In Jonah, He's the Great Missionary
Jonah...the man, the mission
Jonah, as many know, is the central character in the book of the Bible named after him...the book of Jonah. He was commanded by God to go to the city of Nineveh to prophesy against it because of its wickedness and rebellion against God.
Jonah, instead, decides that he just isn't brave enough to go to such a corrupt city, and runs as far and as fast as he possibly can. He pays for his passage on a ship that is going in the opposite direction of where God wants him to go. On the high sea, a storm begins to rage, rocking the boat with its mighty waves, scaring all the crewmen and other passengers on board. The crewmen, knowing that this storm is no ordinary storm, starts to think among themselves if there is a reason, or person, on board their ship that might be causing such angry wrath from the God of all Heaven and Earth.
When Jonah finally admits to what he has done, he tells the sailors to throw him overboard, and that only then will the storm cease. These men, being fellow human beings, don't want to throw a man overboard, and, so, they start throwing other items off their ship...cargo, food, supplies, etc. After some time, however, they feel they have no other choice but to throw Jonah overboard as he has told them. When they do, the raging storm immediately calms.
The boat, and all those on board, fare much better than does Jonah. He is swallowed by a great fish, in which he spends three days and three nights. Having nothing else to do to bide his time, Jonah prays the whole time he's in the belly of this great fish. He knows he has disobeyed God, and he gives repentance and asks for forgiveness. Jonah makes known to God that he is ready to obey and do what God has sent him to do. And, so, the great fish vomited Jonah out onto the shore near Nineveh.
Upon entering the city, Jonah proclaimed the coming judgment and wrath of God from one end of the city to the other, and to everyone who would listen to him. The king, himself, put on sackcloth and sat in ashes, declaring fasting and prayer and repentance for all of Nineveh's citizens. God knows the hearts of men, and He knew that the king's heart, and the hearts of his subjects, were true in their repentance. The city was spared His great judgment and wrath.
Jonah leaves the city, awaiting the sights of a city being destroyed by the hand of God. As Jonah is sitting outside the city waiting, God causes a vine to grow to give shelter and shade to Jonah; but, then God caused a worm to eat the vine to nothing. This upset and angered Jonah, so much so that he wanted to die.
God asked if Jonah had a right to be angry. Jonah replied that he did. God told Jonah that he did not have a right to be angry at the vine. God further explained to Jonah that he neither planted and/or tended the vine, and that to be angry was simple futile.
This is the explanation God gave in regards to His saving of the city of Nineveh; Jonah neither created the city nor tended it, and should, therefore, have no right to be angry that the city would not be destroyed.
Jonah is a type of the nation of Israel.
- Jonah was chosen as a witness; the nation of Israel was chosen as a witness. Deuteronomy 14:2--"For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the Lord has chosen you to be His treasured people."
- Jonah was commissioned of God; the nation of Israel was commissioned of God. Isaiah 44:8--"Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one."
- Jonah was disobedient to the will of the Lord; the nation of Israel was disobedient to the will of the Lord. Mark 7:6-9--"He replied, 'Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: "These people honor Me with their lips, but their hears are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men." You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.' And He said to them: 'You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions.'"
- Jonah went among men of different nationalities; the nation of Israel went among men of different nationalities. Deuteronomy 4:27--"The Lord will scatter you among the people, and only a few of you will survive among the nations to which the Lord will drive you."
- Jonah was among the heathen when the heathen came to know God; the nation of Israelite was among the heathen when the heathen came to know God. Hebrews 11:11--"Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious."
- Jonah was miraculously preserved; the nation of Israel was miraculously preserved. Jeremiah 30:11--"'I am with you and will save you,' declares the Lord. 'Though I completely destroy all the nations among which I scatter you, I will not completely destroy you. I will discipline you but only with justice; I will not let you go entirely unpunished.'"
Jonah is a type of Christ.
Jonah had a special message, one of judgment...Jonah 1:2--"'Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against t, because its wickedness has come up before Me.'"; Jesus had a special message, one of salvation...John 3:14-15--"'Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life.'"
Jonah was thrown into the water when a storm came up...Jonah 1:15--"Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm."; Jesus calmed the storm...Matthew 8:26--"He replied, 'You of little faith, why are you so afraid?' Then He got up and rebuked thew winds and the waves, and it was completely calm."
Jonah cried out from the fish...Jonah 2:2--"He said: 'In my distress I called out the Lord, and He answered me. From the depths of the grace I called for help, and you listened to my cry."; Jesus cried out from the cross...Matthew 27:46--"About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, 'Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?'-which means, 'My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?'"
Jonah rose from the fish on the third day...Jonah 1:17--"But the Lord provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights."; Jesus rose from the grave on the third day...Luke 24:7--"'The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.'"
Jonah preached after his resurrection from the fish...Jonah 3:3a--"Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh."; Jesus preached after his resurrection from the grave...John 20:10-18 (Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene), John 20:19-23 (Jesus appears to His disciples), John 20:24-31 (Jesus appears to Thomas), John 21:1-13 (Jesus and the miraculous catch of fish), John 21:15-25 (Jesus reinstates Peter) and Acts 1:1-11 (Jesus taken up into Heaven).
The Four I's
- INDIFFERENCE, to God's commands. Jonah 1:2-3--"'Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.' But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord."
- INABILITY, to hide from God. Jonah 1:4--Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up." and Jonah 1:17--"But the Lord provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights."
- INSECURITY, in the future. Jonah 1:15--"Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm."
- INCAPABILITY, of helping one's own self. Jonah 1:4-6--"Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship. But Jonah had gone below deck, when he lay down fell into a deep sleep. The captain went to him and said, 'How can you sleep? get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us, and we will not perish.'"
Micah is the next book that we will be exploring. In the book of Micah, the prophet Micah, a younger contemporary of Isaiah, speaks at a time when the condition of Judah (the Southern Kingdom) is in a similar state to that of the condition of Israel (the Northern Kingdom). Micah's messages seem to parallel those of Amos, who was prophesying in the Northern Kingdom at about the same time that Micah was prophesying in the Southern Kingdom. He spoke of a coming judgment from God; but, gave great hope to the coming of the predicted Messiah.