Jonah's name means dove. Jonah was called in the middle of Jeroboam II's reign in about 775BC. Nineveh represents the non-Jewish world which needs the awakening which only the true message of God can bring. Jonah illustrates the justice and mercy of God toward anyone who would repent from sin.
Jonah 1:1-3 Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. 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.
NINEVEH WAS THE CAPITAL OF SYRIA. SYRIA WAS CONTINUALLY ATTACKING ISRAEL. ISRAEL BECAME WEAK BECAUSE THEY HAD TURNED AWAY FROM GOD. WHEN WE GET WEAK FROM BECOMING A GODLESS SOCIETY THE JUDGMENT OF STRATEGIC NUCLEAR ATTACK COULD BE THE RESULT IN OUR TIME. SUPPOSE WE KNEW WITH ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY THAT RUSSIA WAS GOING TO LAUNCH A FIRST STRIKE STRATEGIC NUCLEAR WAR AGAINST US. THEN SUPPOSE GOD TOLD YOU TO GO TO MOSCOW AND TELL THEM GOD WAS GOING TO DESTROY THEM. THIS IS EXACTLY THE SITUATION OF JONAH. HE DID NOT WANT TO WARN HIS COUNTRY'S MORTAL ENEMY THAT THEY WERE GOING TO BE DESTROYED BY GOD. HE WANTED GOD TO DESTROY HIS COUNTRY'S ENEMY. SO INSTEAD OF GOING TO NINEVEH HE TRIES TO RUN AWAY FROM GOD TO THE FARTHEST PART OF THE KNOWN WORLD OF HIS DAY - TARSHISH OR SPAIN AS WE KNOW IT TODAY. WE CAN NOT RUN AWAY OR HIDE FROM GOD. WE ONLY FOOL OURSELF.
Jonah 1:11-12 & 15 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. 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. So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging.
THE LORD CAUSED A TREMENDOUS STORM ON THE SEA. JONAH TOLD THE SAILORS IT WAS HIS FAULT BECAUSE HE WAS RUNNING AWAY FROM GOD. THE ONLY WAY ANY OF THEM COULD AVOID DROWNING WAS TO THROW HIM OVERBOARD. THAT DID THE TRICK THE SEA BECAME CALM.
Jonah 1:16-17 Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the LORD, and made vows. 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.
AT THIS POINT MANY SAY THIS IS JUST A FABLE. IT IS NOT A FABLE, IT IS AN ACTUAL HISTORICAL FACT. ABOUT 10 YEARS AGO SOMEONE SURVIVED BEING SWALLOWED BY A WHALE. REMEMBER, WHALES ARE AIR BREATHING MAMMALS. IT IS NOT ONLY POSSIBLE BUT PROBABLE. IS ANYTHING IMPOSSIBLE FOR GOD? REMEMBER ALSO, JESUS TOLD US THIS IS TRUE. Matthew 12:39, Matthew 16:4, AND LUKE 11:29-30 And when the people were gathered thick together, he began to say, This is an evil generation: they seek a sign; and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet. For as Jonas was a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation.
Jonah 2:7-9 When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple. They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy. But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay [that] that I have vowed. Salvation [is] of the LORD.
HAVE YOU EVER GOTTEN SO LOW THAT YOUR SOUL FAINTS? REMEMBER THE LORD. PRAYER CHANGES THINGS. NO MATTER WHAT OUR CIRCUMSTANCES THEY COULD NOT BE WORSE THAN THE CIRCUMSTANCE THAT JONAH WAS IN WHILE HE PRAYED THIS GREAT PRAYER. SALVATION IS OF THE LORD. NOBODY CAN BE GOOD ENOUGH TO MERIT ANYTHING BUT HELL. GOD GIVES SALVATION AS A DEMONSTRATION OF HIS MERCY AND GRACE THROUGH JESUS CHRIST. THERE IS NO OTHER WAY OF SALVATION.
Jonah 2:10 And the LORD spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry [land].
HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE WALKING ALONG THE SHORE AND HERE COMES THIS GREAT WHALE AND - BLAAAHHH - THERE'S JONAH. GET THIS PICTURE STRAIGHT. THE WHALE DEPOSITS JONAH ON SHORE AND HE WALKS INTO NINEVEH BLEACHED COMPLETELY WHITE BY BEING IN THE WHALE'S BELLY FOR 3 DAYS. HE WALKS UP AND SAYS REPENT! WHAT WOULD YOU DO? JUST WHAT THEY DID IN NINEVEH. THEY REPENTED.
Jonah 3:3-6 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. 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. 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. 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.
WHEN THESE PEOPLE SAW AND HEARD JONAH THEY GOT SERIOUS ABOUT THEIR REPENTANCE. EVEN THE KING FASTED IN SACKCLOTH AND ASHES. HE MADE A DECREE THAT THEY SHOULD QUIT THEIR EVIL WAYS AND THEIR VIOLENCE. NO MORE ATTACKING OF ISRAEL.
Jonah 3:9-10 Who can tell [if] God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not? 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.
THEY REPENTED AND THEY WERE NOT DESTROYED.
Jonah 4:1-4 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry. 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.
Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for [it is] better for me to die than to live.
Then said the LORD, Doest thou well to be angry?
JONAH EXPLAINS WHY HE WAS FLEEING TO TARSHISH. HE KNEW HOW MERCIFUL GOD IS. HE WANTED GOD TO DESTROY NINEVEH. IF HE HAD GONE IMMEDIATELY, NINEVEH MAY NOT HAVE REPENTED. THE BLEACH JOB OF HIS WHOLE BODY BY THE WHALE NO DOUBT MADE HIM MUCH MORE BELIEVABLE.
Jonah 4:9-11 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. 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: 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?
GOD TOLD HIM THERE WERE MORE THAN 120,000 CHILDREN WHO WERE TOO YOUNG TO KNOW THEIR RIGHT FROM THEIR LEFT AND THEREFORE HAD TO BE INNOCENT.