THE BOOK OF JONAH
By David J. Riggs
A. The stories of the Bible still thrill our hearts just as they
did when we were children.
1. They bring valuable lessons for the young and old alike.
2. One such story is Jonah and the whale.
B. Jonah has been the target of many critics through the years.
1. Many people see the story as a myth.
2. However, Christ put His stamp of approval on the story of
Jonah. Matt. 12:38-41
a. Thus, Jesus spoke of the story of Jonah as a fact.
C. Therefore, it can be said that those who discredit the story of
Jonah and the whale, also discredit Jesus.
D. A close examination of the story will show some very important
lessons to be learned and applied in living the Christian life.
1. The book of Jonah is divided into four brief chapters and
can be seen as a summary of Jonah's various standings with
a. A man running from God. Ch. 1
b. A man running to God. Ch. 2
c. A man running with God. Ch. 3
d. A man running ahead of God. Ch. 4
I. Chapter one: A PICTURE OF A MAN RUNNING FROM GOD.
A. Verses 1-3
1. The man Jonah is a very misunderstood character.
a. Why would he want to flee from the presence of the
Lord rather than preach to the Ninevites?
b. See 4:1-3; it gives us the reason why he fled.
2. The Ninevites who were the Assyrians were the bitter
enemies of Israel.
a. They were a people known for their cruel brutality. 2
b. Thus, they were the German Nazis of that day.
3. Even a child would know that no one can flee from the
presence of the Lord. Prov. 15:3; Heb. 4:13
B. Verses 4-6
1. We have in this scene a heathen shipmaster rebuking a
prophet of the true God!
C. Verses 8-12
1. We cannot help but admire Jonah for his honesty, courage,
D. Verse 13
1. The sailors too were impressed by the courage and boldness
E. Verse 14
1. How much unlike those who on a very notable occasion
proclaim the opposite. Matt. 27:25
F. Verses 15-17
1. The word "prepared" "does not mean to create, but "to
determine, to appoint" (Keil)
G. Lessons from chapter 1:
1. Jonah did not like what he heard when the word of the Lord
came to him.
a. Many today do not like what the hear from the word of
God. Isa. 30:10; 2 Tim. 4:3-4
(1) Non-members do not like to hear about the one true
church or baptism for the remission of sins.
(2) Members of the church do not like to hear about
their shortcomings and responsibilities.
II. Chapter two: WE SEE A MAN RUNNING TO GOD.
A. Verses 1-2
1. Where else could he go? Sometimes the verse of the song
that we sing, "Where could I go but to the Lord," becomes
very real to us.
B. Verse 3
1. Some must go to the lowest depths so that they may regain a
living faith. Remember the prodigal son.
C. Verse 4
1. These are words of hope.
D. Verse 5
1. Jonah was a bit uncomfortable! When we think that we have
it rough, think of Jonah.
a. Here he is down inside of a great fish with sea weeds
wrapped around his head. How would you like to be in
E. Verses 6-9
1. There was absolutely no hope for Jonah, apart from divine
F. Verse 10
1. God was merciful to Jonah. Psalm 106:1
G. Lessons from chapter two:
1. Jonah got into trouble because he disobeyed God.
a. Not all trouble comes because of wrong doing.
b. However, sometimes troubles come because of our sins.
2. In all sufferings and hardships, we need to turn to God.
James 4:8; 2 Chron. 15:1-2
3. Although undeserving, God saved Jonah, and He can save us
too. Rom. 10:13; Acts 2:21; Joel 2:32
a. Let us call on the name of the Lord in His own
designated way. Acts 22:16; 1 John 1:9; Acts 8:22
III. Chapter three: WE SEE A MAN RUNNING WITH GOD.
A. Verse 1
1. There is no mention of his former call and flight. The
prophet had learned his lesson.
B. Verse 2
1. In spite of the delays and difficulties, the message was
2. "The message that I tell you." We can make no improvement
of God's message.
C. Verse 3
1. This time, without hesitation or argument, the prophet
2. "Three-day journey" -- This probably means that the city was
so large, it would take three days to walk around it.
D. Verse 4
1. Jonah spoke in such a positive way, with deep conviction, it
accomplished much good.
2. His words were conditional. Jer. 18:7-10
E. Verse 5-7
1. Wearing sackcloth in those ancient times, was a symbol of
great anguish and grief.
2. Why the people so readily accepted the message of Jonah is
a. Some had suggested that perhaps the mariners had
already returned to Nineveh with the story of Jonah and
b. Jesus said that Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites. Luke
F. Verse 8
1. They were encouraged to make an earnest plea, both in word
and action, that God would spare them.
2. "Turn from this evil way and from the violence that is in
his hands." They were to turn from their harsh brutality.
3. Thus, they understood that the overthrow would be a just
retribution for their evil deeds.
4. Jesus said that they repented at the preaching of Jonah.
G. Lessons from chapter three:
1. In this chapter we see God's hatred of sin.
a. We can be assured that if there was no turning from sin,
the city would have been destroyed.
2. We also see God's love for sinners. Even for a sinful
a. When we repent (fully turn from our sins), God will be
merciful and forgive. Prov. 28:13
3. Another lesson in this chapter is, "To run with God is the
only way to have the favor of God."
a. When Jonah was running with God, he was able to
provide a great service for God and man.
b. Let us continue to abound in the work of the Lord. 1
c. With purpose of heart let us cleave unto the Lord. Acts
IV. Chapter four: WE SEE A MAN RUNNING AHEAD OF GOD.
A. Verses 1-4
1. "He became angry" Why was he displeased?
2. He feared that God in His mercy and lovingkindness would
spare the city.
a. He wanted the Ninevites destroyed. He would rather die
than see the city spared.
3. The prophet did not have the spirit of Christ.
a. This is the same spirit of the elder bother. Luke 15:25-
b. The Lord teaches us to love our enemies. Matt. 5:44;
Luke 10:36-37; Rom. 12:20
c. The unholy, unrighteous attitude of the prophet had to
B. Verse 5
1. We can visualize in our minds this scene.
a. The prophet brings the message of God, "in forty days,
Nineveh will be overthrown."
b. He wants to see the city destroyed, so he goes out and
sits and waits to see what will happen.
C. Verses 6-11
1. God proceeds to teach Jonah an important lesson.
2. Man can be greatly concerned about what directly affects
a. Our love should not have narrow restrictions.
3. God is saying to Jonah, "If you cared for this plant which
you did not make, am I wrong in caring for a whole city of
people whom I have created?"
4. "One hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot
discern between their right hand and their left" -- small
children. These represent about one fifth of the population
which means that the city had a population of over 600,000.
a. God is concerned about all his creation. Matt. 10:29-30
D. Lesson from chapter four:
1. If Jonah had a right to have regard for the plant, surely
God would have the right to have regard for a large city of
people. Ezek. 33:11
2. Often we are like Jonah in many ways. We forget who is in
a. Jonah thought that his own judgment was better than
b. The Ninevites were a wicked and cruel people. Their
armies had brutally ravaged and tortured the Israelites
and they utterly despised them. Jonah wanted them
3. God wanted a change of heart in the Ninevites. 1 Pet. 3:9
4. Jonah needed a change of heart as well.
5. God has regard for all people. It is our duty to have the
same mind as God--show mercy and love.
a. Be truly concerned about the lost. Give all people the
chance to repent.
A. We saw a man RUNNING FROM GOD.
1. Friend if you are here today and you have not accepted Jesus
on his terms, you are running from God.
B. We saw a man RUNNING TO GOD.
1. It is wise to be running to God at all times.
C. We saw a man RUNNING WITH GOD.
1. This is the only way to be right with God--to have God on
D. We saw a man RUNNING AHEAD OF GOD.
1. We need to be constantly reminded who is in charge.
E. Why be like Jonah and try to run from God. Obey God today.
1. Believe. Heb. 11:6 Repent. Acts 17:30; Confess. Rom. 10:9
Be baptized. Acts 2:38