchs (Farrar): and these things they did without sentiment or compunction. From these details we see that the city appeared impregnable, and the people unconquerable, after having exercised power for some six to eight hundred years.

THE FOLLY OF RUNNING FROM GOD (1:3)   

In his excellent preaching on Jonah, Donald Grey Bamhouse often called attention to it by highlighting the phrase about Jonah “paying the fare.” He noted that Jonah did not get to where he was going, since he was thrown overboard, and that he obviously did not get a refund on his ticket.  So he paid the full fare and did not get to the end of his journey.  Barnhouse said, “It is always that way.  When you run away from the Lord you never get to where you are going, and you always pay your own fare.  On the other hand, when you go the Lord’s way you always get to where you are going, and he pays the fare.” Incredible as it may seem, Jonah who knew the Psalms so well he quotes a dozen from the stomach of the whale, forgot one very important Psalm. Listen, Psalm 139:7-9 Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? 8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. 9 If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 10 Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me. (NKJV) 

THE POWER OF SPEAKING FOR GOD (1:4-9)  

It is almost humorous that, in spite of his persistence in disobeying the Lord  and the breach of  divine fellowship that must have produced, Jonah gave a powerful testimony. Though Jonah’s actions are wrong, his heart can’t hide the Word of God for long, it just comes out. And in all His power God will speak to them. You see, the Scripture are God speaking. When you share them, the Voice of God is unleashed. The Bible is the unsheathed sword of the Spirit.  So he said to them, “I am a Hebrew; and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” (NKJV)   NINE WORDS that strike harder than the gale howling about them. It penetrates deeper than the cold sea spraying their faces and stinging their eyes. For you see, the Word can penetrate the very soul of mankind. Hebrews 4:12-13 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. (NKJV)  Was it he had been a preacher too long? Was the habit of speaking about the Lord just with him?  Or was he only like Peter at the campfire of the high priest? A poor and unconvincing liar.. Gaebelein writes of this testimony, “In addition to acknowledging himself a Hebrew, [Jonah] gave a witness then and there for his Lord.  He may have been endeavoring to resign his commission, but he could not change his heart, which remained that of a true prophet.  So he pointed these mariners to the only Lord God.[2] 

THE GOD WHO WILL NOT LET GO (1:10)

James Boice adds this insight: Logically, he might have been able to tell just the bare facts and let it go at that.  Verse 10 says that he rehearsed his story, culminating in his running away.   But Jonah could not stop at that point, it seems.  So even in his state of disobedience and in the trauma of the moment, Jonah told of his background and indicated that he was a servant of the Creator and covenant-keeping God, Jehovah. [3] An interesting phrase appears here, for, having been told of Jonah’s testimony, we are immediately informed that the sailors were “terrified.” We have already been told once that the men were afraid; they were afraid of the storm. We    will be told once more that as a result of God’s act in calming it they “greatly feared

[that is, reverenced]

the LORD” (v. 16). But why, we might ask, were the men exceedingly afraid at this point, more afraid apparently than they were of the  storm itself?  The reason was that they knew about Jonah’s God. These were men who had traveled from port to port around the Mediterranean Sea, hearing many stories of other people and their gods. Are we to think they had never heard of the Hebrew people or of the Hebrew God,               Jehovah? Of course, they had heard of Him!

1.                  He was the God who had brought down the plagues on Egypt so that His people might be led out.

2.                  He was the God who had parted the waters of the Red Sea to allow the Israelites to escape into the desert

3.                  He was the God  who had then closed the waters on the pursuing Egyptian forces.

4.                  He had led the Hebrews in the wilderness for forty years, protecting them by  a cloud that spread out over their encampment during the daytime to give them shade but which turned into a pillar of fire by night to give them light and heat.

5.                  He had provided manna to eat and water to drink.

6.                  He had parted the waters of the Jordan River to enable them to cross over into Canaan.

7.                  He had leveled the walls of Jericho.

8.                  He had caused the sun to stand still at Gibeon so that Joshua would have time to achieve a full victory over the fleeing Amorites. 

WHY OUR DISOBEDIENCE HURTS GOD  (1:11) 

The great God of the Hebrews  and not a weak god,  was pursuing this boat and its hapless mariners for the sake of Jonah. And how they were terrified!  “What have you done?” they asked. “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?” was their next question (v. 11).  In a penetratingly insightful sermon, an old pastor observes: It[4]  is too bad that Jonah did not learn as much from the questions the sailors asked him as they had from his testimony, or he would not have answered their questions as he did. The sailors had asked, “What have you done?” This was a rebuke.  If Jonah had answered properly, it would have led to his repentance.  There was no answer but the full confession of sin.  “Suppose yourself in Jonah’s place, and hear the question put to you-to you, a man of God, by heathen men. Because when we flee he Lord it hurts everything – our God, our testimony and our life for Him.

9.                  ‘Why hast thou done this?’

10.             Did your God provoke you to flee from him? 

11.             Did he deal so hardly and unkindly with you that you had no altemative but flight? 

12.             Were you tired of your God? 

13.             Had you found him out-as no more worthy of your trust and obedience? 

14.             Had you got to the end of all the duty that you owed to him-or of all the protection and support that he could afford to you?

15.             [Why didn’t you listen to him?] “Produce your strong reasons. 

16.             Has God been a wilderness to you? 

17.             Have you found a better friend? 

18.             Have you found a worthier portion? 

19.             Have you found a sweeter employment than meditation in his word and calling on his name?

20.             “Have you found him unfaithful to his promise? 

21.             Have you discovered that he discourages his people? 

22.             Will you say that the more you have known him, the less you have thought of him?  It looks like it, O backslider.  It looks like it, if you  can remember days when you loved him more, and served him better than now.[5]

23.             If Jonah had been able to think dearly along these lines, he would have acknowledged that nothing God had done or could ever do could deserve his disobedience, and he might have repented. 

OUR MERCIFUL GOD WHO SAVES(1:16)  

 What happens? The same incredible result that 5 words spoken later (3:4) by the same prophet would have on Ninevah. The mariners are gloriously converted! Look at them. They fear the storm (1:5), they fear the words of Jonah more (1:10), but when they meet God its all over (1:16). They approach Him the way they were supposed to, my sacrifice and made vows only after they saw who He truly was, the Lord God,  Creator of all! Meet the LORD. The God who saves whom He will. The God who storms as He wills. The God who chooses whom He wills. The God who knows all, sees all and is everywhere makes Himself known to these pagans He has desired to save. The Lord is His name. Jonah presents us with an inescapable God  The Lord of Heaven and Earth who gets Jonah’s attention by weather, fear and pain. He is an incredible God is involved in the details of life. He uses anything to bring about the perfections of His will. Most notabley in this book He speaks through  waves, whales, weeds, worms and winds 4.6.7,8. So the mission for Jonah began. He intersects with the first blip on he radar screen and scores an unwilling, direct hit. But the next task before Jonah was as big as they come. Of all the spots on the globe, God wanted Ninevah. Ninevah was wicked, a city was steeped in paganism, deeply into demonic, occult powers.  Jonah had no advance teams, no tracts, no prayer meetings to prepare the people for the coming of the evangelist.  No media, no newspapers, no explanation of what was going to take place. Ninevah was Ancient, founded among  the first of all cities (Gen. 10:8-10). It was Huge, perhaps the largest city of the old world. The walls of Ninevah’s inner city were 7.75 miles long and 100’ high. They were wide enough at the top for 3 chariots to run side by side! The moat was 150 feet wide and 60 feet deep. Bristling with 1,500 towers rising another 100 feet above the walls. This city was much larger than Babylon. Ninevah probably had 600,000 to a million people! And when God finally has the ear and will of His prophet, the message is remarkably brief. The message Jonah preached in 3:4 has 8 words in English and only 5 in Hebrew  hod arbahim yom weninewah nehpaketh

GOD, WHALES AND JONAH (1:17)

If [6] a person requests information from the Encyclopedia Britantica  on the possibility of a whale having swallowed Jonah, a four-page report will be mailed, the bulk of which consists of information taken from an article on the “Sign of the Prophet Jonah and Its Modem Confirmations,” which was published in the Princeton Theological Review in 1927.  It is followed by a bibliography in which some of the articles are supportive of the incident and some are not.  The article itself concludes: “The story of Jonah occurs in Hebrew literature and tradition as an historical record.  It can hardly be disputed that the tests applied to it are in fairness bound to be the most careful, accurate, and dispassionate that science and history can supply.  Physiological tests entirely disprove the alleged impossibility of the story.  It is shown by study of the structure of the sperm whale and its habits that it is perfectly possible for a man to be swallowed alive and after an interval vomited up again, also for him to remain alive for two or three days within the whale.  Historical tests show that a similar event has happened in later times in at least one case, and that it is quite possible for an authentic record to have survived over even a much longer period than 700 years. The article leading up to this conclusion is in two parts.  The first part distinguishes, as all honest writing on the subject has done, between those whales or other great fish that could conceivably swallow a man and those that could not.  A generation ago one heard that a whale could not swallow Jonah simply because the throat of the whale is too small.  “A whale has difficulty swallowing an orange,” was the viewpoint.  This objection arose from a failure to distinguish between the Greenland whale, which does have a very small throat and which was the whale best known to seamen of an earlier generation, and the sperm whale or cachalot, which has an enormous mouth, throat, and stomach. An average specimen of the sperm whale might have a mouth 20 feet long, 15 feet high, and 9 feet wide; that is, the mouth would be larger than most rooms in an average sized house. It is known that the sperm whale feeds largely on squid, which are often much larger than a man. Whalers have sometimes found whole squid of this size in a dead whale’s stomach. As to whether a man could survive in a whale’s stomach, the Britannica article maintains that he certainly could, though in circumstances of very great discomfort. There would be air to breathe, of a sort. It is needed to keep the animal afloat. But there would be great heat, about 104 – 108’E Unpleasant contact with the animal’s gastric juices might easily affect the skin, but the juices would not [7]digest living matter; otherwise they j would digest the walls of the creature’s own stomach. 


[1] Scroggie, The Unfolding Drama, p. 382.

[2] Gaebelein, Four Minor Prophets, p. 78.

[3] Boice, Minor Prophets, p. 223.

[4] Martin, The Prophet Jonah, pp. 167, 168.

[5] Martin, The Prophet Jonah, pp. 167, 168.

[6] A.  J. Wilson, “Sign of the Prophet Jonah and Its Modem Confirmations,” Princeton Theological

Review, Oct., 1927, pp. 630-42.

[7] Boice, Minor Prophets, p. 229.

Our Merciful God Restoring: A WHALE OF A JOURNEY

Jonah 2

But has there ever been a case of a man actually having been swallowed by a whale and then regurgitated or saved by some means?  This is the matter dealt with in the second half of the journal article, and apparently there are such cases. The incident is as follows :

In[1] February, 1891, the whale-ship Star of the East was in the vicinitv of the Falkland Islands, and the look-out sighted a large whale three miles away.  Two boats were lowered, and in a short time one of the harpooners was enabled to spear the fish.  The second boat attacked the whale, but was upset by a lash of its tail,  and the men thrown into the sea, one being drowned, and another, James Bartley, having disappeared, could not be found.  The whale was killed, and in a few hours the great body was lying by the ship’s side, and the crew busy with the axes and spades removing the blubber.  They worked all day and part of the night.  Next day they attached some tackle to the stomach, which was hoisted on deck.  The sailors were startled by spasmodic signs of life, and inside was found the missing sailor, doubled up and unconscious.  He was laid on the deck and treated to a bath of sea-water which soon revived him; but his mind was not clear, and he was placed in the captain’s quarters, where remained two weeks a raving lunatic.  He was kindly and carefully treated by the captain, and by the officers of the ship, and gradually gained possession of his senses.  At the end of the third week he had entirely recovered from the shock, and resumed his duties.

During his sojourn in the whale’s stomach Bartley’s skin, where exposed to the action of the gastric juice, underwent a striking change. His face, neck and hands were bleached to a deadly whiteness, and took on the appearance of parchment.  Bartley affirms that he would have lived inside his house of flesh until he starved, for he lost his senses through fright and not from lack of air.” Bartley  is also said to have explained that after being hurled , the waters foamed about him, evidently from the of the whale’s tail.  Then he was drawn along into darkness and found himself in a great place where the heat was unbearable.

In addition to the data on whales, there are a number of links between the prophet Jonah and Nineveh that are also supportive of the Old Testament story.  A few of these are cited by Gaebelein. First, there is a seal belonging to the reign of Amasis II of Egypt (570-526 B.C.) which shows with remarkable clarity a man emerging from a sea  monster. This seal is cited by an archaeologist named Knight in a volume entitled Nile and the Jordan, published in 1921. The figure has been identified as Jonah. A second interesting bit of information is the name of the mound in the upper Tigris valley under which the remains of ancient Nineveh were discovered. The site of Nineveh had long been lost. But the mound had been called “Neby Yunas” (“The Prophet Jonah”) for centuries. Gaebelein points out that the association of Jonah and his story with ancient Nineveh may have been preserved due to the worship of the fish-god Dagon that went on there.

God told Jonah that Nineveh[2] was a very “great city,” and indeed it was.  In addition to I what the book itself tells us-that the city – was so large that it took three days to cross it and that it had 120,000 infants or small children (4:11)-we also know that it was the capital of the great Assyrian empire, that it had walls a hundred feet high and so broad that three chariots could run abreast around them.  Within the walls were gardens and even fields for cattle.  For one man to arrive all alone with a message from an unknown God against such a city was ludicrous in the extreme.  What could one man do?  Who would listen?  Where were the armies that could break down such walls or storm such garrisons?  The men of Nineveh would ridicule the strange Jewish prophet.

GOD AND THE CITY[3]   Nineveh: An Unlikely Revival. Does God care about a pagan city.  Does He care about Mexico City, Detroit, or Chicago?  More important, do we care about our city?  Or could it be that, to us, personal comforts outweigh our commitment to the plight of the urban centers of the world.

Nineveh was the capital of Assyria, located about 200 miles northwest of Baghdad or 250 miles from ancient Babyion.  Nineveh was on the eastern bank of the Tigris/Euphrates River, and as such shared a common heritage with the great city of Babylon.  In fact, Nimrod, according to Genesis 10, was the founder of both cities.

Nineveh is a paradise for archaeologists.  The outline of the walls can still be traced.  They were at least 8 miles in circumference and were so wide that some people think chariots could be driven on top of them.  Surrounding the major city were many smaller cities and perhaps this is what the Bible meant when it says Nineveh was ‘a three days walk’ (Jonah 3:3).  Palaces, temples, sanctuaries, and even the palace of Sennacherib, one of Nineveh’s outstanding kings, have been uncovered. Of most interest was a library with thousands of clay tablets on such topics as philosophy, law, geology, chemistry, and mathmatics. Religiously, Nineveh was much like Babylon.  Both N the stars and Ishtar, the goddess of sex.  The city was filled v and witchcraft, and the people used incantations to summon whatever gods there be.

OUR MERCIFUL GOD REVIVING JONAH 3

THE REVIVAL IN NINEVEH (3:1-10) 

The Scriptures trace the elements of a God sent revival. First, there must be a faithful preaching and hearing of the Word of God. Then, this preaching must produce faith in God. Thirdly, the actions that follow saving faith begin to be seen. Look at the action words of Hebrews 11. When people in anytime believe in God and He transforms them they show it. Abel offered, Enoch walked, Noah built . . . And finally, there will be a turning from specific sins. Look at Jonah 3:8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. (NKJV)

Recall that Jonah was asked to go to Nineveh but in disobedience to God went to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.  The prophet was so angry at God’s will that he preferred to drown in the Mediterranean Sea rather than go back to preach to the Ninevites.  He knew that God might bring repentance to that city and then use the Ninevftes to punish Israel.  Jonah could not bring himself to preach to these heathen.  Jehovah, he thought, belonged to the Jews not these pagans.  But after the fish vomited him out on the dry land, he did go and preach.

Think of the disadvantages this city had during this evangelistic campaign.  The preacher had no burden, in fact he hated the people to whom he was called. He went hoping that they wouldn’t believe his message.  Then also, his message was only one of judgment — there was no grace, no love, no mercy.  There was no interesting Introduction to this sermon; nor did he have an illustration in the conclusion.  He told them simply, Yet fony days and Nineveh will be overthrown” (Jonah 3:4).

Yet the city was so responsive that it experienced one of the greatest revivals In history.  We read 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.  When the word reached the king of Nineveh, he arose from his throne, laid aside his robe from him, covered himseff with sackcloth and sat in the ashesg (3: 5,6). In fact, he Issued a proclamation that all people, even the animals, should repent!  This is surely the most unlikely revival In all of history.

Jonah’s message was conditional; that is, ff the people would repent, the r icted calamity would not come.  We read ‘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, (3. 10).

There are three accounts of repentance in this chapter.  First of all, Jonah repented, then Nineveh repented, and then God “repented.’ Of course God knew all along that Nineveh would respond to Jonah’s message.  The text simply means that God did not do what had been promised because the city turned to Him.

In 3:10 is God repenting? It says in Numbers 23:19 God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? (NIV). What happened? First, the city that God said He would destroy ceased to exist because of repentance. Secondly, when it reappeared later it was destroyed. Third, the word for repenting in Hebrew is nacham and it speaks of an internal suffering that needs consolation. When did God suffer? Not at Ninevah. No it was at a hill called Calvary when He who knew no sin became sin for us, suffered, bled and died! 

OUR MERCIFUL GOD RESPONDING JONAH 4

THE DANGER OF ANGER (4:1-4)

Why would anyone get angry at God ? Of all people, Jonah was such an unlikely candidate. But he did. Some reasons he did that we should avoid: First, he disagreed with God’s will. Then he forgot the past mercies of God. Finally, he was terribly short on his understanding of God. God is always greater, bigger, vaster and grander  than our loftiest thoughts. Jonah was angry when he couldn’t fit the Lord in his box.

THE DANGER OF HASTY DECISIONS (4:5) 

When we get angry at God  we often make the same serious mistakes Jonah made. What were they? He QUIT. He MADE A PRIVATE RETREAT. He BECAME A SPECTATOR. 

THE DEPTHS OF GOD’S MERCY (4:9-10)

The book[4] ends with a question, a question that has no written answer.  This is not a mistake.  It ends on a question in order that each one who reads it might ask himself or herself the same question: Is God not right?  Is He not great for showing mercy? The lessons of this book are many.  There are lessons that concern Jonah himself.  He is a type of practically everything: a type of Christ (who was buried but who rose again), a type of Israel, a type of all believers (for we all run away from God at times and need to be disciplined).  There are lessons that concern Nineveh and the true meaning of repentance.  There are lessons relating to the doctrine of God’s sovereignty over men and nature. But greater than all these lessons is the lesson of the greatness of the mercy of God.  How great is God’s mercy?  We have a hymn that says, “There’s a wideness in God’s mercy, like the wideness of the sea.” But even that is not wide enough.  The real measure of the wideness of the mercy of God is that of the outstretched arms of the Lord Jesus Christ as He hung on the cross to die for our salvation.  That is the wideness of God’s mercy.  That is the measure of the length to which the love of God will go. How can we, who have known that mercy and benefited from it, be less than merciful to others?  How can we do less than love them and carry the gospel to them with all the strength at our disposal? [5]

THE AMAZING MERCY OF GOD  (4:11)

This[6]   is a great irony.  We remember that Jonah was running from God because he did not want God to save the heathen in Nineveh.  But the first great event in the story was the conversion of the heathen sailors, who were in many respects just like the pagans of Nineveh.  And Jonah was not there to see it! This carries us farther in the lessons of this book about God’s sovereignty.  What God is going to do, He will do.  If He has determined to save Mary Jones, God will save Mary Jones. If He has determined to save John Smith, God will save John Smith.  Moreover, those whom He saves will never perish, neither will anyone pluck them out of Christ’s hand (John 10:28).  But notice, God can do this through the obedience of His children, as He does later with Nineveh through Jonah, in which case they share in the blessing.  Or He can do it through His chidren’s disobedience, as here, in which case they miss the blessing.  Either way, God blesses those whom He will bless.  But the one case involves happiness for His people while the other involves misery.  Which will it be in your case?  Will you resist Him?  Will you refuse His Great Commission?  Or will you obey Him in this and in all matters? Perhaps you are not yet a Christian.  If not, then learn from God’s grace to the sailors.  You have not yet perished in your godless state because God, who made the sea around you and the dry land on which you walk, preserves you.  Do not remain indifferent to Him.  Turn to Him.  Approach Him on the basis of the perfect sacrifice for sin made once by His own Son, Jesus Christ, and follow Him throughout your days.

The Danger Of Forgetting God

Read the Book of Nahum in the light of the foregoing facts, and surely it will be felt that this utterance is not one of insensate vengeance, but of retributive justice. just because God is God this had to be.  The destruction of Nineveh, the defeat of the Assyrians, and the overthrow of the Empire were sudden and complete.  Within half a century of the prophecy (in all likelihood) SO completely did Nineveh perish that no trace was left of where it once was.  Alexander the Great marched over its site, and did not know that a world-empire was buried under his feet, and nearer our own time (18th cent.) Niebuhr, the traveller, rode through Nineveh unknowingly.  This was the first instance in the history of mankind of a Power so great perishing so instantly, and for ever.

LESSONS TO BE LEARNED

JONAH: “SEVEN BAD HABITS THAT CAN REALLY MESS UP YOUR LIFE” One of the more unusual characters in the Scriptures is this fellow Jonah. He had some bad habits. Every time he gave in to those bad habits he got in trouble. He was without a doubt a man of God, but with some areas God was working on. Aren’t all of us like that? Let’s look at his seven bad habits and try to avoid them in our lives. IT IS ALWAYS A BAD HABIT WHEN :

1.      WE (1:4) FORGET THAT GOD IS IN CONTROL OF EVERY DETAIL OF OUR LIFE. Jonah 1:4  Then the LORD sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. (NIV); Psalm 139:1-6

2.      WE (1:17)  FORGET THAT GOD OFTEN USES UNUSUAL CIRCUMSTANCES TO SHAPE OUR LIVES. 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. (KJV);Genesis 50:20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. (NIV)

3.      WE (2:10)  FORGET THAT GOD ALWAYS KNOWS MORE THAN WE DO. Like: Moses and Pharaoh’s house, Joseph in prison, Daniel as POW. Remember, God may not want you to have that job, girlfriend, car, etc. Jonah 2:10  So the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land. (NKJV); Isaiah 45:11-12 Thus saith the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me. I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded. (KJV)

4.      WE (3:10)  FORGET THAT GOD IS ALWAYS [BY HIS CHANGELESS NATURE] FAR KINDER, LONG-SUFFERING AND MERCIFUL THAN YOU ARE.  Jonah 3:10  And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil which he said he would do unto them; and he did it not. (ASV);Psalm 103:13-14  Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. (KJV)

5.      WE (4:6)  FORGET THAT GOD IS THE ONE WHO GIVES THOSE [GOOD AND PERFECT GIFTS WHICH ARE THE] UNEXPECTED COMFORTS OF LIFE.  Jonah 4:6  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. (KJV);  James 1:17-18 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created. (NIV)

6.      WE (4:7)  FORGET THAT GOD CAN TAKE ANYTHING IN YOUR LIFE AWAY WHENEVER HE WILLS TO.  Jonah 4:7 But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the vine so that it withered. (NIV);  2 Samuel 12:15 After Nathan had gone home, the LORD struck the child that Uriah’s wife had borne to David, and he became ill. (NIV);  Ezekiel 24:15-18  The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, with one blow I am about to take away from you the delight of your eyes. Yet do not lament or weep or shed any tears. Groan quietly; do not mourn for the dead. Keep your turban fastened and your sandals on your feet; do not cover the lower part of your face or eat the customary food of mourners.” So I spoke to the people in the morning, and in the evening my wife died. The next morning I did as I had been commanded. (NIV);  Job 1:21  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. (KJV)

7.      WE (4:8)  FORGET THAT GOD ONLY REFINES OUR LIVES, TO PURIFY US INTO BETTER LOVE AND SERVICE FOR HIM.  Jonah 4:8  And it happened, when the sun arose, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat on Jonah’s head, so that he grew faint. Then he wished death for himself, and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.” (NKJV);  Job 23:10-12   But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.   My foot has held fast to His steps; I have kept His way and not turned aside.  I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth More than my necessary food. (NKJV)

JONAH’S PRAYER REFLECTING THE PSALMS

Jonah chapter 2 Psalm
v. 2 Jonah 2:2 And he said: “I cried out to the LORD because of my affliction, And He answered me. “Out of the belly of Sheol I cried, And You heard my voice. (NKJV) Psalm 18:4-6 The pangs of death surrounded me, And the floods of ungodliness made me afraid. 5 The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me; The snares of death confronted me. 6 In my distress I called upon the LORD, And cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, And my cry came before Him, even to His ears. (NKJV); Psalm 30:3 O LORD, You brought my soul up from the grave; You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit. (NKJV); Psalm 120:1-3     A Song of Ascents. In my distress I cried to the LORD, And He heard me. 2 Deliver my soul, O LORD, from lying lips And from a deceitful tongue. 3 What shall be given to you, Or what shall be done to you, You false tongue? (NKJV)
v. 3 Jonah 2:3 For You cast me into the deep, Into the heart of the seas, And the floods surrounded me; All Your billows and Your waves passed over me. (NKJV) Psalm 42:7 Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls; All Your waves and billows have gone over me. (NKJV)
v. 4  Jonah 2:4 Then I said, ‘I have been cast out of Your sight; Yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.’ (NKJV) Psalm 5:7 But as for me, I will come into Your house in the multitude of Your mercy; In fear of You I will worship toward Your holy temple. (NKJV); Psalm 31:22 For I said in my haste, “I am cut off from before Your eyes”; Nevertheless You heard the voice of my supplications When I cried out to You. (NKJV)
v. 5   Jonah 2:5 The waters surrounded me, even to my soul; The deep closed around me; Weeds were wrapped around my head. (NKJV) Psalm 69:1-2     To the Chief Musician. Set to “The Lilies.” A Psalm of David. Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. 2 I sink in deep mire, Where there is no standing; I have come into deep waters, Where the floods overflow me. (NKJV), Psalm 69:15 Let not the floodwater overflow me, Nor let the deep swallow me up; And let not the pit shut its mouth on me. (NKJV)
v. 6  Jonah 2:6 I went down to the moorings of the mountains; The earth with its bars closed behind me forever; Yet You have brought up my life from the pit, O LORD, my God. (NKJV) Psalm 18:16 He sent from above, He took me; He drew me out of many waters. (NKJV); Psalm 30:3 O LORD, You brought my soul up from the grave; You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit. (NKJV)
v. 7  Jonah 2:7 “When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the LORD; And my prayer went up to You, Into Your holy temple. (NKJV) Psalm 18:6 In my distress I called upon the LORD, And cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, And my cry came before Him, even to His ears. (NKJV); Psalm 42:4 When I remember these things, I pour out my soul within me. For I used to go with the multitude; I went with them to the house of God, With the voice of joy and praise, With a multitude that kept a pilgrim feast. (NKJV); Psalm 142:3 When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, Then You knew my path. In the way in which I walk They have secretly set a snare for me. (NKJV)
v. 8  Jonah 2:8 “Those who regard worthless idols Forsake their own Mercy. (NKJV) Psalm 31:6 I have hated those who regard useless idols; But I trust in the LORD. (NKJV)
v. 9  Jonah 2:9 But I will sacrifice to You With the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD.” (NKJV) Psalm 50:14 Offer to God thanksgiving, And pay your vows to the Most High. (NKJV), Psalm 50:23 Whoever offers praise glorifies Me; And to him who orders his conduct aright I will show the salvation of God.” (NKJV); Psalm 116:17 I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving, And will call upon the name of the LORD. (NKJV)

[1] Explore the Book, IV, p. 153.

[2] Boice, Minor Prophets, p. 213.

[3] Erwin Lutzer

[4] Boice, Minor Prophets, p. 250.

[5] Gaebelein, Four Minor Prophets, p. 78.

[6] Boice, Minor Prophets, p. 226.

 
 
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