Bible Book of the Month


Lesson # 1

"Jonah Running Away From God"

     TEXT:  Jonah Chapter 1:1-17
         Jonah is a book that is minor in bulk, but major in significance.
  1:1    The terminology here points to genuineness.  A common
                 introductory formula is used in the inspired literature of the

            Compare : Hosea 1:1; Zeph. 1:1;  Joel 1:1;  Micah 1:1; 
            It is the same formula beginning to indicate the authorship of
                 the book.  Not only it is a book about Jonah, but by Jonah.

            QUESTION:  In what way is this book different from the
                 other prophets as a book?

     1:2    "Nineveh" = "That great city"
            This commission no more authoritative than the great
                 commission of Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16;15. (Let's not be
                 too hard on Jonah lest we fall into our own condemnation.)
            Attention is focused on Jonah and not on Nineveh.

     1:3    "from the presence of the Lord" -- not because he had a
                 narrow sense of God as a local deity, (see verse 9). But
                 presence here means "to stand before", "to be before" (cf. I
                 Kings 17:1; 18:15; 2 Kings 3;14, 5:16).  It means that Jonah
                 was resigning from the ministry, abandoning his office of a
                 prophet.  He knew what God meant.

            What was his motive for resigning?  1) fear of personal
                 danger? 2) Fear of being proved a prophet of lies?  3) Feared
                 Assyria for the sake of his people?  4) Reluctant to preach to
                 heathen people?  5) "I've done enough, let someone else go!" 
                 6) "They would laugh me to scorn?"

     1:3    "paid fare"  He was not a stow-a-way.

     1:4-16 Various technical nautical terms are used in this section which
                 again bears evidence to the truthfulness of the story.

            QUESTION:  Did the men know why Jonah was fleeing?


         1.  Great City   v.2
         2.  Great Refusal    v.3
         3.  Great Storm    v. 4
         4.  Great Fish     v.17
         5.  Great God    4:2
         6.  Great Prophesy   4:1
         7.  Great Deliverance    3:10
     1:7    Casting lots is not now a mode of divine revelation.  God's
                 hand was in the storm, and here  in the lots  (Cf. Acts 1;26). 
            Many men have run into storms when they were not running
                 from God.  It is not a proper exegesis to say that when we run
                 into a storm that something is wrong.

     1:10   Give the men some credit.  They didn't have the revelation that
                 Jonah had --  he had the Pentateuch.

     1:11   Sea "continuously agitated"

     1:12   QUESTION:  How did Jonah know this?

     1:13   QUESTION:  Why didn't Jonah just jump overboard?

     1:16   Note the sensitivity of the rugged heathen seamen? 

            Note their fear of the LORD and sacrifice and vows.
            The missionary activity of Jonah was not limited to Nineveh.

     1:17   "God prepared"  Nothing in the Hebrew would indicate that
                 God specially created this sea monster at this time.  The
                 significance is that He brought or appointed it to be at this
                 spot.  It is possible, however, that he did create it specially.

     1:16   "Three days and three nights" --  The Hebrews doesn't mean
                 three 24 hour periods, but one full day and parts of a
                 beginning day and an ending day.

            Examples of comparable English:  "I worked all last week", or
                 "I was in school all week."

            Compare Daniel 1:1 and Jeremiah 25:1 and note difference in
                 the Hebrew and Babylonian methods of reckoning time.

     1:17   The objection that a sea-monster could not swallow a man is
                 childish and grossly inaccurate.  There is abundance of
                 evidence of large objects being swallowed whole.  But still, we
                 believe Jonah's preservation a miracle of God.

         Questions on Jonah chapter 1

     1.     What message came to Jonah?

     2.     What can you learn about Nineveh?

     3.     What does "cry out against" Nineveh mean?

     4.     To what place did Jonah seek to flee and where was it located?
     5.     When one wants to evade his responsibilities to God, the
                 means are usually easy to find.  Why do you think Jonah
                 wanted to run away?
     6.     What was the source of the great wind?

     7.     How did the mariners try to save the ship?

     8.     Where was Jonah?

     9.     What did the shipmaster tell Jonah to do?

     10.    How did the sailors determine who was the source of their

     11.    What questions did they ask Jonah?

     12.    Jonah told them the ____________ of __________ made
                 the sea and the dry land.

     13.    What effect did this information of verse 9 have on the

     14.    What solution did Jonah suggest?

     15.    What did the sailors ask in their prayer to God?
     16.    When the Sea "ceased from her raging," what did the
                 sailors do?
     17.    Is it likely these men spread this story when they landed?
                                                                       --Windell Gann
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