Jonah in the Whale

Scripture Passage: 
Jonah 1:1-17
Attached audio files: 

INTRODUCTION: Jonah tells the story of the prophet who ran from obedience to God. There are many lessons here to help us understand how God does His work through man and how He deals with His servants when they rebel against Him.

  1. JONAH FLED FROM THE LORD (Jonah 1:1-3)
    1. The Call of Jonah (Jonah 1:1-2)
      1. Jonah the son of Amittai (Jonah 1:1)
        1. The servant of the Lord (2 Kings 14:25)
        2. The prophet of the Lord (2 Kings 14:25)
        3. From the city of Gathhepher (2 Kings 14:25)
          1. A town of Zebulon
          2. In lower Galilee (compare John 7:52)
          3. Three miles from Nazareth
        4. Probably ministered before and around 750 BC, perhaps as a contemporary of Amos
      2. The word of the Lord (Jonah 1:1-2)
        1. It came unto Jonah (Jonah 1:1).
        2. It brought a specific message (Jonah 1:2).
          1. Arise.
          2. Go to Nineveh.
            1. A great city
            2. Of three days’ journey (Jonah 3:3)
              1. Many think this refers to the distance Jonah was from the city.
              2. However, Nineveh certainly included a large area considered a part of the city, even if it was not all within a city wall. Evidently, it took Jonah three days to get through the city preaching the message of repentance.
            3. Located on Tigris River
            4. Founded very early (Genesis 10:11)
            5. The capital city of the Assyrian Empire (2 Kings 19:36)
            6. Completely destroyed in 612 BC according to biblical prophecy (Nahum 1:1; Nahum 3:7; Zephaniah 2:13)
          3. Cry against it.
            1. Because of their wickedness
            2. Because it got God’s attention (Genesis 18:20-21; Revelation 18:4-5)
    2. The Rebellion of Jonah (Jonah 1:3)
      1. He rose up to flee.
        1. Unto Tarshish
          1. Probably referring either to a region in southern Spain or to Sardinia, an island off the coast of Italy
          2. It was to the west of Israel while Nineveh was to the east. Jonah was going in the opposite direction to God’s command.
          3. It was also considered to be at the edges of civilization at the time Jonah headed that direction. He was attempting to get as far away from where God had sent him as he possibly could.
        2. From the presence of the Lord (see Genesis 3:8; Genesis 4:16); Note: One cannot actually remove himself from the presence of God (see Psalm 139:1-13), but it appears that this was Jonah’s desire.
      2. He went down to Joppa.
        1. Located on the Mediterranean coast where Tel Aviv is located today
        2. He found a ship going to Tarshish.
        3. He paid the fare of the ship. Application: we can run from the Lord, but we will have to pay the fare.
      3. He went down into the ship and into its sides (Jonah 1:5). He will later be cast down into the sea (Jonah 1:15). Application: running from God always takes us down .
  2. THE LORD SENT A STORM (Jonah 1:4-6)
    1. The Fierceness of the Storm (Jonah 1:4)
      1. A great wind
      2. A mighty tempest
      3. Threatening to wreck the ship (Psalm 107:24-28; Acts 27:13-20)
    2. The Fear of the Mariners (Jonah 1:5a)
      1. They feared because of the storm, which means that it must have been more fearsome than the storms they typically endured.
      2. Each cried to his own god (Isaiah 44:19-20).
      3. They cast forth the wares (most likely the things they were to sell in Tarshish) to lighten the ship.
    3. The Indifference of Jonah (Jonah 1:5b-6)
      1. They found Jonah asleep in the sides of the ship (Jonah 1:5b).
      2. The shipmaster came and rebuked him (Jonah 1:6).
        1. O sleeper (Romans 13:11; Ephesians 5:14)
        2. Call upon thy God.
  3. JONAH ADMITTED HIS DISOBEDIENCE (Jonah 1:7-10)
    1. The Choosing of Jonah (Jonah 1:7)
      1. They cast lots so that they might know the person responsible for bringing this evil upon them (Proverbs 16:33).
      2. The lot fell on Jonah.
    2. The Inquiry of the Mariners (Jonah 1:8)
      1. What is the cause of this evil?
      2. What is your occupation?
      3. Where are you from?
      4. What is your country?
      5. Who are your people?
    3. The Testimony of Jonah (Jonah 1:9)
      1. I am an Hebrew.
      2. I fear the LORD.
        1. The God of heaven
        2. Which hath made the sea and the dry land
    4. The Rebellion of Jonah (Jonah 1:10)
      1. The men knew of his rebellion.
      2. The men were exceedingly afraid.
      3. The men wondered why he rebelled. Note: How could he rebel against such a wonderful God?
      4. Note: the cause of Jonah’s rebellion is seen in Jonah 4:2. He knew that God was likely to forgive the people of Nineveh if they repented. Israel had suffered much at the hands of the Assyrians. It must have been music to Jonah’s ears to hear that they were to be destroyed. The last thing he wanted to do was to give them a chance to escape the judgment of God.
  4. THE MEN CAST JONAH INTO THE SEA (Jonah 1:11-15)
    1. The Suggested Solution of Jonah (Jonah 1:11-12)
      1. The men asked for a suggestion (Jonah 1:11).
      2. Jonah suggested that they throw him into the sea (Jonah 1:12).
        1. This would bring calm to the sea.
        2. Jonah evidently reasoned that it would also foil God’s purpose of him preaching to the people of Nineveh. Jonah had not repented of his disobedience at this point. He still wanted God’s judgment on Nineveh. If he was thrown into the sea, he would be killed (he thought), but Nineveh would still be judged. But God had different plans.
    2. The Failed Attempt of the Mariners (Jonah 1:13)
      1. The men rowed hard in an attempt to reach the land without having to cast Jonah overboard.
      2. They had to admit their failure.
    3. The Prayer of the Mariners (Jonah 1:14)
      1. They asked for deliverance.
        1. Let us not perish for this man’s life.
        2. Lay not on us innocent blood.
      2. They acknowledged God’s power – “for thou, O LORD, hast done as it pleased thee” (Psalm 115:3; Psalm 135:6).
    4. The Fate of Jonah (Jonah 1:15)
      1. They took up Jonah.
      2. They cast him forth into the sea.
      3. The sea ceased from her raging.
  5. THE LORD PREPARED FOR JONAH (Jonah 1:16-17)
    1. The Changed Mariners (Jonah 1:16)
      1. They feared the Lord exceedingly.
      2. They offered a sacrifice to the Lord.
      3. They made vows to the Lord.
    2. The Great Fish (Jonah 1:17)
      1. Prepared by the Lord; this fish was especially prepared by the Lord, so it does not have to match any living fish. This fish was called a whale by Jesus (Matthew 12:40).
      2. For the purpose of swallowing up Jonah
      3. Jonah remained there for three days and three nights – a picture of the time Christ spent in the heart of the earth (Matthew 12:40).

CONCLUSION: Jonah ran from the Lord, but he could not get away from Him. His running took him continually down and he had to pay the fare. But God had a purpose for him and would not let him go. Are you running away from God?

Andrew Ray