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Jonah Chapter One: A Call Rejected March 23, 2005

Posted by mjtilley in Uncategorized.
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This is the first of four entries intended to guide your reading of the book of Jonah between now and Sunday. Hopefully, you’ll take the time to read the book thoughtfully, understanding the full story. As we continue examining this book, we can begin thinking about its applications and lessons.

The book opens with an abrupt introduction to the book’s focus, a man named Jonah.

The only Old Testament reference to this man is II Kings 14:25, where he is noted to have given the king some good news from God about expanding the country’s borders. Jesus references Jonah in Matthew 12, Matthew 16 and Luke 11. All three passages indicate that Jonah’s story was a foretelling of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection.

This man has the privilege of getting a word from the Lord – a direct command from Almighty God – to give a message to the wicked people of Nineveh. This indicates a level of trust that Jonah had likely earned over a lifetime of serving God. But Jonah disappoints by rejecting the clear call, and literally running in the opposite direction. No indication is given as to why the man ran; only that he did so in short order.

However, God’s plan was not thwarted by Jonah’s refusal, nor was God finished with him. Instead, God turns His focus from the wicked city to the erring prophet. God sends a storm after the boat that carried Jonah. While the storm rocks the faith of the sailors, it oddly lulls Jonah to sleep. But the sailors, in an attempt to engage every possible deity, wake Jonah. In the end, it’s clear that Jonah has to be tossed into the sea to spare everyone else.

With Jonah under the waves, the sea returns to its more manageable calm. The sailors see God – the one true God of Creation, not just the lifeless relics they grasped desperately during the tumult – as the supreme and preeminent One and turn to Him for eternal salvation.

The chapter closes with the unbelievable image of Jonah being gobbled up by a big fish just as he begins sinking fast to the bottom of the sea.

Key Questions to Consider:

  • The book opens with God speaking to Jonah. Did God really talk to Jonah? If not, how do you think God communicated with Jonah and is it possible that Jonah simply misunderstood the directive? Does God still communicate today in the same way He did with Jonah?
  • We have to assume that Jonah knew that God is omnipresent (everywhere at all times). So where do you think Jonah was running?
  • Is there any significance – either to the story or to an application for our lives – of Jonah being asleep in the ship while the storm raged?
  • The sailors cast lots (probably throwing dice, drawing straws or some such) to determine who was to blame for the storm. How can we determine God’s will?
  • How do you think that the sailors knew that Jonah had “fled from the presence of the Lord” as noted in verse 10?
  • Why did Jonah say that the way to calm the storm was to throw him overboard?

Tomorrow — Jonah Chapter Two: Salvation is of the Lord

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