Day 270: The Book of Jonah

(The Book of Jonah was the fifth of the twelve books that made up the minor prophet section of the Old Testament. Jonah was a prophet that, along with Obadiah, preceded all of the books in the major prophet section of the Old Testament. Jonah's message focused on how and why Assyria averted punishment for over one hundred years. Although this book was relatively short, it contained a lot of critical Doctrine.)

Jonah 1
1 Now the word of Jehovah came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,
2 Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.

(God told Jonah to go to Nineveh because their wickedness had come up before God. The angels had said the same thing about Sodom ("the cry of them has waxed great before Jehovah...") in Genesis 19:13. Nineveh was the capital of Assyria. Notice, God told Jonah to cry against Nineveh. God was giving Nineveh a warning before He would judge them, even though they were a heathen nation.)

3 But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of Jehovah; and he went down to Joppa, and 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 Jehovah.

(Jonah ran from the presence of Jehovah by taking a ship to Tarshish. Was Jonah afraid of the Ninevites? Did he really think he could run away from God?)

4 But Jehovah sent out a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken.

(God caused a mighty tempest (storm, whirlwind) in the sea so strong that the ship was likely to be broken. God had complete control over inanimate objects, the weather, and animals. Here, God took control over the weather, and possibly the ship in making sure it did not break.)

5 Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god; and they cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it unto them. But Jonah was gone down into the innermost parts of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep.

(Jonah was asleep in the bottom of the ship during the storm. Perhaps Jonah was more comfortable losing his life than speaking against the Ninevites.)

6 So the shipmaster came to him, and said unto him, What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not.

(The sailors wanted Jonah to join them in praying to his God to save the men from death.)

7 And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah.

(The men on ship "cast lots" to find out who caused the tempest. They knew that a person was the cause of this storm. The lot fell on Jonah.)

8 Then said they unto him, Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this evil is upon us; what is thine occupation? and whence comest thou? what is thy country? and of what people art thou?

(The sailors did not immediately judge Jonah, they asked Jonah a series of questions. They wanted to know who he was and where he came from.)

9 And he said unto them, I am a Hebrew; and I fear Jehovah, the God of heaven, who hath made the sea and the dry land.

(Jonah answered all their questions except "for whose cause this evil is upon us.")

10 Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him, What is this that thou hast done? For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of Jehovah, because he had told them.

(The men knew Jonah was running from Jehovah and asked why he was running.)

11 Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? for the sea grew more and more tempestuous.
12 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.

(Jonah confessed that he was the cause of the storm and suggested they throw him overboard. Again, Jonah appeared to be more comfortable dying than facing the Ninevites.)

13 Nevertheless the men rowed hard to get them back to the land; but they could not: for the sea grew more and more tempestuous against them.

(The men first tried to get to shore in their own power. The storm grew. Since we know the storm was from God, it was possible that God caused the storm to increase.)

14 Wherefore they cried unto Jehovah, and said, We beseech thee, O Jehovah, we beseech thee, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not upon us innocent blood; for thou, O Jehovah, hast done as it pleased thee.
15 So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea; and the sea ceased from its raging.

(Jonah prayed and the men threw him overboard, and the storm ceased.)

16 Then the men feared Jehovah exceedingly; and they offered a sacrifice unto Jehovah, and made vows.

(The storm stopped after Jonah was thrown out. This built the faith of the men to the point they made vows to Jonah's God.)

17 And Jehovah prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah; and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

(God prepared a fish to swallow Jonah. God had complete control over animals. This passage did not say "whale." Jonah was there three days and three nights. Jesus referenced this verse when He prophesied of His death and resurrection (Matthew 12:39-41). Notice, Jonah was in the belly of the fish three nights. Actually, contrary to man-made tradition, Jesus was also in the belly of the earth for three nights.)

Jonah 2
1 Then Jonah prayed unto Jehovah his God out of the fish's belly.

(Jonah prayed while inside the fish. Whatever kind of fish this was, apparently it made enough oxygen for Jonah to be conscious while inside its belly. This verse appeared to state it took Jonah three days and three nights for his heart to soften enough to obey God. Whatever the reason Jonah had for not wanting to speak to the Ninevites, it was a strong enough reason in Jonah's heart that it took three nights in the belly of a fish to soften. Our short term memory only lasts two to three days. Whatever strong emotion we feel in the moment concerning an event will lessen when it gets removed from the short term memory in two to three days.)

2 And he said, I called by reason of mine affliction unto Jehovah, And he answered me; Out of the belly of Sheol cried I, And thou heardest my voice.
3 For thou didst cast me into the depth, in the heart of the seas, And the flood was round about me; All thy waves and thy billows passed over me.
4 And I said, I am cast out from before thine eyes; Yet I will look again toward thy holy temple.

(Jonah confessed to God.)

5 The waters compassed me about, even to the soul; The deep was round about me; The weeds were wrapped about my head.

(The waters surrounded Jonah "even to the soul.")

6 I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; The earth with its bars closed upon me for ever: Yet hast thou brought up my life from the pit, O Jehovah my God.
7 When my soul fainted within me, I remembered Jehovah; And my prayer came in unto thee, into thy holy temple.

(When Jonah's "soul fainted" he remembered God. Jonah had to learn through experience.)

8 They that regard lying vanities Forsake their own mercy.
9 But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that which I have vowed. Salvation is of Jehovah.

(Repentance: Jonah stated what he would do.)

10 And Jehovah spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.

(Again, God was in complete control of the animals. The fish vomited Jonah onto dry land because God spoke to the fish.)

Jonah 3
1 And the word of Jehovah came unto Jonah the second time, saying,
2 Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.

(For the second time, God told Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach (to call out, proclaim) the preaching that God commanded of him.)

3 So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of Jehovah. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city, of three days' journey.

(Jonah was repentant. Jonah followed God's command.)

4 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.

(Jonah proclaimed that Nineveh would be overthrown in forty days. God had declared judgment upon Nineveh through Jonah. What was the cause of Nineveh's judgment? From this book, all we know was the similarity between Sodom and Nineveh: their wickedness had come up to God (1:2). What was the cause of Sodom's judgment? Ezekiel 16:49 stated four causes:
1) pride,
2) fulness of bread,
3) prosperous ease (idleness of time), and
4) failed to strengthen the arm of the poor.)

5 And the people of Nineveh believed God; and they proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.

(The Ninevites believed God. They proclaimed a fast and everyone humbled themselves by putting on sackcloth. The Ninevites immediately addressed the first two causes of the judgment on Sodom: pride and fulness of bread by humbling themselves and fasting.)

6 And the tidings reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.
7 And he made proclamation and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; let them not feed, nor drink water;

(A fast was proclaimed and published throughout Nineveh by the king.)

8 but let them be covered with sackcloth, both man and beast, and let them cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in his hands.

(Notice, this decree from the king told people what to do: pray to God and turn from the violence in their hands. Ceasing from work and praying to God definitely addressed cause #3: prosperous ease (idleness of time). It was a call to repentance to turn from the evil way. Ceasing from the violence that was in their hands could have addressed cause #4: strengthening the hand of the poor. There were at least two other references in the Old Testament that showed dealing with the poor affected judgment:
-In Daniel 4:27, Daniel gave Nebuchadnezzar the following ways to delay the judgment that was prophesied in the king's dream: "...break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by showing mercy to the poor..."
-In Amos 8:4, God stated the following about Israel when He was declaring judgment: "Hear this, O ye that would swallow up the needy, and cause the poor of the land to fail."

Also, God had stated to Solomon, in 2 Chronicles 7:14, how to avoid judgment: "If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.")

9 Who knoweth whether God will not turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?

(The people did not expect God to turn away from His anger, they hoped He would. Regardless, the Ninevites addressed at least three (and possibly all four) of the causes for Sodom's judgment. How did God respond to this?)

10 And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil which he said he would do unto them; and he did it not.

(The Ninevites were repentant and God saw their works and repented of the evil He was going to do to them. It appeared that Nineveh's response to do the opposite of the causes of Sodom's judgment caused God to not follow through on what was prophesied through Jonah. Notice, God stated He would have spared Sodom for ten righteous people. As far as we know only three made it out: Lot and his two daughters. Also, God did not spare the world from the Flood for the sake of eight people: Noah, three sons and all four wives. Clearly, more than ten Ninevites confessed and repented. Would God had spared Nineveh if only ten people had addressed the four causes of judgment?)

Jonah 4
1 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry.

(The mercy given to Nineveh made Jonah exceedingly displeased and angry. Why?)

2 And he prayed unto Jehovah, and said, I pray thee, O Jehovah, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I hasted to flee unto Tarshish; for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and abundant in lovingkindness, and repentest thee of the evil.

(Jonah prayed. He stated that he knew God was merciful, slow to anger, and repented of evil but he still got upset that God actually followed through with these attributes towards Nineveh. Jonah gave the reason why he ran from God: Jonah did not believe the prophecy would come to pass. He did not want to be publicly "wrong.")

3 Therefore now, O Jehovah, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.

(Jonah would rather die than continue to live with being publicly wrong. Notice, Jesus called Jonah a prophet in Matthew 12:39. However, what Jonah prophesied did not happen. Another example of this was when Isaiah had prophesied to Hezekiah about his illness ending in death (2 Kings 20 and Isaiah 38), and that did not happen. Jesus also called Isaiah a prophet in Matthew 3:3. In the Bible, a prophet did not just state the effects (what), he also stated the causes (why) so that people could affect the what. Both Jonah and Isaiah stated the causes and the effects, and people altered the results (effects) by addressing the causes.

Truth is a right what with a right why/how. Deception is a right what with a wrong (or no) why/how. Jonah and Isaiah spoke truth even though peoples' responses altered the what that the prophets stated. What this also meant was that even if a person was able to state the right what and it came to pass, it did not mean they were a prophet unless they could also state the right why/how.)

4 And Jehovah said, Doest thou well to be angry?

(God asked Jonah if his anger was doing him any good. Notice, God continued to deal with people through questions...just like He did with Adam, Eve, Cain, etc.)

5 Then Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shade, till he might see what would become of the city.

(Jonah did not respond to God. Instead, Jonah went away from the city...just like he did the first time God told Jonah to speak to the city. Jonah returned to his former thought process. Would God need to have him be "swallowed by another fish"?)

6 And Jehovah God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to deliver him from his evil case. So Jonah was exceeding glad because of the gourd.

(Again, God had complete control over inanimate plants. God prepared a gourd (large plant/bush) to give Jonah shade from the sun. This made Jonah "exceeding glad." In effect, Jonah was "in the belly of this bush"...but this time he was glad.)

7 But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd, that it withered.

(Again, God had complete control over animals. God destroyed the gourd by a worm.)

8 And it came to pass, when the sun arose, that God prepared a sultry east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and requested for himself that he might die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live.

(Again, God had complete control over the weather. Jonah was now in the same frame of mind as he was when he was first in the belly of the fish. If God had complete control over people, He would have directly caused Jonah to confess and repent. Instead, we have seen that God was "All Powerful" over everything that did not have a will: inanimate objects, animals, and the weather. In this one chapter, God used all of these things to reach Jonah.)

9 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.

(God asked Jonah a second question. So far, this entire chapter was a mini-version of the previous three chapters. However, this time, Jonah stated his will that he was in the right. Jonah was not going to confess and repent. Notice, the Book of Job ended with God stating He had complete control over everything that did not have a will before He questioned Job. Job's response was to confess and repent for the two things he had wrongly stated after his suffering began. This chapter actually appeared to be a mini-version of the Book of Job. Would Jonah confess and repent for the thing he wrongly stated after his suffering began?)

10 And Jehovah said, Thou hast had regard for the gourd, for which thou hast not labored, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night:
11 and should not I have regard for 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?

(This book ended with a question from God. We do not know if Jonah responded like Job or not. God asked Jonah if the gourd was greater than Nineveh. God used the gourd as a symbol to Jonah. It was supposed to help him understand that Jonah was not being merciful, slow to anger, etc. towards Nineveh. What is more important: a plant or 120,000 people? How would Jonah have felt if God treated him like he wanted God to treat Nineveh?)

(The Book of Jonah was the fifth of the twelve books that made up the minor prophet section of the Old Testament. Jonah was a prophet whose warnings were heeded to the extent his prophecy did not occur. The Ninevites responded to Jonah's prophecy by addressing three (and possibly all four) of the causes of judgment God declared concerning Sodom from Ezekiel 16:49. Over a hundred years after these events, Assyria was judged. Although this was a relatively short book, it contained a lot of critical Doctrine. In addition to confessing and repenting to avoid God's judgment, it also showed how God had complete control over inanimate objects, animals, and the weather to influence man.)

Day 271

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