Jonah was a prophet of God. A prophet has the responsibility to speak exactly what God tells him to
speak, when God tells him to speak and where God tells him to speak. By walking outside or contrary to
the direction of God the prophet exposes himself to harm. The Book of Jonah tells of such a man and
how he finally carried out God’s will.
Jonah 1:1-3 (KJV)
1 Now the word of the LORD 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
3 But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to
Joppa; 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.
The reason that Jonah fled isn’t told, but. Jonah was concerned about Nineveh. Nineveh was the
capital city of Assyria. Assyria was always against Israel and Judah. It would have been good in
the eyes of Johan for Nineveh to be destroyed and, yet, God wanted to give Nineveh a chance to
change their ways and not be destroyed.
So Jonah tries to run away from God and his responsibility to God.
Jonah 1:4-15 (KJV)
4 But the LORD sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so
that the ship was like to be broken.
5 Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that
were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the
ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep.
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.
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.
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?
9 And he said unto them, I am an Hebrew; and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, which hath
made the sea and the dry land.
10 Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him, Why hast thou done this? For the
men knew that he fled from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them.
11 Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? for
the sea wrought, and was 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.
13 Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not: for the sea
wrought, and was tempestuous against them.
14 Wherefore they cried unto the LORD, and said, We beseech thee, O LORD, we beseech thee,let us not perish for this man’s life, and lay not upon us innocent blood: for thou, O LORD, hast
done as it pleased thee.
15 So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging.
I think it admirable for the men of that ship to try and save Jonah. I think I would have grabbed
Jonah and thrown him overboard right quick and in a jiffy! But, not these mariners. They did
everything they could to save Jonah. When they saw it was to no avail, they reluctantly tossed
Jonah 1:17 (KJV)
17 Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish
three days and three nights.
Notice it says “fish” and not “whale.” Jonah was swallowed by a big fish.
I have seen pictures of Jonah sitting cross legged in front of a fire while a whale transports him to the
safety of land. This is not at all what happened. When the fish swallowed Jonah, Jonah drown. He was
dead all the time he was in the fish’s belly. How do I know that? Look at Matthew chapter twelve.
Matthew 12:40 (KJV)
40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s (fish’s) belly; so shall the Son of man be
three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
Jesus doesn’t make random comparisons. If Jonah had not died then Jesus could not have used this for a
comparison of him being dead in the grave for three days and three nights.
Jonah 2:10 (KJV)
10 And the LORD spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.
Jonah 3:1-4 (KJV)
1 And the word of the LORD 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.
3 So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh
was an exceeding great city of three days’ journey.
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.
A person can walk at least two miles in an hour and probably more like two and a half or three. But,
even at two miles an hour a person would travel approximately fifty miles in three days. That is a big
Jonah 3:5-10 (KJV)
5 So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from thegreatest of them even to the least of them.
6 For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe
from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.
7 And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king
and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not
feed, nor drink water:
8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn
every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.
9 Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish
10 And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil,
that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.
Do you see what it says in verse five? The people BELIEVED God and they changed their ways. That is
what repent means. It means to change your ways. What is so miraculous about this is ALL of them
believed and ALL repented. Try that in our day and time and you will get a few here and a few there to
believe. But, you won’t find a small town of a hundred that will all believe let alone a city that is fifty
miles in diameter!
The city of Nineveh obeyed God and since they obeyed God did not destroy that city! What a gracious,
kind and merciful God.
When we turn from our own ways unto the light of God’s direction, just like the people of Nineveh, we
will find great deliverance.
Psalm 119:105 (KJV)
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.v