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JONAH – REBELLION AND GRACE Selected Scriptures
Presented LIVE on July 12, 2020 I. Introduction
A. Most scholars would agree that Jonah is the third most attacked and ridiculed book in the Bible (after Genesis and Daniel) 1. Why would that be 2. This book contains quite a number of supernatural events
for its small size and its critics don’t like that 3. Moreover those critics know that if they can take Jonah
down, they can inflict a great deal of collateral damage on the reliability of the Scriptures
B. Clarence Darrow was a misguided but brilliant defense attorney 1. He represented John Thomas Scopes in the famous Scopes
Monkey trial a. Scopes had been teaching, contrary to the School
Board’s edict, evolutionary theory to his students b. Darrow believed Mr. Scopes was being treated in a
very prejudicial fashion and so elected to defend him 2. Darrow would many times elect to defend those he
considered downtrodden 3. Clarence Darrow also once represented two men accused of
murdering a small boy in the city of Chicago a. That was back when murder, especially of children,
was vigorously prosecuted in Chicago b. In order to discredit a certain damaging witness,
Clarence Darrow is reported to have declared to the jury,
c. “(His testimony) was about as believable as the story that a whale swallowed Jonah
4. Now I want you to know from the start of things, that Mr. Darrow and I have quite different beliefs when it comes to God’s prophet Jonah, and probably most everything else
5. But I don’t believe a whale swallowed Jonah either C. So what are the reasons for such attacks on the prophet and
Jonah’s short little book? D. There are five primary attacks leveled at this prophecy
1. The abundance of supernatural events contained in the narrative. a. The critics claim that those supernatural events
obviously did not happen, and therefore the book is merely a story concocted for its intended readers
b. Those supernatural feats are only contained in the book to support the existence of God, when in fact He does not exist
2. The unprecedented nature of Jonah's mission to Nineveh. a. When was there ever been such a missionary journey
demanded of an Israelite b. There is no record of any other such calling
3. The supposed exaggeration of the size of Ninevah. a. There were not cities at this time that large
geographically b. Or that Nineveh was home to close to a million people
4. The use of words in the narrative which were not in use at the time that Jonah would have lived, if his story is true and occurred at the time claimed
5. This book was always intended to be an allegory to encourage Israel to reach out to the rest of the world with the message of the one, true God
E. Are there any answers to these attacks? 1. The abundance of supernatural events contained in the
narrative. a. To start with, the attackers commit the logical fallacy
of begging the question, they contend: b. If God is God, He can raise the dead, have a fish
swallow men alive and expel them later. c. These attackers start with the a priori assumption that
there is no God d. Or some may instead claim that there may be a God,
but He does not involve Himself in the affairs of men 2. The unprecedented nature of Jonah's mission to Ninevah.
a. The attackers do not know their history b. Obviously the apostles were sent around their world to
share the good news of salvation c. But there were other Old Testament prophets who had
been sent to foreign nations to testify on God's behalf d. Elijah was sent to Zarephath (I Kings 17:8-24) e. Elisha was sent to Damascus (II Kings 8:7-15)
3. The supposed exaggeration of the size of Ninevah a. The use of the name “Nineveh” could include adjacent
or adjunct population centers (suburbs). b. The latest archaeological findings allow for a
population of the size suggested by Jonah 4. The use of words in the narrative which were not in use at
the time that Jonah would have lived, if his story is true and occurred at the time claimed a. These supposed “late words” have now been found in
earlier books and extra biblical sources. 5. This book was always intended to be an allegory to
encourage Israel to reach out to the rest of the world with the message of the one, true God a. This book was clearly never intended to be an allegory b. What is an allegory? An allegory used as a literary
device, is a narrative in which a fictional character, place, or event is used to deliver a broader message about real-world issues and occurrences.
c. A large majority of the facts set out in the book of Jonah are historically provable, and are clearly not fictional
d. The book is not written as many of the books of prophecy are written, for it a narrative of a portion of the life of the prophet
e. But it is used as an example of how Israel should reach out to the rest of the world
f. And what would happen if the Jewish people would fulfill their calling
g. We should remember at this point Israel’s threefold charter (1) The Messiah (2) The Bible (3) The world
F. What would be the effect of dismissing Jonah as a fictional character along with his book 1. It would seriously jeopardize the authenticity of the book of
II Kings. a. In II Kings 14: 23-25 Jonah is identified as a prophet
of God. b. 2 Kings 14:23-25 In the fifteenth year of Amaziah the
son of Joash king of Judah, Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel became king in Samaria, and reigned forty-one years. 24 He did evil in the sight of the LORD; he did not depart from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel sin. 25 He restored the border of Israel from the entrance of Hamath as far as the Sea of the Arabah, according to the word of the LORD, the God of Israel, which He spoke through His servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet, who was of Gath-hepher.
c. During Jonah’s year’s as a prophet, Israel stood tall among the nations, but only in a political sense
d. During the reign of Jeroboam II, Israel’s borders were expanded to the same extent enjoyed during the reign of King Solomon
2. It would destroy the Godhood of Jesus. a. In Matt. 12:38-41 Jesus authenticates Jonah and the
events described in his book. b. Of the “writing prophets,” Jesus only mentioned four:
Isaiah, Daniel, Zechariah and Jonah c. But unlike any of the other three, Jesus identified
Himself with Jonah d. Consider Matthew 12:38-41 Then some of the scribes
and Pharisees said to Him, "Teacher, we want to see a sign from You." 39 But He answered and said to them,
"An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; 40 for just as JONAH WAS THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS IN THE BELLY OF THE SEA MONSTER, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 "The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment, and will condemn it because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.
e. Jesus sets Jonah up to be a type of Himself and the redemptive plan He would carry through.
3. Jesus establishes unquestionably the authenticity and accuracy of the book of Jonah.
II. We ought to now consider the Major Themes of the book of Jonah A. The sovereignty of God
1. God is always in control 2. He has a plan for everything 3. And his plan can never be thwarted 4. Are their any limitations of God’s “sovereignty”
a. His character (e.g. God cannot tell a lie or be unjust) b. His promises (e.g. God cannot destroy the world with
a worldwide flood) B. The free will of man
1. Jonah like every other human being was a recipient of the gift of free will from God
2. Jonah could choose to do what he wanted, but would be held accountable for his actions
3. So in this account of the actions of God and His reluctant servant, Jonah's free will gave him the right to choose to disobey God.
4. And Jonah elected to disobey God and to put himself into a position where God could not force him to do so
5. This narrative should be seen as a man’s direct challenge to God’s sovereignty
C. God’s immutable foreknowledge 1. Did God know ahead of time that Jonah would choose as
he did? a. Of course He did
b. And God’s intension was to utilized those choices that Jonah made to accomplish God’s predetermined plan
2. God “set things up” to bring about the result He wants. 3. Jonah's actions.
a. To travel in the opposite direction from where God wants him to go.
b. To try to go as far away from where God wanted to go as was possible to do in Jonah's time.
4. God’s methods to motivate Jonah a. A fierce and mighty storm (a storm that frightened
even veteran sailors) b. A great fish God prepared to transport Jonah c. And finally Jonah’s near death experience
D. God’s grace 1. Grace in its foundational meaning is a concept of one who
has the means or authority to bestow unmerited favor on one who clearly does not deserve such favor
2. In Jonah’s narrative, when viewed against the backdrop of the historical record, the inhabitants of Nineveh did not deserve God’s favor which included the opportunity for salvation
3. A stronger case of deservedness could be made for the pagan sailors in the ship, and yet God still extended His grace to them also, so that they could enjoy an opportunity to be saved
4. But that is grace only in its elemental levels 5. For God also showered His grace on our rebellious prophet
a. Was he in need of grace? b. He was a prophet of God, and clearly saved c. What would God’s grace do for Jonah?
6. Consider 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. a. This passage is taken from a narrative drawn from
Paul’s personal experience
b. Paul was a believer and did not need to be saved c. So grace is used here to denote God’s provision
outside of salivation d. It speaks of His power being bestowed on His people e. Notice the indications of the bestowing of power,
strength or might upon Paul by His God through the means of grace
III. A time line for Jonah the Prophet from Gather Hepher IV. Jonah Chapter One
A. Jonah 1:1-2 The word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me.”
B. Jonah name means “Dove”, which is usually considered as a bird symbolizing peace. 1. The Dove has even been used to represent Israel. 2. Psalm 68:13 When you lie down among the sheepfolds,
You are like the wings of a dove covered with silver, And its pinions with glistening gold.
3. Psalm 74:19 Do not deliver the soul of Your turtledove to the wild beast; Do not forget the life of Your afflicted forever.
C. God communicated directly with His prophet, but how, we are not told.
D. Jonah was the son of Amittai 1. Jonah’s father’s name, Amittai, means truth or truthful. 2. Jonah was from the town of Gath-Hepher, a few miles
north of Nazareth. E. Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian Empire.
1. The city of Nineveh a. It was located on the Tigris River about 550 miles
northeast of Samaria. b. From Samaria it would have taken Jonah about a
month to travel there. c. Nineveh was the greatest of the cities of its time and
was surrounded by multiple support communities. d. It had an inner wall and an outer wall
(1) The inner wall was 50 feet wide and 100 feet high and had about 1500 towers extending up from it.
(2) The outer wall was thick enough that you could drive several chariots around it at the same time.
e. It had a population of between 600,000 to 1,200,000 persons.
2. The people were polytheistic and held the pagan god Asshur out as their chief deity, They also worshiped a pantheon of other gods a. Anu b. Bez c. Ea d. Sin (moon) e. Shamash (sun) f. Ishtar (crescent moon and stars), who was generally
considered to be Asshur’s consort 3. The Assyrians were extremely cruel and blood thirsty.
a. They treated the vanquished with ruthlessness and cruelty.
b. Eg. The ripping apart of a person by pulling their limbs by four teams of horses.
c. The mound of skulls d. Tongue tied and buried
F. “Their wickedness has come up before me” 1. Hebrew idiom: The smell of their sin is starting to be too
strong. 2. The king of Nineveh admitted it [“ But both man and beast
must be covered with sackcloth; and let men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands. (Jonah 3:8)]
3. Later the Lord refers to the inhabitants of the city’s return to their wickedness, in the book of Nahum. a. Nahum 1:1a, 11 The oracle of Nineveh. From you
has gone forth One who plotted evil against the LORD, A wicked counselor.
b. Nahum 2:12 - 3:1, 19 The lion tore enough for his cubs, Killed enough for his lionesses, And filled his lairs with prey And his dens with torn flesh. 13 "Behold, I am against you," declares the LORD of hosts. "I will burn up her chariots in smoke, a sword will devour your young lions; I will cut off your prey
from the land, and no longer will the voice of your messengers be heard." 1 Woe to the bloody city, completely full of lies and pillage; Her prey never departs. 19 There is no relief for your breakdown, Your wound is incurable. All who hear about you Will clap their hands over you, For on whom has not your evil passed continually?
c. Nahum 3:4-7 All because of the many harlotries of the harlot, The charming one, the mistress of sorceries, Who sells nations by her harlotries And families by her sorceries. 5 "Behold, I am against you," declares the LORD of hosts; "And I will lift up your skirts over your face, And show to the nations your nakedness And to the kingdoms your disgrace. 6 "I will throw filth on you And make you vile, And set you up as a spectacle. 7 "And it will come about that all who see you Will shrink from you and say, 'Nineveh is devastated! Who will grieve for her?' Where will I seek comforters for you?"
G. God had picked this time to send Jonah to Nineveh because everything was set up 1. Assyria had been in a politically weakened state for some
time 2. They had dissolved from a once noble culture to a cruel and
barbaric civilization V. Jonah 1:3 Jonah runs from God
A. Jonah 1:3 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.
B. Jonah seeks to go the opposite direction from Nineveh. 1. Tarshish is on the southern coast of Spain. 2. Its approximately 2500 miles from Israel 3. It’s the farthest place west that was known of to Jonah, it
was the end of the world C. Does Jonah really expect to be able to run away from God?
1. Do we ever run away from God? 2. Do we ever ignore God? 3. Turn our back on God?
4. Consider David’s thoughts on this question Psalm 139:1-12 A Psalm of David. O LORD, You have searched me and known me. 2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. 3 You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways. 4 Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O LORD, You know it all. 5 You have enclosed me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it. 7 Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? 8 If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. 9 If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, 10 Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me. 11 If I say, "Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night," 12 Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You.
VI. Some final thoughts A. God gave us the Book of Jonah to teach us about ourselves.
1. On the Day of Atonement in all Jewish synagogues, the priest would read the Book of Jonah.
2. The people would respond after the readings "we are Jonah". a. We are Jonah in our disobedience. b. We are Jonah in his insensitivity to others. c. We are Jonah in our unhappiness with God's plan. d. We are Jonah in our selfishness.
B. We can also see God, patient, and full of grace. 1. Are you in need of God’s grace 2. His grace is not just something He extends at the time of
justification 3. It is also a part of the inheritance God lovingly grants to
His children 4. And believe me it is much more than a mere concept
C. We must come to realize before we enjoy this narrative that 1. At ground level it is a fish tale at first 2. But it is so much more and so much deeper than that
3. It is a promise of the resurrection of Christ 4. It is a promise of salvation by faith and not works 5. It is a promise of God’s unstoppable grace 6. It is a promise of our Lord’s faithfulness even when we are
unfaithful 7. It is a promise that our God sits as LORD of all, Jew and
Gentile D. There is one final question that I want you to ask yourself and
consider 1. Do you ever find yourself fighting God?
a. Your desires pulling you one way b. And God’s desires for you pulling you the other way c. Jonah found himself in exactly that situation d. Refusing to be forced is what holiness is all about
2. While Jonah eventually relented and proclaimed God’s message with great power, the lessons of this book does not end there a. Although God uses Jonah to redirect the lives of a
million people, he wasn’t happy about it b. Hence the story of the worm and the gourd c. And how God uses a process to align our desires with
His d. Jonah illustrates to us that just because we go through
the motions of obeying God, doesn’t mean our hearts are aligned with His
e. God wants to find men and women with hearts after His own heart
© 2020 – Believer’s Bible Class, & Douglas W. Brady