Bible Reading / Book By Book: Proverbs to Luke

Day 44 / Jonah 1

This story is one of the most famous from the Bible. Jonah would have lived around the same time as Obadiah and is sent to Israel’s northern neighbor Assyria, whose capitol is Nineveh. Jonah doesn’t want to preach to Nineveh; he would rather see them keep offending God and be destroyed. That’s one less invader Israel would need to worry about. Jonah runs away, but God uses a big fish to show Jonah who is in charge. In the remainder of the book, Jonah goes to Nineveh and gets them to turn to God so they are not destroyed. Although Jonah did what he was told, he was still sorry God did not destroy the city.

Jonah has an interesting problem; he has enemies he would rather have God destroy than see them change. Whether or not it is said sincerely, it is common to hear people tell someone where to go or curse something to damnation. Do we reach a point where we would rather see God judge someone than save them - a terrorist, someone who took advantage of us, or an ex-spouse? God used some pretty strong methods to turn Jonah around. Hopefully we will be less stubborn.

Jonah 1 (NASB)

Jonah’s Disobedience

The word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me.” But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.

The Lord hurled a great wind on the sea and there was a great storm on the sea so that the ship was about to break up. Then the sailors became afraid and every man cried to his god, and they threw the cargo which was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone below into the hold of the ship, lain down and fallen sound asleep. So the captain approached him and said, “How is it that you are sleeping? Get up, call on your god. Perhaps your god will be concerned about us so that we will not perish.”

Each man said to his mate, “Come, let us cast lots so we may learn on whose account this calamity has struck us.” So they cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah.Then they said to him, “Tell us, now! On whose account has this calamity struckus? What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?” He said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land.”

10 Then the men became extremely frightened and they said to him, “How could you do this?” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them. 11 So they said to him, “What should we do to you that the sea may become calm for us?”—for the sea was becoming increasingly stormy. 12 He said to them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea. Then the sea will become calm for you, for I know that on account of me this great storm has come upon you.” 13 However, the men rowed desperately to return to land but they could not, for the sea was becoming even stormier against them. 14 Then they called on the Lord and said, “We earnestly pray, O Lord, do not let us perish on account of this man’s life and do not put innocent blood on us; for You, O Lord, have done as You have pleased.”

15 So they picked up Jonah, threw him into the sea, and the sea stopped its raging. 16 Then the men feared the Lord greatly, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows.

17 And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights.