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Lesson: Jonah 1 - Jonah's Disobedience

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Scripture Reading: Jonah 1:1-17.

Golden Text: Jonah 1:17.

1. Who did the Word of the Lord come to? (Jonah 1:1).

Note: Jonah's father was Amittai and this name literally means 'the truth of God." As the story unfolds it becomes clear that Jonah was to deliver God's message of truth to the people of Nineveh, but it also depicts Jonah's character of truth. Jonah was blunt, to the point and he was honest. Jonah told God exactly what he thought.

2. Where did God tell Jonah to go? (Jonah 1:2). Why was he to cry out against this great city?

Note: This great city of Nineveh had a population of 600,000 to a million inhabitants. God said that "Their wickedness has come up before Me." God required Jonah to inform the Assyrians of Nineveh that their conduct had degenerated so much that God could not allow them to continue on as a people. Their wickedness was comparable to the preflood world in the days of Noah (Genesis 6:5,13) in which God saw their wickedness and destroyed them.

3. Was Jonah obedient to God? (Jonah 1:3) What did Jonah do? Where was he going to flee to?

Note: According to the Adam Clarkeís Commentary Tarshish was Tartessus which is in Spain, near the straits of Gibraltar. So Jonah was trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea heading in the opposite direction of Nineveh. Why did Jonah flee? He knew that the Assyrians were a war mongering people and they used inhumane violence against the people that they conquered. He may have known the prophecies of Isaiah that the Assyrians were going to be a major problem in the future for Israel. He knew that God would use Assyria in order to punish the Northern Kingdom of Israel for their sins. Jonah desired to see the Assyrians destroyed whereas God had told him to warn them.

4. What did God do in response to Jonah's disobedience? (Jonah 1:4) What happened to the ship?

Note: This was a severe storm and God was revealing that no one can escape from doing His service.

5. Were the mariners afraid and what did they do? (Jonah 1:5) What was Jonah doing at this time?

Note: These mariners, sailors, were polytheistic and worshiped different gods. It appears that Jonah was exhausted from his efforts to escape Godís service and was sound asleep.

6. When the Captain of the ship came to Jonah, what did say to Jonah? (Jonah 1:6).

Note: The Captain of the ship didnít know which of the gods was responsible for the severe storm and he wanted Jonah to appeal to his God.

7. What was the purpose of the mariners casting lots? (Jonah 1:7). Who did the lot fall on?

Note: Serious storms only occurred during the winter season in the Mediterranean and no ship captain would attempt to sail at that time of year. This event occurred in the summer time (Act 27:9-12 indicates that ships would go into harbor and wait out the winter stormy season). This severe storm caused the sailors to deduce that someone on board was responsible for their dilemma and they were going to find out who the guilty party was. God made certain that the method of discovery, the casting of lots, pointed to Jonah.

8. What kind of questions did the mariners ask Jonah? (Jonah 1:8).

Note: Their questions were an attempt to understand if and how Jonah had displeased his God.

9. What was Jonah's response? (Jonah 1:9).

Note: Jonah informed them that his God created the sea and that his God was more powerful than their gods.

10. Were the mariners afraid? (Jonah 1:10). Did they know that Jonah had fled from the presence of the LORD?

Note: The sailors were horrified that Jonah would disobey such a powerful God.

11. What did they ask Jonah? (Jonah 1:11). What was happening to the sea?

Note: Rather than do anything to Jonah that might upset his God, and since only Jonah knew what would appease his God, the sailors appealed to Jonah to offer a solution that would save their lives.

12. What did Jonah tell the mariners to do with him so that the sea would become calm? (Jonah 1:12).

Note: Jonah told them they would have to throw him overboard. Jonah was willing to be sacrificed to save the sailors who were about to die.

13. What did the mariners do? (Jonah 1:13). What was happening to the sea?

Note: The pagan sailors tried to save the life of Jonah and in so doing they showed more compassion on him than did Jonah show upon the people of the Assyrian Empire.

14. Did the mariners cry out to Jonah's God? (Jonah 1:13). What did they say?

Note: The sailors appealed to the God of Jonah not to hold them responsible for Jonahís death in casting him overboard.

15. What did the mariners do to Jonah? (Jonah 1:15). What happened to the sea?

Note: When the sailors cast Jonah overboard the sea immediately became calm.

16. Did the mariners fear God exceedingly? (Jonah 1:16).What did the mariners do?

Note: The response of the sailors indicates that they believed that Jonahís God had power over the sea and wind.

17. What did God prepare for Jonah (Jonah 1:17). How long was Jonah in the belly of the great fish?

Note: This was a special fish that God had prepared for Jonah. It had to have a cavity with air so that Jonah could breathe and Jonah had to be protected from being digested.

The length of time Jonah spent in the belly of the fish was a type of the length of time that Jesus spent in the tomb, from His burial until He left the tomb at the end of the Sabbath, a time of three days and three nights (Matthew 12:38-40). This was the only sign that Jesus gave that He was the Messiah.


Scripture Reading:

Jonah's Disobedience

(Jonah 1 NKJV) "Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, {2} "Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me." {3} But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.

The Storm at Sea

{4} But the LORD sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship was about to be broken up. {5} Then the mariners were afraid; and every man cried out to his god, and threw the cargo that was in the ship into the sea, to lighten the load. But Jonah had gone down into the lowest parts of the ship, had lain down, and was fast asleep. {6} So the captain came to him, and said to him, "What do you mean, sleeper? Arise, call on your God; perhaps your God will consider us, so that we may not perish." {7} And they said to one another, "Come, let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this trouble has come upon us." So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah. {8} Then they said to him, "Please tell us! For whose cause is this trouble upon us? What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?" {9} 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."

Jonah Thrown into the Sea

{10} Then the men were exceedingly afraid, and said to him, "Why have you done this?" For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them. {11} Then they said to him, "What shall we do to you that the sea may be calm for us?"; for the sea was growing more tempestuous. {12} And 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 this great tempest is because of me." {13} Nevertheless the men rowed hard to return to land, but they could not, for the sea continued to grow more tempestuous against them. {14} Therefore they cried out to the LORD and said, "We pray, O LORD, please do not let us perish for this man's life, and do not charge us with innocent blood; for You, O LORD, have done as it pleased You." {15} So they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. {16} Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice to the LORD and took vows.

Jonah's Prayer and Deliverance

{17} Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights."

Golden Text:

(Jonah 1:17 NKJV) "Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights."

All Questions: See Scripture Reading.