Jonah 1:1-6

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015



According to II Kings 14:23-25 , Jonah was a servant of the Lord from Gath Hepher, which was located in the tribe of Zebulun about half way from the Sea of Galilee to the Mediterranean. Jonah lived when Jereboam II was king of the northern kingdom. Jereboam II reigned from 793-753.

II Kings 14:23-25 - 23 In the fifteenth year of Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel began to reign in Samaria, and reigned forty and one years. 24 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD: he departed not from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin. 25 He [i.e. Jereboam II, the son of Joash] restored the coast of Israel from the entering of Hamath unto the sea of the plain, according to the word of the LORD God of Israel, which he spake by the hand of his servant Jonah, the son of Amittai, the prophet, which was of Gathhepher.

Jonah was a contemporary of Hosea and Amos. He preceded Micah by a few years. In Amos 5:7 , Amos had prophesied that Israel would be sent into captivity beyond Damascus.

Amos 5:27 - Therefore will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus, saith the LORD, whose name is The God of hosts.

Although Amos did not specify that Israel would go into captivity to the Assyrians, Hosea did prophesy this in Hosea 11:5 .

Hosea 11:1-7 - 1 When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt. 2 As they called them, so they went from them: they sacrificed unto Baalim, and burned incense to graven images. 3 I taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms; but they knew not that I healed them. 4 I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love: and I was to them as they that take off the yoke on their jaws, and I laid meat unto them [I bent down and fed them]. 5 He [i.e. Israel] shall not return into the land of Egypt, but the Assyrian shall be his king, because they refused to return [i.e. to return from their idolatry to worshiping the LORD]. 6 And the sword shall abide on his [i.e. Israel's] cities, and shall consume his branches, and devour them, because of their own counsels. 7 And my people are bent to backsliding from me: though they called them to the most High, none at all would exalt him.

Nineveh was situated on the east bank of the Tigris River across the Tigris River from the city of Mosul in modern Iraq, which is located on the west side of the Tigris River.

Nineveh was the capital of one of the cruelest, vilest, most powerful, and most idolatrous empires in the world. For example, writing of one of his conquests, Ashurnasirpal II (883-859) boasted, "I stormed the mountain peaks and took them. In the midst of the mighty mountain I slaughtered them; with their blood I dyed the mountain red like wool. . . . The heads of their warriors I cut off, and I formed them into a pillar over against their city; their young men and their maidens I burned in the fire" (Luckenbill, Ancient Records of Assyria and Babylonia, 1:148). Regarding one captured leader, he wrote, "I flayed [him], his skin I spread upon the wall of the city ... " (ibid., 1:146). He also wrote of mutilating the bodies of live captives and stacking their corpses in piles.

Shalmaneser II (859-824) boasted of his cruelties after one of his campaigns: "A pyramid of heads I reared in front of his city. Their youths and their maidens I burnt up in the flames" (ibid., 1:213). Sennacherib (705-681) wrote of his enemies, "I cut their throats like lambs. I cut off their precious lives [as one cuts] a string. Like the many waters of a storm I made [the contents of] their gullets and entrails run down upon the wide earth. . . . Their hands I cut off" (ibid., 2:127).

Ashurbanipal (669-626) described his treatment of a captured leader in these words: "I pierced his chin with my keen hand dagger. Through his jaw . . . I passed a rope, put a dog chain upon him and made him occupy . . . a kennel" (ibid., 2:319). In his campaign against Egypt, Ashurbanipal also boasted that his officials hung Egyptian corpses "on stakes [and] stripped off their skins and covered the city wall(s) with them" (ibid., 2:295).

No wonder Nahum called Nineveh "the city of blood" (3:1), a city noted for its "cruelty"! (Nahum 3:19 )

Ashurbanipal was egotistic: "I [am Ashurbanipal, the great [king], the mighty king, king of the universe, king of Assyria .... The great gods ... magnified my name; they made my rule powerful" (ibid., 2:323-4). Esarhaddon was even more boastful. "I am powerful, I am all powerful, I am a hero, I am gigantic, I am colossal, I am honored, I am magnified, I am without equal among all kings the chosen one of Asshur, Nabu, and Marduk" (ibid., 2:226).

Gross idolatry was practiced in Nineveh and throughout the Assyrian Empire. The religion of Assyria was Babylonian in origin but in Assyria the national god was Assur, whose high priest and representative was the king.

Inasmuch as Hosea prophesied that Israel would go into captivity to Assyria, it makes sense that Jonah wanted God to destroy Assyria so that they would not do these horrible things to Israel.

We see -

I. The Disobedience of Jonah - 1:1 - 2:10

First, we see -

A. The commission of the prophet - 1:1-2

Jonah 1:1 Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,

Jonah 1:2 Arise, go to Nineveh [Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian empire and was located about 550 miles northeast of Samaria, the capital of the northern kingdom.] - Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up [i.e. their wickedness has come up] before me.

Jonah clearly understood the mission God was sending him on.

Second, we see -

B. The disobedience of the prophet - 1:3

Jonah 1:3 But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish [i.e. to flee to southern Spain] from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa [also known as Joffa, out of which Tel-Aviv has grown.]; 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.

How can you flee from the presence of the LORD inasmuch as He is omnipresent?

Matthew 28:20 - Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Psalms 139:7-12 - 7 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? 8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell [i.e. Sheol], behold, thou art there. 9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost [i.e. remotest] parts of the sea; 10 Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. 11 If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. 12 Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.

Again I ask, how can you flee from the presence of the LORD inasmuch as He is omnipresent? The answer is the same - you can't. So why did Jonah not go to Nineveh as God had commanded?

It seems likely that Jonah knew that God was compassionate and merciful and would forgive the Assyrians if they repented, but Jonah didn't want the Assyrians to be forgiven. He wanted them to be destroyed. If they were destroyed, they would not be able to conquer Israel as Hosea had prophesied.

Third, we see -

C. The consequences of the prophet's disobedience - 1:4 - 2:10

It's never good to disobey God. God in His sovereignty controlled everything - The call of His servant, His servant's rebellion, the wind, the unsaved sailors, the conclusion that the reason for the storm was the fault of someone on board the ship, the casting of the lots, the great calm, the preservation of Jonah's life, the great fish, the rescue of Jonah, the preaching in Nineveh, the repentance of the Ninevites, the vine, the worm, the vehement east wind, and the sun.

God likewise controls things in our lives.

Psalms 37:23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

God sent -

1. The great wind - 1:4-16

Note -

a. The distress of the sailors - 1:4-5a

Jonah 1:4 But the LORD sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest [i.e. a great storm, a violent storm] in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken [i.e. was about to be broken up].

Jonah 1:5 a - Then the mariners [i.e. the sailors] were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship [i.e. they threw the cargo that was in the ship] into the sea, to lighten it of them [i.e. to lighten the load]. . . .

Note also -

b. The complacency of Jonah - 1:5b-6

Jonah 1:5 b - . . . But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship [i.e. into the lowest parts of the ship, into the hold]; and he lay [i.e. and had laid down], and was fast asleep [i.e. was sound asleep, in a deep sleep]. 6 So the shipmaster [i.e. the captain] came to him, and said unto him, What meanest thou, O sleeper? [i.e. How can you be sleeping?] arise [i.e. get up!], call upon thy God, if so be that God [i.e. Maybe your God, Perhaps your God] will think upon us [i.e. will consider us], that we perish not [i.e. so that we will not perish].


This sermon is the 1st part of the series, Study of Jonah. Other sermons in this series are: