Jonah 2:1-4 (Out of the Belly of Sheol I Cried)

Jonah 2:1-4
Out of the Belly of Sheol I Cried

God gives us free will, and he allows us to exercise that free will even to our own detriment, but one thing that will never happen is that we will somehow thwart His will, His plans, and His purposes – both for ourselves and for those we are destined to influence.

This may seem contradictory, but it is not. God uses our choices, which He knew we would make, to accomplish His will and also to bring glory to Himself. We can’t use the “suicide” argument to say, see I’m going to beat God at His own game, because we’re making the incorrect assumption that we’re doing something that He didn’t expect. In the end, the only one who loses is us.

Jonah tried to get around God’s intent and purposes, but as we saw last week, God used nature and a group of Gentiles – men who didn’t know the One true God – to show him the error of his ways. If Jonah ended with chapter 1, we might assume that God’s plans hadn’t been accomplished.

In the same way, if the Bible ended with the Old Testament, then we could very well assume that the devil had won because paradise wasn’t restored and only the promise of a curse remained. But we know better. And so, when we’re done today, make sure to anticipate the rest of Chapter 2, and the final two chapters to see how God is vindicated in His intent and purpose for the Ninevites.

Likewise, Jesus Christ defeated the devil and brought about a great salvation for the souls of the world. The promise made at the very fall of man occurred exactly as it should. And yet, it was a promise which came about in a wholly unexpected way for the people who awaited their Messiah.

Text Verse: The waters flowed over my head;
I said, “I am cut off!”
55 I called on Your name, O Lord,
From the lowest pit.
56 You have heard my voice:
“Do not hide Your ear
From my sighing, from my cry for help.” Habakkuk 3:54-56

For Jonah, his deliverance was completely unexpected. It was not until he was in the belly of this fish that he realized things would work out as they should. I hope you’ll enjoy today’s sermon and that you’ll benefit from the amazing words Jonah passes on to us concerning his move from rebellion to repentance and obedience.

His prayer, like several other prayers in the Bible, is so beautiful and so heartfelt that it needs to be thought on and considered, not just read quickly and forgotten. Other prayers like this one are spoken by Hannah, David, Daniel, Nehemiah, Solomon, Hezekiah, Mary, etc. Each is recorded to give us insights into repentant, grateful, or petitioning hearts, and how God responds to them.

He placed these prayers in here for our benefit and we skip, or merely skim over, them at our own loss. Understanding what God responds to and why is of such great value in our walk with the Lord. Such treasures like Jonah’s prayer are to be found in His superior word. And so let’s turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. I Cried out to the Lord (verses 1 & 2)

We will be looking at what occurs before Jonah’s time in the belly of the fish, and yet the prayer is made from the fish’s belly. As most people consider that this was the sign which Jesus is referring to concerning Himself before the people of Israel, it is now, before we start looking at the verses, to determine if that is correct.

What is, in fact, the sign of Jonah? Is it that he was in the belly of the fish for 3 days and nights, or is it something else which hinges on the safe delivery of Jonah which necessitated the Lord’s intervention? The first thing to look at is that the Lord prepared a great fish to swallow him.

Secondly, there’s no doubt the account is true. Nowhere is it indicated that the story is merely allegorical. Jesus himself referenced it when referring to His own death and burial. There’s no reason why we should think He was citing this as allegory, or that He was merely accommodating His audience. He spoke as if it were a true account, because it is.

And because it says the Lord “prepared” a great fish, we know that it was appointed specifically for this moment in time to deliver him. Just as He appointed each step of David’s life to lead to, and continue him in the kingship, He appointed a fish for Jonah’s delivery. With God, all things are possible, and there is no problem with this account.

In the last sermon, we learned about the meaning of “three days and three nights” and how it can mean something less than 72 hours – indeed, it can mean much less. To demonstrate this from a different account in the gospels, we can go to that of the Transfiguration. First we’ll read the account from Matthew and then the same account from Luke –

“Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.” Matthew 17:1, 2

“Now it came to pass, about eight days after these sayings, that He took Peter, John, and James and went up on the mountain to pray. As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening.” Luke 9:28, 29

In one account it says “after six days” and in the other it says “about eight days after” There’s no contradiction here. Matthew is speaking about a six day period followed by the day they went up the mountain. Luke is speaking about a seven day period from the previous account. This would have been “about eight days earlier.” In other words, a beginning and ending day with six in the middle.

We speak in exactly the same terms in English all the time based on who we’re talking to and the reference we’re using. We need not worry – the account of Jesus’ crucifixion and subsequent resurrection is clearly laid out in the Bible, and that information has been provided in the written notes of the last sermon.

Jesus rode the donkey into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and He was crucified on a Friday. After this, He rose on a Sunday. The account is easily followed when properly laid out. And as I noted, thirteen times in the New Testament it says He rose on the third day. This is repeated in all four gospels, in Acts, and in 1 Corinthians.

Understanding this, the fourth point to determine is what is the sign Jesus is speaking about. On the surface, it appears that Matthew is saying that the sign of Jonah was that of him being in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights. After saying this, He said that He would be likewise in the belly of the earth.

In other words, the sign seems to be is His death and resurrection. But Luke leaves out the timeframe and the entire account of the fish. When he does this, he clears up the context – that the sign of Jonah is his preaching, and what that preaching stated… that destruction was decreed in 40 days. Looking at these verses in their proper light clearly shows that the preaching to the Ninevites was the sign. Here’s what Luke says –

“‘“And while the crowds were thickly gathered together, He began to say, “This is an evil generation. It seeks a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah the prophet. 30 For as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so also the Son of Man will be to this generation. 31 The queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here. 32 The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here.”’” Luke 11:29-32

The sign is the preaching, which if rejected, would lead to destruction after 40 days. If we go back to Matthew and re-read what he presented there, we can see that Jesus does tell of His coming death and burial, but the sign is, like in Luke, the preaching in Nineveh. The resurrection bears witness to the truth of His preaching, which was to an already unbelieving people:

“‘“Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.”
39 But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here. 42 The queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here.”’” Matthew 12:39-41

Jesus’ words of the kingdom and of repentance to “this generation” are the ultimate sign of who He was. Other prophets spoke in the name of the Lord. On the other hand, Jesus spoke in His own name, under His own authority, and as the Son of the Father – “indeed a greater than Jonah is here.”

Can we substantiate this? Yes. He says at other times and under different contexts that He would be crucified and would rise on the third day as a confirmation of His words, such as in Matthew 26 –

“Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, that He said to His disciples, ‘You know that after two days is the Passover, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.’” Matthew 26:1, 2

His reference to Jonah in Matthew was only confirming that the time of His burial would be the same as Jonah’s time in the fish and that the resurrection would validate His words to the people. In other words, it is the preaching which is the sign of His office. As I said, unlike the prophets of old who spoke under the authority of the Lord, it is under His own authority, confirming that He is the Lord. When we get to chapter 3 of Jonah, we will read –

“And Jonah began to enter the city on the first day’s walk. Then he cried out and said, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”” Jonah 3:4

Jonah spoke of destruction which was just 40 days away. This is the specific sign to Israel. This warning to repent or be overthrown turned out to be a day for a year, just as it was in the Old Testament. When Israel disobeyed in the wilderness, they were given a day for a year punishment for every day that the spies were gone. It was 40 days, and thus 40 years of punishment –

“According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, for each day you shall bear your guilt one year, namely forty years, and you shall know My rejection. 35 I the Lord have spoken this. I will surely do so to all this evil congregation who are gathered together against Me. In this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die.” Numbers 14:34, 35

In Ezekiel chapter 4, he was told to lay on his right side for 40 days signifying a day for a year of punishment for Judah. He was told the same for his left side, but for 390 days. It was a day for a year for the house of Israel. Together, they form the basis for the return of Israel in 1948. Jonah will call out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” The preaching is the sign that Jesus then references.

In 40 years, a day for a year, Israel would be destroyed and carried away exile. Forty years after Christ spoke to Israel, the nation was destroyed by the Romans – just as He said it would be in Matthew 23 –

“Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, 35 that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.36 Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.” Matthew 23:34-36

This may seem like a long introduction to verse 1, but it was necessary to dispel the incorrect assumption that the time in the belly of the fish was the sign to Nineveh, or that the time of Christ in the tomb was the sign to Israel. Rather, the word of God, spoken to Israel in fulfillment of Scripture, and under the full authority of the Lord, was the sign. The resurrection merely proved that.

Therefore, what we will look at today is confirmation of the truth that the word of the Lord is coming through Jonah. The word itself is the sign. Nothing is recorded that Nineveh even knew of Jonah’s time in the belly of the fish. But Jonah did, and so his word was full of the power of the Lord when he went to preach.

Then Jonah prayed

va’yitpalel yonah – “And prayed Jonah.” Jonah – again the name is given indicating that we are to think on its meaning, “Dove.” He has vacillated like the erratic flight of a dove between his calling to Nineveh and his flight to Tarshish. The reintroduction of his name is calling us to continue to consider the change in course which has occurred, and why it has come about.

God is moving Jonah through the drama, just as He is moving mankind through His plan of redemptive history. Jonah is merely used as a symbol of this. Right now, he is at the pivot point of his adventure, just as redemptive history was at its pivot point when Christ went to His cross and then to the grave, pictured by the events in Jonah now. Of these words, Joseph Benson says –

“Those devout thoughts and feelings which he had at that time, he afterward digested into the following prayer…” Joseph Benson

I’m not sure if he even caught his own pun, but being where Jonah is, the word “digested” fits perfectly. It is correct though that this was penned after the ordeal. It is not to be thought that he carried along ink, a pen, and parchment in order to chronicle his time in the belly of the fish.

This then is a sort of psalm of thanksgiving like one of David’s. After David’s many ordeals, he would often take the time to contemplate what occurred, and then put his thoughts into a marvelous psalm which is still cherished and adored by God’s people, even to this day.

This particular opening parallels the opening words of Hannah’s song in 1 Samuel 2 where the same words are used, changing only the name from Hannah to Jonah. As far as the word “pray” here. It is palal, a different word than that stated in Chapter 1. This indicates a prayer to God. It can, and in this case does, include supplication as well as thanksgiving.

The words of supplication are hinted at throughout the prayer but are otherwise unrecorded, and the thanksgiving is explicit in response to the answering of the supplication. Further, the prayers of petition and supplication indicate the time during his time in the ocean. The prayer of thanksgiving is recorded as being during his time in the belly of the fish.

He came to understand that the fish was actually his deliverer. It was a pledge of delivery and life, not an instrument of final destruction. We know this because the construction of the Hebrew in verse 7 shows a delivery already accomplished instead of the expectation of it. Verse 9 also speaks of the surety of events coming later, even though he was still in the fish. Only after these things will he be released from its belly.

Now while there, Jonah uses his time wisely and prays.  Good job Jonah! At the bleakest time of his life, he sought the face of the Lord. This isn’t unusual and it’s the pattern that most people follow as they plod along through life.

How often do we try our very best to run from the Lord and His directives just like Jonah, but when things go south, the first thing we do is pray. What happens after the prayer is what’s even more important though. When things stabilize, are we going to go back to our old habits or are we going to recognize God’s hand in our deliverance and obey Him from that point on?

I have a friend who is, as he calls himself, “spiritual.” However, the last thing he wants is a relationship with God. Some time ago, I got an email – “Charlie, I need prayer. I have something wrong and the doctors want to do a scan on me next week.” The fear in his email was almost tangible. I told him I’d pray for him. A few days later, he got the “all clear” from the doctors and I’m sure that was the last God has heard from him since then.

I’ve seen the pattern many times in the past and have read a jillion accounts like it from people during war time or natural disaster. Think of 9/11!

In the end, the only thing that matters is if we’re going to follow through with praise after the prayers or if we’re going to be the dog who returns to his vomit. The Lord is there and He is not a dummy.

1 (con’t) to the Lord his God

el Yehovah elohav – “…unto Yehovah his God.” It is of note that the term “his God” is used. In the previous chapter, he had said –

“I am a Hebrew; and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” (verse 1:9)

After that, it said in verse 16 –

“Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice to the Lord and took vows.” (verse 1:16)

Despite having been thrown over, and even though the sailors had come to know Yehovah, Jonah was not abandoned by Him. He remained the God of Jonah. It is a continued picture of Israel. They may have been cast away from the Lord, but the Lord is still their God – He and no other.

And in picture, we also see Christ, who called out – “My God, My God, Why have You forsaken Me?” In His humanity He may have been forsaken while bearing the sin of man, but His God is still His God. A separation existed, but the relationship did not cease.

Just as the prodigal son had come to his senses and returned to his father, Jonah likewise now returns to his God. The pattern is given for us to learn from. Israel is Israel, and they are the people of the Lord, whether they are in exile or in a restored relationship.

1 (con’t) from the fish’s belly.

mi’me-ah ha’dagah – “from  inward parts [of] the fish.” As I said, the prayer comes from the belly of the fish. He understood that the fish was, in fact, his deliverer. This is the second and last time that the me-eh, or internal inward parts, are mentioned in Jonah, and it is also the last time they are mentioned in the Bible.

The word, in fact, means “inward parts,” but it has two other uses as well. It is used as a metaphor for the heart, spirit, and emotions of a person, or even of God. And thirdly, it is used to speak of the reproductive organs of either a male or a female. In Ruth 1, it is used when speaking of the womb of Naomi.

This is the only time it is used of a creature, and so the use of the word is not without significance. The fish is the deliverer, and thus is a symbol of Christ. There is Jesus the Man, and there is Christ of God. And so each aspect of this word is seen. There are the literal inward parts; there is the emotion of what has occurred in the Lord through the work of Christ, and there is the new life which issues from the work of the Deliverer – there in the womb of life.

This is not a stretch. Jonah, typical of Jesus, will acknowledge that he was in the pit, meaning death, just as Jesus was. And so all of what is occurring to Jonah is given to us to understand the greater work of Christ. As he also is a picture of the Jewish people, the same three concepts can also be applied to them.

The emotions of their plight, the new birth they receive in Christ – all of it is tied up in what happens to Jonah. One word, carefully placed into the account, is given to show us so very much of what is going on in redemptive history.

As a curiosity for you, the word “fish” in verse 1:17 was dag, a male fish. Here in verse 2:1 it is dagah, a female fish. The speculation on the reason for this is almost endless. Some is so fanciful that it is absurd. One guy named Iz-khakis said that –

“Jonah was first swallowed by a male fish, and that because he did not pray in it, he was vomited up and swallowed by a female one, in which his situation was more confined, and that from this circumstance he was driven to prayer.” (from John Lange).

It may be stupid, but other people just count it up to a scribal error which is just as stupid. The Lord put this in the word for a reason, just as He did with gender discords elsewhere in the Bible. The book of Ruth has several. Therefore, there must be something which is being relayed to us about what has happened to Jonah.

In the Bible, wisdom is personified as a female. Instruction, or torah, is feminine as well. Therefore, the belly of the fish is being personified as a place of wisdom and instruction. And this is so. Jonah is said to have prayed “out of the fish’s belly” after his death in the sea. The fish is now equated to the place where knowledge is being conveyed concerning the process of redemption.

This seems logical, because the next time that the word “fish” is used, it will again be in the masculine. The fish that swallowed him is the same fish that will vomit him out – a male fish. But the belly of the fish here is being equated with knowledge concerning God’s redemptive workings.

Before we depart this verse, let us look at one final treasure. Jonah is said to have prayed out of the fish’s belly. It is in his true Deliverer – meaning the Lord – that he has found comfort. And it is to Him that he gives his words of prayer and thanksgiving.

What would seem like an odd place to praise God, becomes rather the place to praise God. And there is a lesson here which is confirmed by the actions of Paul and Silas after they were beaten by the magistrates in Philippi and then thrown into prison –

“But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.” Acts 16:25

The place where one is, and the situation that one finds himself in, is the place to pray to and praise the Lord. There is every reason to believe the miraculous account of Jonah, even to the last detail. And there is no reason to assume that “out of the belly of the fish” meant that he praised him, not after being in the belly of the fish, but while being in the belly of the fish.

And he said:

va’yomer – “And said.” The words which are recorded in this prayer follow very closely after the words of portions of several psalms. Because of this, liberal scholars immediately dismiss the account as fiction, and they point to is as a later writing which was simply attributed to the prophet Jonah.

There is no more reason to assume that, than there is that the words of the psalms merely match the thoughts and expressions of Jonah. He was a prophet of Israel, and he would have been well aware of the words of the psalms which were already written. The psalms which came later then would have built upon his words now.

Concerning the already written psalms, his mind would be filled with them, just as ours are when we face trials or triumphs. How many countless people, while pondering their plight have uttered the words, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” And how many people, having seen the majesty of God’s handiwork, then proclaimed, “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised.”

When I left to go around the US in 2010, my father wrote me a letter. It was obviously a moving time in his life, and so in it, he made several references to Scripture – something I had never seen him do before. Why liberal scholars are so gross in their analysis of the Bible is beyond me, but the word “peanutheaditis” quickly comes to mind. Jonah’s state of mind called for the word of God which was already instilled in him. And so, in turn, his words utter forth that same precious word.

His words of the next verses follow a pattern which is divided into three separate parts. Each part has a danger followed by a deliverance, or a set need and its accompanying help. Each builds upon the next to a crescendo of spiritual emotion issuing forth in praise. And each goes from hope to deliverance to thanksgiving.

As we go through this prayer, we have to not make the fundamental mistake of almost every scholar and commentary available. They almost unanimously equate the following words with the time while in the belly of the fish. This is in-cor-rect.

Verse 1 shows us that the prayer is made from the belly of the fish, and therefore it is the place of deliverance and safety, not the place of distress and affliction. In other words, the words from the fish’s belly reflect his condition before entering, not after. This is the place of wisdom and instruction which followed after the ordeal. The time in the sea equates to Jesus’ time on the cross.

2 (con’t) “I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction,

qarati mits-a-rah li el Yehovah – “I cried out of the affliction to me unto Yehovah.” Jonah’s life was given up for dead. His affliction was so great that there was no option left but to call out to the Lord. His strength had failed and he could not save himself. In like manner, Christ cried out in His tsarah, or affliction –

“Be not far from Me,
For trouble is near;
For there is none to help.” Psalm 22:11

2 (con’t) And He answered me.

va’yaa-neni – “And He answered me.” The same word is used by Jesus concerning God’s having answered the cry of His affliction –

“Save Me from the lion’s mouth
And from the horns of the wild oxen!
You have answered Me.” Psalm 22:21

Each step, we are seeing insights into the trial of Christ, and the relief from that trial. For Jonah now, the words acknowledge that in his affliction, the Lord answered him. At the time of the cry, he didn’t know it, only later. Thus he reverts back to his plight once again with the words…

2 (con’t) “Out of the belly of Sheol I cried,

mi’beten sheol shivati – “from womb [of] Sheol I cried.” These words explain what his affliction is. He wasn’t afflicted with boils, nor was he afflicted by enemies. Rather, he was afflicted with death itself. It says that he cried out from Sheol. Sheol is variously translated as “the pit,” “the grave,” and even “hell.” It is the place of the dead.

It is a moot point to speculate as to whether Jonah literally died, or if he is calling out as psalmists did, reflecting that their lives were otherwise ended without the Lord’s immediate intervention. If Jonah actually died in the sea, the fish swallowing him could have resuscitated him.

If so, he would make an exact picture of Christ. If not, and if he was only at the gates of death with no hope but death, it doesn’t change the situation for him at all. I say this because it is quite fashionable to hear people dogmatically state and argue that Jonah died. It is silly to go to such extremes.

The word used in this clause for “cried” is not the same as at the beginning of the verse. This word is shava. It is not just a simple calling out, but a cry for help. It comes from a primitive root meaning to be free, but it is used only causatively and reflexively.

It is calling out for freedom from plight and thus for help. There was a need which could not be met in any other possible way, and so he cried out for help. This clause is prophetically fulfilled in Christ as is evidenced from the words of the 30th Psalm –

“O Lord, You brought my soul up from the grave;
You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.” Psalm 30:3

The teaching which says that what occurred with Jonah was a literal death and resurrection as an advanced sign to Israel that the Messiah would die and then resurrect in fulfillment of the picture is false. The Jews of Jesus’ time were not expecting the death and resurrection of their Messiah, and the Jews of today are not expecting it of the messiah they believe will deliver them. David’s words of Psalm 86:13 say –

“For great is Your mercy toward me,
And You have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.”

Nobody claims that David was actually dead and then came back to life. It was understood that the symbolism speaks of a person who has been delivered from a violent mob that otherwise would have sent him to Sheol. It is perfectly in line with what Jonah is saying in his prayer.

Other passages in the Old Testament make the same claim as well, Isaiah for example. So to try to link the “sign of Jonah” to a prior understanding of a resurrection is false. Only after Christ’s work do we come to realize that the symbolism in Jonah points to death and resurrection.

2 (con’t) And You heard my voice.

shamata qoli – “…heard my voice” There is no “and” at the beginning of this clause in the Hebrew. Thus, it sets it off with a striking tone of contrast. There was a cry from the belly of hell itself, and yet, even from there his voice was heard. Whatever Jonah thought about fleeing from the Lord, he found that the words of the psalm are literally true –

“Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.” Psalm 139:7, 8

Even in the pit of Sheol itself, the Lord is available. Even death cannot separate us from our Creator. Several psalms closely match the words of this verse. One is the 18th Psalm which was written by David, and which Jonah would have been aware of. They each point to a prophetic fulfillment in Christ –

“The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me;
The snares of death confronted me.

In my distress I called upon the Lord,
And cried out to my God;
He heard my voice from His temple,
And my cry came before Him, even to His ears.” Psalm 18:5, 6

The 120th Psalm also closely matches Jonah’s words –

“In my distress I cried to the Lord,
And He heard me.” Psalm 120:1

As we move on, verse 3, like verse 5 and part of verse 6, will provide us with a vivid description of the danger and distress which surrounded Jonah. It thus details the circumstances which lead up to the words of verse 2.

Where can we find relief from the storm?
The waves rage and the breakers crash all around
Relieve us, O God, take away the harm
Lest the waters overwhelm and we are drowned

You are our hope, You – O Lord our God
There is no other; our eyes are on You
Save us from this ocean, so deep and so broad
This is our cry; grant us life anew

And we will bring You offerings of thanks and praise
We will come into Your temple; hearts of joy filling us
Grant us life anew; grant us eternal days
We call out for salvation; we call out for Jesus

II. Hope in the Lord (verses 3 & 4)

For You cast me into the deep,

va’tash-likeni metsulah – “And You had cast me into the deep.” The word for “cast” here is not the same as that used several times in chapter 1 which was translated as “threw.” The sailors had thrown Jonah in the sea, but it is the Lord who had cast him into the deep. They were but the instrumental cause of Jonah’s sentence, the Lord was, however, the Principle cause.

Surprisingly, the word for “deep” here was first used concerning the Egyptians who were cast into the depths of the Red Sea –

“Pharaoh’s chariots and his army He has cast into the sea;
His chosen captains also are drowned in the Red Sea.
The depths have covered them;
They sank to the bottom like a stone.” Exodus 15:4, 5

It is then something that Jonah must have considered. His fate was the same as those who came against Israel itself. Thus, his deliverance is one of mercy, not because it was deserved. We are learning from the account through the choice of the words, that all are under the same sentence because of sin, but the Lord demonstrates mercy upon whom He will show mercy.

The words of this clause reflect the same state which David faced, and thus which prophetically look forward to what Christ Himself faced –

“I sink in deep mire,
Where there is no standing;
I have come into deep waters,
Where the floods overflow me.” Psalm 69:2

3 (con’t) Into the heart of the seas,

bilvav yammim – “Into heart seas.” The heart, in this sense, is metaphorically the midst or center, just as we use it today. He was on a vessel in the open seas, and he was cast out into those seas. To him, there was no more hope of swimming to the west than there was to the east. And should he have gone south, it would have made no difference than if he had chosen north. In all directions, there was but water; only water.

To be left alone to die in such a state has got to be one of the most horrific deaths imaginable. The immensity of the open waters is beyond overwhelming. And possibly worse, there’s a greater uncertainty in the ocean. In the ocean, your legs simply dangle into the vast void…

“Tempting anything in sight,
for a nibble or a bite.”

Jonah knew his time was up as he floundered in the great empty waste of the sea.

3 (con’t) And the floods surrounded me;

v’nahar yeso-veveni – “And river compassed about me.” The river of the sea is its current. In the Mediterranean Sea, it sets from west to east. It then reaches the coast of Syria and turns north. Even if he were to be carried back towards his beloved home, he would still most likely be swept north before reaching there. He was surrounded and without hope in the midst of the sea. The words of this clause and the previous one look to the work of Christ prevailing over both the seas and the rivers –

“But My faithfulness and My mercy shall be with him,
And in My name his horn shall be exalted.
25 Also I will set his hand over the sea,
And his right hand over the rivers.
26 He shall cry to Me, ‘You are my Father,
My God, and the rock of my salvation.’” Psalm 89:24-26

3 (con’t) All Your billows and Your waves passed over me.

kal mish-barekha v’galekha alay abaru – “…all your breakers and your waves over me passed.” As Jonah struggled to survive, the force of the ocean was too much. The mishbar, or breakers, are the waves which fold over themselves and descend in heavy billows of white foam. The force of them will easily push a swimmer under. The word comes from shavar, meaning “to break.”

The gal, or waves, comes from the word galal, meaning “to roll.” These would be the waves which would lift him on high and then drop him to their base, thus they are said, like the breakers, to pass over him. The same words are used in the 42nd Psalm –

“Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls;
All Your waves and billows have gone over me.” Psalm 42:7

The swelling ocean of death which Christ faced was an overwhelming flood which carried Him down, and yet with it was carried the sin of man which is what brought Him to that calamitous state in the first place. He was willing to enter the sea of chaos and confusion in order to bring us safely to the shore of harmony, peace, and contentment. This was His confidence, just as the confident words of verse 4 were experienced by Jonah. In the next words, there is seen faith which triumphs over despondency…

Then I said, ‘I have been cast out of Your sight;

va’ani amari nigrashti mi-neged enekha – “And I, I said I have been cast from before Your eyes.” The words here are remarkably similar to those in the 31st Psalm –

“For I said in my haste,
‘I am cut off from before Your eyes’” Psalm 31:22

To be cast out from before the eyes of the Lord is to be cast out of His favor. Jonah had been so cast to teach him a lesson. Christ had been so cast to save the souls of men. Jonah was cast into the sea of water, and Christ into the sea of chaos and death. Both acknowledged their plight, but they also knew that it was not to be the end. Jonah was given relief and a new chance at life in the form of a fish; Christ was raised by the power of God to eternal life…

*4 (fin) Yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.’

akh osiph l’habit el hekal qad-shekha – “Yet, again I will look toward temple Your holy.” The word he uses here, akh, is an adverb which means “surely.” It is a word intended to emphasize that which follows it, and is in contrast to that which precedes it. Understanding that, we can look at the two clauses again.

“And I said, I have been cast from before your eyes – SURELY – again I will look toward Your holy temple.”

Here in verse 4, between verses of doom, there is a glimmer of hope, even a certainty of it. He was a prophet and knew his commission. He also knew that God had a plan which he was to carry out. When he says, “Yet I will look again toward Your holy temple” there’s no reason to assume he was speaking of the resurrection or heaven.

Rather, he has made the logical deduction that because the Lord had sent the storm, and because the sailor’s lot pointed to him, God still intended to use him. There in the belly of the fish, clarity of the situation came through.

The same is true with Christ. He knew God’s plan, He faithfully carried it out, and He understood that He would again enter heaven’s holy temple upon completion of His mission. Jonah’s words are confident, and they are filled with a sense of anticipation. They are mirrored by the words of the 5th Psalm which ultimately point to the greater work of Christ –

“But as for me, I will come into Your house in the multitude of Your mercy;
In fear of You I will worship toward Your holy temple.” Psalm 5:7

How often do we find ourselves in exactly the same position? When everything is chaos around us and it seems as if our heads are under water, we still have moments of clarity where we remember that God really is in control and that He has a plan and a purpose that we haven’t fully pieced together.

Just this week, the son of a girl I went to school with was murdered. And yet, she was able to write the following to all who see here Facebook page –

“I am devastated with the loss I am experiencing. I am numb! My faith in Jesus Christ is sustaining me and my Mom.”

Though she is surrounded by waves of anguish, she still retains clarity of thought because of the Lord. Christ has gone before us, and so we can be assured that what He has promised will come to pass. Let our hearts not be troubled in this world which is often filled with chaos and confusion.

Closing Verse: “In my distress I called upon the Lord,
And cried out to my God;
He heard my voice from His temple,
And my cry came before Him, even to His ears.” Psalm 18:6

Next Week: Jonah 2:5-10 There’s only one way back to God, so climb aboard… (Salvation is of the Lord) (6th Jonah Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. Even if a deep ocean rages against you and is ready to swallow you up, He can send delivery to you in the most remarkable of ways. So follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

Out of the Belly of Sheol

Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God
From the fish’s belly; a place quite odd

And he said:
“I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction
And He answered me
“Out of the belly of Sheol I cried, hoping for fish-belly eviction
And You heard my voice, here in the depths of the sea

For You cast me into the deep
Into the heart of the seas where I was cast
And the floods surrounded me, as if me to keep
All Your billows and Your waves over me passed

Then I said, ‘I have been cast out of Your sight
Yet I will look again toward Your holy temple’
You shall relieve me from this plight

Lord God, we have all been caught in the sea of sin
The breakers and the waves have surrounded us
Surely, there seemed no hope; we were done in
And yet, Praise God! You sent Your Son Jesus

We thank You, O God for the ending of all strife
We thank You for Christ Jesus who has granted us new life

Hallelujah and Amen…

Jonah 1:13-17 (The Sea Ceased From its Raging)

Jonah 1:13-17
The Sea Ceased from its Raging

The verses in Jonah today will show us, once again, a truth which permeates the Bible. It is that God is pleased with obedience to His word, and that such obedience is displayed in acts of faith. Jonah is being used to make several pictures simultaneously. He is being used to picture Israel, obstinate and contrary to the will of God until the point that all hope is lost.

He is also being used to picture the Person and work of Christ. As with all pictures, there will be things that don’t perfectly match, and so the underlying truths need to be looked for, rather than an obvious one-to-one comparison. If everything were exact comparisons, then we would simply be reading the story of Jesus.

But as in all such passages of the Bible, there is the type and then there is the Anti-type. The types are used to make pictures which lead us to the greater Anti-type. Such was the case with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, David, and a great host of others. And such is the case with Jonah.

Today’s verses are somewhat similar to what happened to Joseph when he was cast into the pit by his brothers. That account pictured Christ in a particular way. In a like manner, Jonah will be cast into the sea. From that act, there will be a resulting action. And connected to that is the premise that man is saved by faith. This is seen in our text verse for today –

Text Verse: “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe.” Romans 3:21-22

Who is it that goes away from today’s passage in safety and gratitude to God? Who is it that God responded to because of their act of faith? The answer is obvious, but there is more than just the surface story. Rather, there is a lot of depth and marvelous detail in these five verses.

How can it be that the death of one can be the salvation of many? It is a theme which permeates the Bible and which is seen once again in these verses, and so let’s jump right into them. It’s all to be found in His superior word. And so let’s turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised

I. You, O Lord, Have Done as it Pleased You (verses 13-16)

13 Nevertheless the men rowed hard to return to land,

va’yakhteru ha’anashim l’hashiv el ha’yabashah – “and dug down the men to return unto the dry land.” The verse begins with “And” in the Hebrew, but English translations normally choose contrasting words such as “however,” “nevertheless,” “even so,” “but,” or “instead.”

There is a reason for this. The word translated as “rowed hard,” khatar, is a word which indicates “to dig.” This is the last of just 8 times that it is seen in Scripture. It comes from a primitive root which indicates “to force a passage, as by burglary.”

This is the only time in the Bible that it is used in this sense. All seven other times, it is translated as to dig, such as through a wall in order to break through it, or even to dig into the pit of hell itself (Amos 9:2). From this, we can see that these men literally dug deep into the water, in order to make headway.

Their sails were of no use to them, and so they resorted to brute force in order to find safe harbor. The choice of the word provides us with the mental image of these men literally trying to dig through the walls of the waves, as if trying to break out of the tempestuous prison they are in, and into safety.

It gives the sense of really working hard on their part. The Hebrew is active and alive. It is for this reason that many translations begin the verse with a contrasting word like “But” in order to set off the words of Jonah from the last verse which said –

“Pick me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will become calm for you. For I know that this great tempest is because of me.”

What we are viewing then is a group of people to whom have been explained the means by which they can be saved from the raging tempest, and yet who are adamant to save their wayward passenger, even at the possible expense of their own lives.

In other words, a complete contrast is being shown us between Jonah who has fled from the Lord in order to not bring a saving message to the entire city of Nineveh, and to these pagans who are willing to risk their own lives for the sake of a single, guilty, man. The contrast is stark and it is striking.

13 (con’t) but they could not, for the sea continued to grow more tempestuous against them.

v’lo yakolu ki ha’yam holek v’soer alehem – “…and no do they could, for the sea worked and was whirling against them.” The same term that was used in verse 11 is again used here as the sea continued to work and whirl into an even more tempestuous rage. It grew more and more, and no matter what they did, it was a futile effort for them.

Quite often in our own lives, the seas work against us, and it seems that the harder we fight against them, the more the waves mount up against us. In such cases, it could be that we are not living in accord with the word. These men have been told what will save them, but they have a conflict between their moral stand and what the spoken word has revealed.

In Israel, the Lord mandated the death penalty for certain infractions of the law. The people were not given the choice as to whether they could carry out the penalty or not. For example, in Exodus 22 we read these words –

“You shall not permit a sorceress to live.
19 “Whoever lies with an animal shall surely be put to death.
20 “He who sacrifices to any god, except to the Lord only, he shall be utterly destroyed.” Exodus 22:18-20

If those laws stood today, would we follow through with the punishment? Obviously not. Nor did Israel. They found that extenuating circumstances, degrading morality, and outright rebellion against the Lord was more suitable to their tastes than obedience to His word.

Israel faced their own storms of trials and judgment for not adhering to the word of the Lord, and these men – despite doing what is noble – will continue to face the waves until they obey the Lord’s word.

On the other hand, this also doesn’t necessarily mean that when such trials come, that we’re being disobedient towards the Lord. We can, in fact, have storms while being completely obedient to Him. Instead of trying to make it to a safe harbor on our own, we need to evaluate our lives and align them with the word. If that is already the case, then we need to come to the Lord with our burden and ask Him to carry us through it.

14 Therefore they cried out to the Lord and said,

va’yiqreu el Yehovah va’yomeru – “And cried out to Yehovah and said.” The words make it apparent that they honestly believe Jonah’s words, and that it is Yehovah who has sent the storm against them. As Jonah previously explained to them, He is the God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land.

They have come to accept this as it was spoken to them, and thus they possess the knowledge that because He is the Creator, He is also the One who controls the creation. And so they no longer cry out, every man to his own god, as in verse 5. Rather, they collectively cry out to the true God.

The raging of the winds and the billowing of the waves are caused by Him, and therefore Jonah’s other words must then also be true. Jonah has brought this plight upon them. In order for it to end, he must be cast over the side of the ship…

14 (con’t) “We pray, O Lord, please do not let us perish for this man’s life,

annah Yehovah al na novedah b’nephesh ha’ish hazzeh – “We beg of you, Yehovah, no we pray perish for soul the man this.” If we step back for a second and look at Jonah as a type of Israel as a whole, compared to the pagans here and elsewhere in the story, we can see the strong and obvious contrast between them. There is the stubbornness of Israel, but the complete willingness of the Gentiles to accept the word of the Lord, to do what is right, and to acknowledge the sovereignty of God.

These Gentiles have been given only a small insight into the nature of the Lord, and yet now, they call out to Him by name, yielding themselves completely and wholly to Him.

In their cry, they use a word which is rather rare in Scripture, annah, it being seen just 13 times. It is a contraction of two other words, ahava, meaning “love,” and na, meaning “please.” In essence, “I beg of you.” It is a begging which would come from the soul of the man in a deep and heartfelt petition.

The word is directed to Yehovah, understanding that He alone can grant the petition which has been made. This is the only time that it is used by someone outside of the covenant line of the people of Israel. Despite being pagans, their cry to Yehovah is heartfelt and it is sincere.

The petition is for the sake of their own lives being granted to them for complying with the spoken word against Jonah which will result in the taking his life. What is known to them is that in the taking of another’s life, their lives would thus, under normal circumstances, be forfeit. Though pagans, and outside of the covenant line who lived under the Law of Moses, the memory of what was spoken to their ancestor Noah remained with them –

“Whoever sheds man’s blood,
By man his blood shall be shed;
For in the image of God
He made man. “ Genesis 9:6

Understanding the consequences of this, they beg now for mercy…

14 (con’t) and do not charge us with innocent blood;

v’al titen alenu dam naqiy – “and not lay on us blood innocent.” The adjective naqiy, or innocent, was first used in Genesis 24:41. This is the last time it will be used in the Bible. It indicates being blameless, exempted, or free from guilt. Here we see a foreshadowing of the work of Christ. Pilate washed his hands and declared Christ innocent as is seen in Matthew 27:24 –

“When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that a tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, ‘I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it.’”

They see Jonah’s blood as innocent, and yet they understand that he must die in order for them to live. The passage looks back to Genesis, indicating that they still intuitively understood the words of the Lord to Noah. Guilt is reckoned to anyone who would shed man’s blood. However, the circumstances of their situation called out that they not be charged in this case. And so it also looks forward to Christ who takes away the guilt through His death. Albert Barnes precisely states the situation of these men –

“And lay not upon us innocent blood – innocent as to them, although, as to this thing, guilty before God, and yet, as to God also, more innocent, they would think, than they. For, strange as this was, one disobedience, their whole life, they now knew, was disobedience to God; His life was but one act in a life of obedience. If God so punishes one sin of the holy (1 Peter 4:18), ‘where shall the ungodly and sinner appear?’ Terrible to the awakened conscience are God’s chastenings on some (as it seems) single offence of those whom He loves.” Albert Barnes

Though Christ Jesus never sinned, it was reckoned to Him as if He did. To these men, they saw Jonah as innocent towards them, even if counted guilty before God. In the imputation of our guilt to Christ, and His righteousness imputed to us, we see how the perfect Christ corresponds directly to the guilty Jonah. This is how the Lord saw it in both instances, and therefore, His will must be yielded to. This is next explicitly stated…

14 (con’t) for You, O Lord, have done as it pleased You.”

ki attah Yehovah kaasher khaphats-ta asita – “For You, Yehovah, as pleasing to You, You have done.” The words are robust and impressive. They acknowledge that everything has been according to the will of the Lord. The storm arising, the casting of the lots, the words of Jonah concerning what had to happen to him… all of it is as has been directed by the Lord. This word, khaphets, is the same word found in Isaiah 53:10 – “It pleased the Lord to bruise Him.” We are seeing the work of Christ in type and picture.

In the Hebrew, the actions are described with three simple words, and yet they form a profession of faith as great as any found anywhere else, “As is pleasing to You, so You have done.” Their words are reflective of the words of the psalmist who was certainly, like each of them had become, a man of faith –

“For I know that the Lord is great,
And our Lord is above all gods.
Whatever the Lord pleases He does,
In heaven and in earth,
In the seas and in all deep places.” Psalm 135:5, 6

Because the Lord is sovereign, we have but two choices, yield to His will, or buck against it to our own harm and shame. The sailors having become men of faith, conformed their actions according to His will. Again, the words of Jonah are given to show us the stark contrast between Israel and the Gentile people of the world. Contrast their actions to those of Manasseh the King of Judah who would live only a short time later –

“Moreover Manasseh shed very much innocent blood, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another, besides his sin by which he made Judah sin, in doing evil in the sight of the Lord.” 2 Kings 21:16

In the account of Jonah, pagans had concern over a single life, but Manasseh, shed innocent blood without a second thought. In the New Testament, we continue to see a contrast. Not only was Jonah innocent in their eyes, even more, he was a prophet of the Lord.

They risked their lives to save him, and when they finally had no remedy, they begged for pardon from the guilt of his blood. Jesus speaks out the contrast between their actions towards the Lord’s prophet and those of the people of Jerusalem –

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing! 35 See! Your house is left to you desolate; and assuredly, I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’” Luke 13:34, 35

While we’re talking about the guilt of innocent blood, I might as well bring up our own guilt. For 44 years, we have been swimming in a pool of blood, to the tune of almost 60 million lives murdered through abortion. The guilt of this nation, and especially the democrat party of the United States, reeks to heaven.

May God help us to open our eyes to see and to turn from what we are doing. I pray that the new leaders of our nation will do everything they can to end all funding to these devils, and to overturn the horrifying and ungodly law which has made us ripe for God’s judgment.

15 So they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea,

Va’yisū eth yonah v’tilu-hu el ha’yam – “And they lifted up Jonah and cast him forth into the sea.” For the fourth and last time in the book of Jonah, and also for the last time in the Bible, the word tul or “hurl” is used. It was used in verse 4 when the Lord hurled the great wind upon them. It was again used when the sailors hurled their cargo overboard, and then it was used by Jonah to tell those same sailors what they were to do with him – hurl him over. Now all the hurling at sea is over. The reluctant sailors took the necessary action and the matter was resolved.

We must ask why it is so specific concerning lifting Jonah up. In verse 12, Jonah specifically told the sailors to lift him up and cast him into the sea. Why didn’t he just say “Cast me into the sea.”? In verse 5, it doesn’t say they lifted up the cargo and cast it into the sea. It just says they cast it into the sea. It is because a picture is being made for us. In fulfillment of verse 12 Jesus said in the following in John 12 –

“And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” John 12:32

And in fulfillment of this verse, we read this in Isaiah 52, using the same word, nasah, as is found here in Jonah –

“See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.” Isaiah 52:13

We are being given a prophecy and a fulfillment of the prophecy, right before our eyes. Each word is revealing the work of Christ.

In 1831, someone noticed for the first time that Jupiter had a big red spot on it. Eventually they figured out that it was a giant storm, like a hurricane. No one knows how long it’s been there or how long it will continue… it just keeps raging on. Anyone who has been in a storm on the sea knows that every minute is like an eternity.

Eventually though, all storms do end. Some lose steam as they come onto land. Some storms fade out from cross winds. Some storms die out from temperature drops. And some storms end because the Lord’s wrath is appeased. The men nasah, or lifted up Jonah. In Isaiah 52, it says the Lord Jesus would likewise be nasah, or lifted, up…

15 (con’t) and the sea ceased from its raging.

va’yaamod ha’yam mizapo – “and stood the sea from her anger.” The word amad means “to stand.” It is used here in the same manner as we use the word in English. The storm “stood” still or ceased. And so you get the mental impression of activity. The storm was as if crouched down, raging and blowing all around the sailors, but as the word of the Lord was obeyed, the storm stood, as if at attention, and the raging ended.

Again, in the sudden cessation of the storm, we have a parallel to the crucifixion of Christ. Although it was darkness and not a storm which the writers describe, it lasted during the ordeal, and ended when the life ended, pictured by Jonah’s being cast into the sea –

“‘“Now it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. 45 Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two. 46 And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit.’” Having said this, He breathed His last.”’” Luke 23:44-46

In Jonah’s being cast from among the living, the storm ceased, and that anger of the storm was over. In the casting of the life of Christ from among the living, the pall of darkness likewise ceased, and the anger of God at the sin of man was quieted and appeased.

The raging sea of God’s wrath had ended, and peace was restored. The prediction of Jonah was realized among these sailors of faith, and the promises of Scripture, even from the time of the fall of man itself, are likewise realized among those who, by faith, cast their sins at the foot of Calvary’s cross.

God’s wrath is on the opposite side of the coin of God’s mercy. When, by faith, the sailors threw Jonah in, His mercy could finally be realized. In the same way, when Jesus woke up and exercised His power, the storm on the Sea of Galilee ended. A mere rebuke from His breath and all was calm –

“But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. 27 So the men marveled, saying, ‘Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?’” Matthew 8:26-27

And then going back to the account from Acts, the ship Paul was on wasn’t saved. It was destroyed on a shoal as the waves beat it to pieces, but all of the people on board were saved. Because of Paul’s faithful witness, the Bible says God graciously granted the lives of all who were aboard. Again and again the Bible demonstrates the power of faith.

How we conduct ourselves now affects everyone we come in contact with – even if we only cross their paths for a moment. A good question to ask as we drive and lose our temper, as we shop and don’t find what we want, as we impatiently wait on hold for the technician is, “How will what I do affect my Christian testimony in their lives?” If we remember His presence in all we do, we should have no fear, frustration, or fret. He is in control and is tending to our every need. As we live our lives, we can repeat the proverb…

“When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
Yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet.” Proverbs 3:24

16 Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly,

va’yire-ū ha’anashim yirah gedolah eth Yehovah – “And feared the men, afraid whoppingly, Yehovah.” What may be the stupidest commentary ever penned on this verse, the Geneva Bible says, “They were touched with a certain repentance of their past life, and began to worship the true God by whom they saw themselves as wonderfully delivered. But this was done for fear, and not from a pure heart and affection, neither according to God’s word.”

The fear referred to here, is given as a contrast to the fear that they previously held. This exact same phrase, word for word, was used in verse 10 with but a slight difference. In verse 10, they had just heard Jonah’s words that he was a Hebrew who feared Yehovah, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.

Now, their fear is still directed to Yehovah, but instead of it being vague and uncertain – a fear which leads to death, it is a fear whose object is Yehovah, the God of Jonah; the Creator – it is a fear that leads to life. Further it was wholly in accord with God’s word as given to them by Jonah.

The Geneva commentary could not be more wrong. The Bible is giving us this contrast for a specific reason, and it’s not to assume that there was no change in these Gentiles, but rather a complete and total change.

The fear of Yehovah, we are told, is the beginning of wisdom. They have started on their journey through the fear of Yehovah, with a pure heart and a directed affection.

This brings us back to the word yayin or “wine” which is related to the name Yonah, or Jonah, which we evaluated at the start of this adventure. As we saw, vineyards represent the cultural side of humanity. There are various vineyards which are various cultures. Vineyards produce grapes, or cultural expressions, and these are mixed together through a mashing process to produce wine.

In the Bible, wine then symbolizes the merging together of these expressions into a result. The thing that ought to happen can happen, symbolized by wine. It is as if an act of reasoning is occurring, and an intended result is realized. It is as if we are “seeing wisdom as wine drawn from the grapes of observations and deductions” (Abarim).

Like a dove, Jonah’s adventure so far has vacillated, but in the course of events, the minds of the people are changed, and the redemptive process of God is revealed. Jonah is being equated with what his name means, “Dove.” But the root of his name, and the variations of it, are being drawn together by God to tell us a story.

Just as Jonah was the means by which these Gentiles have come to know and fear Yehovah, so Jesus as the fulfillment of the picture, is the means by which the Gentile world, once on the raging sea of chaos, is brought to the peaceful waters of rest in the knowledge of the true God.

The sailors had seen the marvelous power of the Lord as it worked in relation to Jonah. The disciples with Jesus, and the men aboard the ship with Paul, had seen the marvelous power of the Lord as it worked in relation to Christ and the message of Christ. In each circumstance, the words of the psalmist are fulfilled –

Fire and hail, snow and clouds;
Stormy wind, fulfilling His word; Psalm 148:8

In order to effect His word in the lives of others, He even uses the elements to do His bidding and to fulfill His word.

16 (con’t) and offered a sacrifice to the Lord

v’yizbekhu zebakh l’Yehovah – “…and they sacrificed (a) sacrifice to Yehovah,” What the sacrifice was is not said, and thus it is not important what it was. Scholars argue over this as if they were standing there and watching the events unfold. Some argue that they had live animals on board and used them as sacrifices. Some argue that they had already thrown their cargo over and so this wouldn’t be possible.

It is all vain and useless conjecture. In the Bible, the zebakh, or “sacrifice” is not limited to animals. They very well may have sacrificed animals, but it could be a meal offering, a sacrifice of joy, a sacrifice of a contrite and broken heart, a sacrifice of righteousness, or a sacrifice of thanksgiving. The word zebakh is used to describe all of these in Scripture.

Whatever they chose to sacrifice, it was to the Lord and not to the false gods they once prayed to. They had, in essence, come to the foot of the cross, there to worship the true Lord of all.

16 (con’t) and took vows.

va’yider-ū nedarim – “and vowed vows.” The sacrifices were made as “right now” offerings to Yehovah. They were directed to him with hearts of contrition, in joy, with thanksgiving, and as a righteous oblation to Him. The vows were made as future conduct towards Him.

They were intended to bind them to the Lord from that point on, and to live for Him as much as could be expected from men apart from the law, but who lived under His grace. The man in the foxhole facing death will inevitably make vows to God. How many will he later act on?

I once listened to a man who was in WWII. He saw a another man ordered to move forward and take out a machine gun nest. The guy charged forward and was shot almost immediately. As he lay there dying, he recited the words of the 23rd Psalm.

The man in the foxhole asked the Lord to give him the same type of faith, and he made a promise to God that if he survived, he would dedicate his life to the Lord. When he arrived back in Texas, he planted numerous churches. But even after tirelessly working throughout his remaining years, he felt he had not done enough in repayment to the Lord. He made a vow and he kept it.

It’s an important lesson for each of us. We need to remember to fulfill our vows when we make them. This theme is repeated throughout the Bible and is something God expects of us –

“Make vows to the LORD your God, and pay them;” Psalm 76:11

Were the book to end with at this point, we could look at the story in one of two ways – that God’s plans were thwarted towards the Ninevites because Jonah was cast over and died. Or we could look at it as God’s plans were actually directed all along at those who sailed with Jonah; bringing them to salvation in the Lord.

However, we need not speculate because this is not the end of the story. Instead, God’s plan wasn’t only for the men on the ship, but for those in Nineveh as well. In the Hebrew text, Jonah Chapter 1 ends with verse 16. Verse 17 actually starts Chapter 2.

How the oceans rage, and the winds blow so strong
There is no way for us to safely reach the shore
When will come relief? This tempest will last how long?
When will the waves die down, to threaten us no more?

It is as if God’s wrath rests upon us, as we sail on
Is there no way for the sea to be calm and still once again
Has God abandoned us, is all hope gone
Is this our sad destiny, and the fate of all men?

No! For in one mighty act the seas have quieted and are still
When the Lord was cast into the turbulent sea
In His death, Christ Jesus has fulfilled God’s will
And brought us once again to a place of peace and tranquility

II. The Deliverer (verse 17)

17 Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah.

vay-man Yehovah dag gadol livloa eth yonah – “And had appointed Yehovah fish whopping to swallow Jonah.” There is a lot about this verse which is misunderstood, or often mistranslated. First, the word here translated as “had prepared” is manah. It means “to count.” Thus the fish has been “appointed,” not “prepared.”

Using “prepared” is misleading and gives the sense of an act of creation. Rather, God has created, and he has appointed his creation to act at certain counts, or times, in order to meet His needs. He employs His created agents to do His bidding at His will.

Secondly, the “great fish” here is incorrectly translated in the New Testament by some versions as “whale.” This is unjustifiable and it is incorrect. The Hebrew word is dag. It indicates a prolific beast; one that greatly multiplies, as is seen in fish, not in mammals.

Great studies have been done on this, which, if you want to learn more just go browse the internet. This was probably a sea-dog or a type of shark which is found in the Mediterranean Sea. In fact, the scholar Keil notes the following –

“…in the year 1758 a sailor fell overboard from a frigate, in very stormy weather, into the Mediterranean Sea, and was immediately taken into the jaws of a sea-dog (carcharias), and disappeared. The captain, however, ordered a gun, which was standing on the deck, to be discharged at the shark, and the cannon-ball struck it, so that it vomited up again the sailor that it had swallowed, who was then taken up alive, and very little hurt, into the boat that had been lowered for his rescue.”

Jonah really was cast over the side, and a great fish really did swallow him whole. There is no reason to assume that in order to arrive at the Anti-type, Christ, that the Lord would merely use an allegory to make his point. Rather, he used a real person, with real circumstances, to point us to the true fulfillment of what is now only pictured.

The casting of Jonah over the side was symbolic of his death, and thus a picture of the death of the Lord. The calming of the sea was then a picture of the calming of the wrath against man which was realized in Christ’s death.

The swallowing of Jonah by the great fish, is not as most scholars claim a picture of his death, but of his deliverer from his state of death. Just as Christ died on the cross and was then entombed, Jonah was swallowed by the fish after what could be considered his death. This will be seen in the coming chapter.

*17 (fin)And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

vay’hi yonah bime ha’dag sheloshah yamim u-sheloshah lelowt – “And was Jonah in the belly the fish three days and three nights.” What is the greatest tragedy of all, and which has led to innumerable and incorrect rabbit trails concerning the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, the words here are reflective of the Hebrew way of reckoning time. This in no way signifies complete days and nights of 24-hour duration, or thus a period of 72 hours. For example, in Esther 4:16, we read –

“Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!” Esther 4:16

In Esther 5:1, we then read this –

“Now it happened on the third day that Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king’s palace, across from the king’s house, while the king sat on his royal throne in the royal house, facing the entrance of the house.” Esther 5:1

It was the third day from the proclamation, not the fourth or even the fifth day from it. From the first page of the Bible onward, Hebrew has no single word to express what we would consider a natural day. The time here can express one whole day and a part of the other two. We do this in our own language as well.

I might say that I will be out of town for three days, when I leave on Monday afternoon and return on Wednesday morning. I was, in fact, gone for three days, just not for three full days. I also might say, “I have worked for ten days, day and night, in order to finish this project.” This does not mean that I worked the entire time, but that the entire time was consumed with my work.

This is how Hebrew time is reckoned in the Bible. It is no different than how the Bible records such things and the Jewish audience of Matthew would understand this. The same account in Luke concerning Christ’s time in the tomb reads differently from Matthew because it’s given to a different audience. This becomes important in correctly identifying the time and day that Christ was crucified, and the time and day that He arose.

Thirteen times in the New Testament it says that He rose “on the third day.” As He rose on a Sunday, the simplest way to resolve this is to count back from the third day. Sunday (1); Saturday (2); Friday (3). However, though more complicated, this timeline is confirmed through a proper study of the gospel records and which I will include at the end of the written sermon which is available on-line. At no charge too.

Understanding this, Jonah’s time in the belly of the fish could have been less than 72 hours, and yet still fulfilling the required sense of the Hebrew reckoning of time. What is important, again, is the type and the Anti-type. All of which points to Christ.

Everything about the narrative is giving us clues of other things – the work of Christ, the bringing in of Gentiles to the Lord by mercy, grace, and faith, the stubbornness of Israel against the Lord and the willingness of the Gentiles to receive Him. Redemptive history is being revealed to us in a marvelous snapshot.

It is as if a tribunal has been held. The ship becomes the courtroom, the sailors become the jury, the raging winds and the storm are the accusers, the Lord’s prophet is the accused, the sea is the instrument and pit of death, the fish is the deliverer from death and the womb of life, and behind it all is the hand of the Lord, directing the story.

If you’re a Jew or a Gentile, a male or a female – if you’re a businessman or a drug addict, a prostitute or a housewife – no matter what your race, creed, or culture, you will also face a trial as an accused. You can face it alone, or you can face it with one who has already stood in your place, willing to take your sentence upon Himself. The sailors found this out. They were given the word of the Lord – “Pick me up and throw me into the sea.”

For a time, they strived to save themselves, digging hard into the waves in order to return to the shore. It is works-based salvation, and it only will lead to a greater rage from God. But they finally yielded to His word, and they came to the cross where the Innocent was to die for the guilty. They called out, “O Lord, please do not let us perish for this Man’s life, and do not charge us with innocent blood.” All men will be charged, but the question is, “Will it be in our own guilt, or in Christ’s righteousness?” Only He is innocent.
Their final words were, “For You, O Lord, have done as it pleased You.” Only in the death of Christ is God pleased. Only He satisfied the works of the law perfectly, and only His death could cease the raging of the sea of disobedience and death which has worked and whirled against man for countless ages. Only He; only He.

Now the choice is Yours. The sea has ceased from its raging for all who call out to Him. But you must call, and you must receive. Call on Christ today, and be reconciled to Your heavenly Father through His shed blood. God loves you and wants to have a relationship with you. He sent a fish to save Jonah; He sent the completed work of Christ Jesus to save you!

Closing Verse: “He sent from above, He took me;
He drew me out of many waters.” Psalm 18:16

Next Week: Jonah 2:1-4 Yes, from out of the place where after he had died… (Out of the Belly of Sheol I Cried) (5th Jonah Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. Even if a deep ocean rages against you and is ready to swallow you up, He can send delivery to you in the most remarkable of ways. So follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

Peace from the Storm

Nevertheless, hard the men rowed
To return to land; their efforts almost furious
But they could not, as the events clearly showed
For the sea continued to grow against them more tempestuous

Therefore they cried out to the LORD and said
“O LORD, please do not let us perish for this man’s life, we pray
And do not charge us with innocent blood when he is dead
For You, O LORD, have done as it pleased You here today

So they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea
And the sea ceased from its raging completely

Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly
Surely they quivered and shook
And offered a sacrifice to the LORD
And also vows they took

Now the LORD had prepared a great fish, Jonah to swallow
And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights
There in the great fish’s belly he did wallow

Lord God, it is we who have strayed from You
We have gone about our own way, without a care
And yet, ever faithful and true
You sent Jesus, in order that us You might spare

He was cast in to the pit of death so that we might live
What kind of love have You shown towards us!
What a marvelous Gift to us You did give
When You sent Your beloved Son, our Lord Jesus

Now by our faith in Him, we are reconciled to You
And we are spared from being sent to the very pit of hell
And so we give You all of our praise, yes all that is due
For, our Lord Jesus has done everything so well

Hear our praise, and our voices full of thanksgiving
We have passed from the grip of death to the land of the living

Hallelujah and Amen…


Below is all the information you need to properly discern when Christ was crucified and when He arose.

What day of the week Christ was crucified? We know for certain that he rode into Jerusalem on a donkey on Sunday, 6 April 0032. This is based on dating from the prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27 and the exemplary work of Sir Robert Anderson.

However, people will still try to find a reason why the crucifixion wasn’t on Friday, 11 April 0032. There are a couple reasons why this is disputed, each which certainly results from misunderstanding of biblical terminology. The first is a fear that what’s stated in Matthew 12:40 would mean an error in what Jesus said. The second results from a perceived conflict between the gospel accounts in Matthew, Mark, and Luke and that of John.

In the first disputed reason, Jesus is quoted by Matthew as saying, “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Matthew 12:40

The resurrection certainly occurred on a Sunday and only the most extreme cases dispute this – and they do it without justification. Some folks fear that because He rose on a Sunday and it was “3 days and 3 nights” that Jesus was in the tomb then it was either Wednesday or Thursday that He must have gone to the cross. It’s important to note that this verse is from Matthew and is directed to the Jewish people – Jesus as King. Hebrew idioms would have been understood and not needed any clarification or verbal amending. To the audience Matthew was writing to any part of a day is considered to be inclusive of the whole day. It’s no different than terminology we use today. If I arrive in Florida on a plane at 11:30 pm on 11 April, during a later conversation I would still say I was in Florida on that day. The biblical pattern of “evening and morning” being a day goes back to the first chapter of the Bible and includes an entire day – regardless of what part of a day one is referring to.

The same verse, as recorded in Luke says, “As the crowds increased, Jesus said, “This is a wicked generation. It asks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah. For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation.”  Luke 11:29, 30 In this instance, Luke was not writing to only Jewish people, but predominately to non-Jewish people – Jesus as the Son of Man. Therefore, the terminology is amended to avoid confusion. This occurs many times in the gospels and therefore the addressees (or the background of the writers themselves) need to be identified to understand proper terminology.

The second issue to be resolved is that some scholars claim that John “appears” to place the crucifixion on a different date than the other writers. Because of this, an attempt to insert some second type of Passover meal is made. This supposedly helps the Bible out of an apparent problem. However, no such meal is identified in the Bible – at any time. Nor is it necessary to make something erroneous like this up. The Bible identifies the timing of the entire Passion Week, dispelling the problem. The terminology for “Preparation Day” used in all four gospel accounts absolutely clears this up and will be noted below.

Here’s what you need to know:

Paul plainly states that the Feast of Firstfruits is a picture of the resurrection:

“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”  1 Corinthians 15:20

The feast of Firstfruits was a Sunday according to Leviticus 23:15 – “From the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, count off seven full weeks.” Note: the Sabbath is a Saturday. We don’t need to go any further there to know this is correct and that Christ rose on a Sunday.

Here is the math from the gospel accounts. It’s all there in black and white and very easy to look up –

**“Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.”  John 12:1 This would have been a Sabbath day (Saturday.)

**“The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem.”  John 12:12 This would have been 5 days before the Passover, meaning Sunday (Palm Sunday) as the Passover would have started Thursday night at sundown and run until Friday night at sundown (remember biblical days start at sundown).

The account couldn’t be clearer that the next day after the Passover was a Sabbath. This is indicated several times. Some people have attempted to use the terminology in John (it was a “high day” or a “special Sabbath”) to indicate that it could have been a day other than a Saturday. Special Sabbaths are specified in Leviticus and don’t necessarily fall on Saturdays. However, the term “Sabbath” as used in the other gospel accounts is indicating a Saturday. There is no indication, anywhere, that there were two Sabbaths in a row on this particular week. In fact, such an analysis does an injustice to the reading of the text. Therefore, the special Sabbath occurred on a regular Sabbath day (Saturday).
From this we can give the entire week’s schedule (refer to the cited verses in your own Bible to familiarize yourself with what’s being said) –

Sabbath 6 before // John 12:1 – …six days before the Passover.  Bethany/Lazarus.

Sunday 5 before // John 12:12 & Mark 11:10 – The next day…  Palm Sunday/Riding the donkey.

Monday 4 before //  Mark 11:12 Now on the next day… Jesus cursed the fig tree.

Tuesday 3 before //  Mark 11:20 Now in the morning… The withered fig is identified.

Wednesday 2 before // The gospels are silent on what occurred on this day.

Thursday 1 before – Passover starts at Sundown //Mark 14:1 After two days it was the Passover… (this is the first timing mentioned since Mark 11:20 which was Tuesday).

Note:  Pay special attention to the fact that in the following accounts Mark is using Jewish time (sunset to sunset and John is using Roman time) –

Mark 14:12 – “Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread when they killed the Passover Lamb.”

John 13:1 – “Now before the Feast of the Passover….”  Meal, Washing of Feet, Gethsemane.

***Christ crucified this same 24 hour period, but it was obviously after the final night at Gethsemane and then the illegal trial.  Mark is speaking of this event from sundown, John is speaking of it on Roman time (this is obvious because they use different terminology for the same meal where Judas left to betray the Lord… can’t miss this point and get it right.)

6 days before – Saturday

5 days before – Sunday

4 days before – Monday

3 days before – Tuesday

2 days before – Wednesday

1 day before – Thursday

The Day – Friday

The problem with people believing that John was speaking of a different day (as mentioned above) is that they miss the fact that the terminology for the day is different based on the author. To clear up any misunderstanding between the synoptic gospels and the Gospel of John, one needs only to compare the uses for the term “Preparation Day.” Once one does this, there are no discrepancies in the accounts –

Matthew 27:62 – “The next day, the one after the Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate.” This was the day after the crucifixion. Matthew says it is the day “after Preparation Day.”

Mark 15:42 – “It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached…” This is the day of the crucifixion. Mark says “It was Preparation Day.”

Luke 23:5 – “It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.” This is the day of the crucifixion. Luke says “It was Preparation Day.”

John 19:14 – “Now it was Preparation Day of the Passover.” This is the day of the crucifixion. John says “It was Preparation Day.”

Based on the biblical evidence, there is

  • No discrepancy between any of the accounts.
  • Jesus was crucified on a Friday.
  • Jesus rose on a Sunday.

As a final note, the Bible says 13 times that He was raised “on” the third day.  This is mentioned by Jesus himself as well as the apostles. Therefore, it must have been Friday that Christ was crucified.


Please don’t believe (as some have claimed) that Christ rode the donkey into Jerusalem on a Saturday instead of a Sunday. This would have been the Sabbath. If He did, He would have violated the law –

“Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your ox, nor your donkey, nor any of your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you.”  Deuteronomy 5:12-14

There is no need to make the assertion it was a Saturday unless you simply wanted to finagle the dating. There is also no biblical provision for an exemption to the commandment prohibiting working a donkey. As stated above, the work of Sir Robert Anderson in the 1800s clearly demonstrates that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on 6 April 0032. This can be validated in other ways and is the correct year and month for the Lord’s crucifixion.

The biblical evidence is quite clear and without ambiguity or total uncertainty…Jesus Christ was crucified as the Passover Lamb on Friday, 11 April 0032 and was resurrected to eternal life on Sunday 13 April 0032.

He now offers eternal life to all who call on Him by faith. Have you accepted His offer of peace?



Jonah 1:7-12 (Pick Me Up and Throw Me in the Sea)

Jonah 1:7-12
Pick Me Up and Throw Me in the Sea

The story of Jonah is working towards a good end, and yet it is filled with all kinds of twists and turns as it heads there. Jonah, a prophet of the Lord, was unwilling to go preach to the wicked city of Nineveh, the capital of a Gentile empire, and yet he was willing to run away from the Lord to another Gentile location.

When the Gentiles on the ship are in despair, they come to Jonah to see if he can help with the situation, but then they find out that he is the cause of their dire state. The Lord hurls a storm at the ship, and Jonah tells them to hurl him from the ship. Everything about the account so far seems ironic and confusing, but everything about the life we live also often seems ironic and confusing. And yet, the Lord is working it out for a good end.

For those who are willing to accept that there is one God, and that He is in control of all things, that knowledge is a comfort, because we can trust that He has a plan and it is working out for a good end. The key is to make sure that we have grasped that plan and have done what is necessary to be included in that good end.

This is why we are given stories like Jonah. They show us hints of Jesus who is the key to that plan, and the One to get us to that good end. If we learn nothing else in this life, if we can grasp and accept this one premise, then we too shall be a part of that good end.

Text Verse: “In His hand are the deep places of the earth;
The heights of the hills are His also.
The sea is His, for He made it;
And His hands formed the dry land.
Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.” Psalm 95:4-6

This is what God asks of us – to come and worship and bow down before Him. He doesn’t force us to do so, but we are often caught up in events, which He has brought about, in order to get us to do exactly that. The men of the ship which Jonah is on are caught up in a series of events which are beyond their control. Jonah is caught up in them too.

And every detail of what really happened to these people is being used to reveal to us a greater story of God’s love for the people of the world – be they salty sailors on a ship at sea, or a mighty nation which crushes other nations. In the end, He desires that we turn our hearts to Him, bend our knees in humility, and proclaim with our mouths His glory. These truths are to be found in His superior word. And so let’s turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. I Am a Hebrew (verses 7-9)

And they said to one another, “Come, let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this trouble has come upon us.”

va’yomeru ish el reehu leku v’nappiah goralot v’nedeah b’shelemi ha’raah hazzot lanu – “And they said man unto neighbor, ‘Come and let us cast lots and we may know the evil this to us.’” In verse 6, which closed us out last week, the captain had gone to Jonah in order to get him to act –

“So the captain came to him, and said to him, ‘What do you mean, sleeper? Arise, call on your God; perhaps your God will consider us, so that we may not perish.’”

Whether Jonah had arisen and called on his God, or whether he simply went up and pretended to do so, knowing that his prayers would only draw the Lord to him and confound his attempt to flee, there was obviously no letup in the storm.

With it furiously raging around them, and with their certainty that this was a sort of divine punishment for someone’s wrongdoing, they are now determined to find out who that culprit is. In order to do so, they turn to the goral, or lot.

Though these are pagans who are calling for a lot, this practice is not unique to pagans. Many times in Scripture they are used in exactly the manner seen here.

The first time lots are mentioned in the Bible is in Leviticus 16 which concerns the Day of Atonement rituals – a passage which points directly to the crucifixion of Christ, as does believe it or not, this account now. The last time they’re mentioned is in Acts chapter 1 when the apostles drew lots to replace Judas, whose actions had led directly to that crucifixion. It is an ironic set of verses, but it shows God’s control over all things.

In total, the goral, or lot, is seen 77 times in the Old Testament, with three of them being in Jonah, all in this verse. The word comes from an unused root meaning to be rough, as stone, and so it indicates a pebble, and hence a lot because small stones are used for lots. In turn, it figuratively means “a portion” or “destiny.”

Despite lots seeming to draw solely on chance, the Bible paints a different picture. Though appearing random, the Lord directs all things to effect His purposes in the stream of human existence. The problem with us is that we attribute these things to time and chance, but the Lord is the One who directs all things. This is seen in Proverbs 16 –

“The lot is cast into the lap,
But its every decision is from the Lord.” Proverbs 16:33

As far as lots being used to single out a guilty party, even this is not unheard of among the people of God as is recorded in Scripture. A similar account, one which attempts to determine one guilty person out of a crowd, is found in 1 Samuel 14:36-45 –

“‘“Now Saul said, “Let us go down after the Philistines by night, and plunder them until the morning light; and let us not leave a man of them.”
And they said, “Do whatever seems good to you.”
Then the priest said, “Let us draw near to God here.”
37 So Saul asked counsel of God, “Shall I go down after the Philistines? Will You deliver them into the hand of Israel?” But He did not answer him that day. 38 And Saul said, “Come over here, all you chiefs of the people, and know and see what this sin was today. 39 For as the Lord lives, who saves Israel, though it be in Jonathan my son, he shall surely die.” But not a man among all the people answered him. 40 Then he said to all Israel, “You be on one side, and my son Jonathan and I will be on the other side.”
And the people said to Saul, “Do what seems good to you.”
41 Therefore Saul said to the Lord God of Israel, “Give a perfect lot.” So Saul and Jonathan were taken, but the people escaped. 42 And Saul said, “Cast lots between my son Jonathan and me.” So Jonathan was taken. 43 Then Saul said to Jonathan, “Tell me what you have done.”
And Jonathan told him, and said, “I only tasted a little honey with the end of the rod that was in my hand. So now I must die!”
44 Saul answered, “God do so and more also; for you shall surely die, Jonathan.”
45 But the people said to Saul, “Shall Jonathan die, who has accomplished this great deliverance in Israel? Certainly not! As the Lord lives, not one hair of his head shall fall to the ground, for he has worked with God this day.” So the people rescued Jonathan, and he did not die.”’”

Like king Saul and the Israelites of their time, the captain and these pagans now cast the lot in order to determine guilt…

7 (con’t) So they cast lots,

va’yappilu goralot – “And they cast lots.” As this is a portion of Scripture which will show a positive result, and as other parts of Scripture detail acceptable uses of lots, it brings up an obvious question, “are lots still acceptable today?”

As I said, the last time the practice of casting lots is mentioned in the Bible is in Acts chapter 1. In Acts chapter 2, the Holy Spirit was poured out on believers. After that, lots are not used again. Though this itself isn’t surprising due to the infrequent use of lots in the Old Testament, they are not ever mentioned in the epistles as an acceptable part of determining doctrinal matters.

Instead, the apostles were present who were given special abilities to determine matters. And from their hands came the final books of the Bible which are given for doctrine, correction, and the like. Our judgments now are to be based on biblical standards, and then united with prayers and petitions to the Lord, not on casting lots. In other words, we are to rely on the Holy Spirit who gave us the pages of Scripture and who is present in our lives as believers. It is through this process that we are to come to our conclusions.

We have what Israel of Old did not have, and we are to use it accordingly. All of our decisions in life are to be in accord with the word, prayed upon for guidance, and trusted that the Lord and His good Spirit will properly direct our steps. This doesn’t mean we don’t act, but that our actions are first to be sanctified by prayer.

Using lots isn’t something to be taken lightly, especially after God has granted us both His completed word and His Spirit. By testing the Lord like this, unsatisfactory results in matters that we should know by study and prayer alone may result. In his book, Divine Guidance  by B.A. Ramsbottom, we read this about John Wesley –

“Perhaps the person most renowned for casting lots to discern God’s will was John Wesley. He even had an apparatus to use which he carried around with him. But what a sorry position it brought him into! When George Whitefield nobly stood in defense of the doctrines of grace, and especially election, John Wesley cast lots whether to take up his pen and oppose him. The lot said, ‘Yes.’

And so for these many years, the doctrine of the Methodist church and its offshoots, such as the Church of God, have held to the unsound principles of Arminianism. Instead of trusting God’s Word and the leading of the Holy Spirit, Wesley’s use of lots has brought about a great deal of confusion in the modern church.”

Rather than study to show himself approved, John Wesley copped out and cast lots in order to make his biblical and life decisions. He even did this to determine if he should marry a particular woman. There is a giant flaw in his method of biblical interpretation, and this giant flaw has affected countless thousands who have followed him in his often unsound theology.

7 (con’t) and the lot fell on Jonah.

va’yippol ha’goral al yonah – “…and fell the lot against Jonah.” When the lots were thrown on the ship, the Lord directed them to Jonah. Once again, the naming of him in the account is intended to get us to think on the meaning of his name. Yonah means “Dove,” but the root of the name Yonah is the word yanah, a word which generally signifies doing wrong to someone. The lot has been cast and the significance of his name is again brought forth in the story.

He is the vexer who has brought trouble on those he was with. However, as we saw, the Lord is using him, his name, and its closely associated meanings, to bring to the world a story of redemption and hope. Where he has brought wrong to those around him, good will be what ultimately occurs.

Then they said to him, “Please tell us! For whose cause is this trouble upon us?

va’yomeru elav haggidah na lanu baasher l’mi ha’raah – “And they said unto him, ‘Tell us we pray, to us on account of which to whom the evil this to us?’” This same type of question occurs elsewhere in the Bible, “Why is this trouble upon us?” One such example is found in the account of the calling of Gideon –

“‘“Now the Angel of the LORD came and sat under the terebinth tree which was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon threshed wheat in the winepress, in order to hide it from the Midianites. And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him, and said to him, “The LORD is with you, you mighty man of valor!” Gideon said to Him, “O my lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us?”’” Judges 6:11-13

As for those of Israel at Gideon’s time, it was for disobedience to the will of the Lord. In the same manner, Jonah’s disobedience led to the calamity of the mariners. And here we are in the world today, facing calamity after calamity because we fail to wake up and turn to the Lord.

In the end, calamity is normally self-inflicted. The final calamity, that of hell, will come simply because of rejecting Jesus. Reconciliation is available, but it is not forced. In Psalm 10, the writer wanted to know about his own suffering –

“Why do You stand afar off, O LORD?
Why do You hide in times of trouble?” Psalm 10:1

The answer is always the same – the Lord is waiting for His people to wake up. Several Hebrew scholars have noted the exceptional, and peculiar use of the language by the sailors. The words translated as, “For whose cause” are not the same as the preceding verse, even though both are translated the same.

Verse 7 describes what the sailors said to one another. Now they ask someone who is not of their own trade, and so they ask in a more elegant form than when they spoke to each other. Rather than being out of place, it displays an exceptional artistic skill is being employed in the narrative, even to the level of perfection of detail.

Now, with the lot having singled out Jonah, which under many circumstances would have been sufficient for a group of anxious, desperate men, they patiently begin a short trial. Instead of trusting in the roll of the dice, they now enter into a series of questions which are intended to definitively determine innocence or guilt.

How unlike anything Jonah would have expected from pagans! It is true that his own Hebrew tradition would have been this thorough, but he probably could not have imagined this from heathens. In Joshua 7, something similar occurred among the people of Israel. Their treatment of the matter was in accord with the law, and it was carried out in a thorough and fair way –

“‘“So Joshua rose early in the morning and brought Israel by their tribes, and the tribe of Judah was taken. 17 He brought the clan of Judah, and he took the family of the Zarhites; and he brought the family of the Zarhites man by man, and Zabdi was taken. 18 Then he brought his household man by man, and Achan the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken.
19 Now Joshua said to Achan, “My son, I beg you, give glory to the Lord God of Israel, and make confession to Him, and tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me.”
20 And Achan answered Joshua and said, “Indeed I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and this is what I have done: 21 When I saw among the spoils a beautiful Babylonian garment, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. And there they are, hidden in the earth in the midst of my tent, with the silver under it.”
22 So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent; and there it was, hidden in his tent, with the silver under it. 23 And they took them from the midst of the tent, brought them to Joshua and to all the children of Israel, and laid them out before the Lord. 24 Then Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, the silver, the garment, the wedge of gold, his sons, his daughters, his oxen, his donkeys, his sheep, his tent, and all that he had, and they brought them to the Valley of Achor. 25 And Joshua said, “Why have you troubled us? The Lord will trouble you this day.” So all Israel stoned him with stones; and they burned them with fire after they had stoned them with stones.”’” Joshua 7:16-25

Like the account of Joshua and Achan, the men here went beyond the casting of lots and into a detailed search for the reason behind the lots. They were unwilling to convict and punish someone who may be either innocent or who may have extenuating circumstances which necessitated leniency.

The sense of what is right, and the notion of the sanctity of human life is carefully highlighted, and is intended to bring out a striking contrast between their actions and those of Jonah. Who is in the right, and who is in the wrong?

It is apparent that God wants us to see the events here from His perspective, not a traditionally Jewish one. Evil has befallen them and they were diligent to search out the matter and determine the source of the evil that they were experiencing. As a result, the question of who acts more righteously in this account is made completely evident.

8 (con’t) What is your occupation?

mah melaktekha – “What is your work?” He, a prophet of God as we have already been told, was unknown to them concerning this most vital role among the people of God. Should such a thing be hidden? Should the position we hold which is preeminent above all others, that of being a follower of Christ, be hidden from others until we are under interrogation?

The Hebrew people were to be a light unto the nations. Of all of them, the prophets and priests should have been at the head of this calling. But these men had no idea of what Jonah did. As a kingdom of priests to the Lord, every person we meet should see something different about us, leading them to know that we are followers of Christ.

For Jonah, they were now asking because he may have been engaged in a work which was dishonest, or he may have been dishonest in his work. And for him, the latter was certainly the case. Knowing this would help them to make a right decision concerning his fate.

8 (con’t) And where do you come from?

u-me-ayin tavo – “And from where come?” We already know the answer. He was a prophet of the Lord in the Land of Promise. They had no idea of this because he was unwilling to proclaim the very word which can save the lost soul. Being seafarers, they would stop in many locations, and the character of the people would be well known to them. Their question is to determine what company he kept. In finding this out, they may know if he was an associate of brawlers, or of hard working and ethical people.

8 (con’t) What is your country?

mah artsekha – “What land to you?” Jonah was from the center of the nations, and the land upon which the eye of the Lord was cast continually. It is the land of promise – both to his fathers and to those who would come after him. And it was the land which he had forsaken in His flight from the Lord. The question is asked of Jonah in order to determine if he had committed some offense against the country he came from. With his response, they could then pry more deeply later if need be.

8 (con’t) And of what people are you?”

v’eh mizzeh am attah – “And of what this people you?” It seems like a repetition of the same question just asked, but the people to whom one belongs are not always known as the people of the land in which they reside. Within Israel, there were several distinct people groups, just as there were and are in many countries. If they could determine the land, and then the people group within the land, they could then determine if he was guilty of some crime against either or both.

The multiple, direct, but non-accusatory questions have been asked with the intent of Jonah bringing any charge back to himself. They are broad enough in scope to give him the greatest latitude in presenting the best case possible for himself.

In other words, he is being treated extremely fairly by these heathens. They are giving him a treatment which he has already refused to give to others. In this, we see shadows of the questioning of Jesus by Pontius Pilate.

So he said to them, “I am a Hebrew;

va’yomer alehem ivri anoki – “And said to them, Hebrew I” It is a very important proclamation. The term “Hebrew” is one of distinction. It is how foreigners spoke of the people of Israel, or when the people of Israel spoke of themselves to foreigners, or when the people are contrasted to foreigners.

Despite being the official designation of the people of God who descended from Abraham, the term “Hebrew” is actually quite rare in the Old Testament. It was first used in Genesis 14:13 to describe Abram before he was renamed Abraham.

In total, it is used only 34 times. The most times are in the book of Exodus (14) and then 1 Samuel (8). This is now the last time it will be used in the Old Testament. The word is derived from the name Eber who descends from Noah’s son, Shem. He is an ancestor of Abraham, and his name essentially means, “yonder side” or as a verb: to pass or cross, and thus, “He who crossed over.”

Eber was alive at the time of the division of languages and he was then certainly the father of the family line that maintained the original language of the earth which we call Hebrew today.

Because Eber means, “He who crossed over” and it is recorded that his descendants lived in Ur which is on the opposite side of the Euphrates from Babylon, it is probable that he and several generations of his descendants moved away from Babylon to Ur, This was at some point after the time of the Tower of Babel.

Abraham was first known as a Hebrew, or one who “crossed over” the Euphrates and away from the area of Babel. It’s likely that Eber was with him because Abraham was born 179 years before Eber died. So this group of people, with this special language, the Hebrew language, crossed over the Euphrates as directed by God’s divine hand, heading west once again.

This title, “Hebrew,” coming from the name Eber, points to a celebration of passing over the great waters of the world. They passed over the Euphrates, they passed through the Red Sea, and they passed over the Jordan and into the Land of Promise. The name and title are directly connected with both a physical and a spiritual crossing over.

In the case of Jonah, he had forsaken the spiritual aspect of the name and was holding onto the physical aspect only. If he thought that he could remain a Hebrew while running from the Lord and passing over a great body of water, he was mistaken. In the New Testament, Paul said that being a Hebrew was a point on which he could boast if by the standards of the world –

“If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.” Philippians 3:4-6

However, Paul goes on in the same passage to say that in the end, genealogy, clan, position, or obedience to the law falls short of the greatness of Jesus Christ. What matters isn’t culture, race, creed, status, or wealth. In the end, what matters is the Lord and our relationship with Him. Jonah wanted the title, but not the relationship. This was so much the case that his next words actually form an oxymoron, at least up until this moment…

9 (con’t) and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven,

v’eth Yehovah elohe ha’shemayim ani yare – “and Yehovah God of the heavens I fear.” Of these words, Jamieson-Faucett-Brown state, “His practice belied his profession: his profession aggravated his guilt.” However, the guilt of his own conscience has now redirected him.

It is as if the storm raging around them acted as a preacher, carrying the Lord’s message for the wayward prophet. He first acknowledged himself as a Hebrew, and then – as if awoken from a slumber – he now says that he fears Yehovah. But even more, he says that He is Yehovah elohe ha’shemayim – Yehovah, the God of the heavens.

The local deities which the sailors encountered everywhere they went were all subordinated to the God Jonah now claims to serve. In fact, the very heavens which raged around the sailors was ruled by the God he feared. Jonah’s mind is now fully awakened to the reality around him, and he is willing to stand on what he had learned from the time of his childhood on. There is one God, and the God he served is that one God.

The storm itself had one effect, the casting of the lots had another. If the storm was a sermon, the specially directed casting of the lots was the call to repentance. He had been targeted by the dice, a call to his heart was made, and he now willingly responds to that call. From this point on, there will be a change in the conduct of Jonah which will carry him through a great ordeal and onto the execution of his prophetic commission. Here he moves from being a picture of disobedient Israel to a picture of obedient Christ.

9 (con’t) who made the sea and the dry land.

asher asah eth ha’yam v’eth ha’yabbashah – “…that made the sea and the dry land.” Not only is this the God of the heavens, but it is He who made the sea and the dry land. The implication is that He is the Creator of all things. There was once no sea and no dry ground, and then these things existed.

A world with no sea or dry ground is no world at all. But through the wisdom, power, and skill of Yehovah, these things were made, and thus He is the Creator, the Force behind, and the Sustainer of them. It is an all-encompassing and exclusive claim. Jonah is now fully awake from his slumber, and he has thoroughly thought through the significance of what the name Yehovah means.

Where are You, O God? Help us on this raging sea
Quiet the waves and bring back the peace
The ocean is far too broad, the waves too mighty
Calm the storm, O Lord; cause the waves to cease

We put our trust in You, surely You will preserve us alive
Cease the tempest and bring to us a time of rest
This please do; to that distant shore we shall arrive
To be with You there, is our hope-filled quest

Guide us safely to that marvelous shore
And may the journey there be one of blissful peace
Calm the storms of life, may they arise no more
Until we are at last with You, may these storms of life cease

II. Hurl Me in the Sea (verses 10-12)

10 Then the men were exceedingly afraid,

va’yireū ha’anashim yirah gedolah – “And feared the men, afraid whoppingly.” With great danger comes a desire to heed the word. For those at ease in the world, there is no need of heeding the word, but when the danger of the tribulation period falls on them, many will be more willing to accept what the Lord has spoken. In the case of the sailors, their eyes have seen the evidences of the truth of Jonah’s claims.

There has been a violent, raging storm which came upon them as if purposefully directed. And then to see if there was guilt by any on board, they cast the lots. These were again purposefully targeted to one soul. And then the words of that targeted person only confirm what they knew must be true. As it says in Isaiah 28 –

“The understanding of this message
will bring sheer terror.” Isaiah 28:19 (NIV)

Jonah has preached a message to the sailors as clearly as the storm has preached to him. The Lord is God, and He is sovereign. Nothing He does can be thwarted, and so man is to fear Him. And so fear they do.

The verse tells us they were “exceedingly afraid.” Because they traveled to Joppa, they must have been aware of the claims made by the Hebrew people. They may have dismissed them in the past, but now they realize that the claim is true. The Creator is upset with Jonah and they’re participating in the results of His anger.

10 (con’t) and said to him, “Why have you done this?”

va’yomeru elav mah zot asita – “…and said unto him, “What this have you done.” This is a rhetorical, horror-filled question which is not looking for an answer. Rather it is as if they think he has gone over the deep end – “Are you completely out of your mind?”

They can easily put two and two together. “Let’s see, the God you serve has created all things. You are attempting to flee from the Creator of all things. And you have brought us along on your little escapade. How could anything be more ridiculous!”

And today, reading the story of Jonah, we can pat the sailors on the back for figuring this out. We may also point our fingers at Jonah and giggle out loud. However, we are just as guilty as Jonah each time we try to hide from the Lord whatever sin we engage in. If He is God, and He is, then whatever we do is fully known by Him. As noted by Moses to the people of Israel, when you sin against the Lord, be sure your sin will find you out.

10 (con’t) For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them.

ki yade-u ha’anashim miliphne Yehovah hu boreakh ki higgid lahem – “For knew the men that from the face Yehovah he fled because he had told them.” The peculiar thing about these words is that it does not tell when he told them this. Most scholars assume that it was in verse 9, and that this is just a fuller explanation than what is recorded there.

But that seems unlikely for a couple reasons. First, it then makes the narrative awkward. Why wait one verse to restate what had just been said? Secondly, it doesn’t sync with what we saw at the end of the last sermon from verse 6. There, the captain said “Arise! Call on your God; it may be that the God will shine on us so that we do not perish.” They had made the assumption that the God he was fleeing from was just “a” God who could then petition “the” God.

They thought nothing more of it until they received the full revelation of who Jonah’s God was from Jonah himself. This appears to be the case here. In ancient times, the gods of the people were assumed to be localized to specific areas. If a person fled from their god, it simply meant that they were fleeing to another god. This was customary and not something that concerned people.

When sailors would travel from port to port, they might even take up the worship of whatever god was the god of that land, assuming it had control of them while in that land. This is something one sees many, many times in the Bible as people followed the gods of whatever land they were in, or of the people groups of other lands. Now, these sailors had a completely different perspective of the God they were already somewhat aware of.

It is for this reason that it is probable that they knew he was fleeing from Yehovah, even from the time he got on the ship. While taking his fare and talking about the journey, they may have asked him where he was heading, and he may have said something like, “Somewhere away from Yehovah, the God of Israel.”

11 Then they said to him, “What shall we do to you that the sea may be calm for us?”

va’yomeru elav mah naaseh lak v’yistoq ha’yam me-alenu – “And said unto, ‘What shall we do to you, and may be calm the sea for us?’” What is astonishing is that they have come to fear the Lord enough in this short time to know that they can’t arbitrarily take action. The natural assumption is normally, “Get rid of the instigator and the problem will disappear with him.”

This is what the Jews of Jesus’ time assumed, and they were wrong. For the sailors, they are wise enough to think the matter through. By now understanding the greatness of the Lord, they see that such an expediency may not actually resolve the situation.

They knew Jonah had the answers, and so they asked, “What should we do?” When a family member is sick, we ask the doctor, “What should we do?” When the car is broken, we ask the mechanic, “What should we do?” When our life is spinning out of control, even when we’ve never acknowledged God a single time, the very first thing we do is cry out, “O God, what should I do?”

When John the Baptist was preaching repentance before the coming wrath, the people of Israel asked the same thing –

“‘“Then he said to the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
10 So the people asked him, saying, “What shall we do then?”
11 He answered and said to them, “He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.”
12 Then tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?”
13 And he said to them, “Collect no more than what is appointed for you.”
14 Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, “And what shall we do?”
So he said to them, “Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages.”’” Luke 3:9-14

The problem with “what shall we do?” is that when we ask it, we’re already in a pickle – the child is sick, the car is broken, the wrath is coming. What we need to do before our life is unmanageable is to take Solomon’s advice… “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth.” Get to know God before the days of evil come. How few of us are actually willing to do this?

For the sailors with Jonah, we are told that the storm was only growing worse. Their question is one which is especially direct, “What shall we do to you…?” They know that whatever they do, it is to involve Jonah specifically. They desire a calm sea, but they desire it out of a newfound fear of the Lord. Therefore, they ask the only person who knows what that fully entails. And there was a sense of urgency to the matter…

11 (con’t) —for the sea was growing more tempestuous.

ki ha’yam holek v’soer – “For the sea worked and was whirling.” It is a Hebrew idiom which indicates something which is growing more and more. It was as if the sea itself was alive and writhing out from under its covers, coming at them by the command of the voice of the Master who directed it.

Each new swell that lifted them, was a warning that they should not delay in taking action, lest all would be lost. Again, the account here takes us to Mark 4 and the dire situation which the disciples felt while Jesus lay sleeping. They woke Him and begged with the pitiful words, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”

There was a time to awaken the Lord who was sure to have a remedy to their plight, and there was a time to petition the Lord for the sailors with Jonah to also remedy their plight.

The word translated as “tempestuous” is the verb form of the word “tempest” from verse 4. As a verb, it is used only 7 times, twice in Jonah, more than any other book. It is from a root which means “to rush upon.” It is used in Zechariah 7 to indicate the Lord’s rage against Israel where He scatters them among the nations –

“Yes, they made their hearts like flint, refusing to hear the law and the words which the Lord of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets. Thus great wrath came from the Lord of hosts. 13 Therefore it happened, that just as He proclaimed and they would not hear, so they called out and I would not listen,” says the Lord of hosts. 14 But I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations which they had not known. Thus the land became desolate after them, so that no one passed through or returned; for they made the pleasant land desolate.” Zechariah 7:12-14

The fear of the Lord by the sailors was going in two directions at once. First, it was in fear of what He was doing, and secondly it was in fear of what He may do if what they did was wrong. They needed an answer, and so they awaited the words of the prophet himself…

12 And he said to them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea;

va’yomer alehem sauni va’hatiluni el ha’yam – “And said to them, ‘Take me up and hurl me forth into the sea.’” Again, the word tul, or “hurl” is used to show us the contrast between what has been and what is now expected. In verse 4, the Lord “hurled” a great wind onto the sea. After this in verse 5, the sailors attempted to lighten the ship by “hurling” the cargo over the sides.

Now, Jonah again uses the word to indicate that in order to stop what the Lord had hurled at them because of what he had chosen to do, they needed to in turn hurl him into the sea and to the fate of the Lord. The word is used in a striking manner for us to consider. Because of the disobedience of Judah, the Lord promised to hurl them out of the land which they dwelt in, using the same word now used in Jonah –

Therefore I will cast you out of this land into a land that you do not know, neither you nor your fathers; and there you shall serve other gods day and night, where I will not show you favor.” Jeremiah 16:13

As a prophet of the Lord, it is with the same resigned attitude which Jeremiah the prophet announced to the people of Judah, and which Jonah now relays his own sentence. It is to be taken as a divine prophecy, and with its fulfillment will come the hope-filled promise of deliverance for those who were so close to perishing…

12 (con’t) then the sea will become calm for you.

v’yishtoq ha’yam me-alekem – “…and be calm the sea for you.” The word for “calm” here is shathaq. It is found only four times in the Bible, two are here in Jonah 1:11 & 12. This is the last time it will be seen. The other two times it is used is in Psalm 107:30 and Proverbs 26:20. In the psalm it indicates the calm after a storm, and in Proverbs it metaphorically speaks of peace after strife.

In this case, it carries both meanings. There will be actual calm upon the seas after the terrifying storm, and there will also be peace after the strife between the Lord and Jonah.

Concerning Jonah, his actions are given as a type of the coming Messiah. He has offered to die in order to allay the terrifying flood of God’s wrath. Should he not be cast into the waters, the flood of God’s wrath will engulf them. And should Jesus not have been cast into the ocean of chaos and death, God’s wrath would likewise remain on us. This is why John records this in his gospel –

“And one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, 50 nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.” 51 Now this he did not say on his own authority; but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad.” John 11:49-52

Jonah spoke the word of the Lord to the men on the ship, forming the type and picture of Messiah to come. In fulfillment of that, Caiaphas spoke under the spirit of prophecy concerning what would occur concerning Christ Jesus.

*12 (fin) For I know that this great tempest is because of me.”

ki yodea ani ki besheli ha’saar ha’gadowl hazeh alekem – “For know I that because of me the tempest, the whopping, this on you.” Jonah understands the consequences of his actions against the Lord, and thus he has arrived at the acceptance of the penalty he deserves because of them. In this realization, he has grown to be more outraged at his own sin, than fearful of the expected suffering which the punishment for that sin demands.

The punishment for his actions must be carried out, or there will be no turning of the Lord from His anger. Again, this is like the account of Achan at the time of Joshua. Until the violator was removed, there would be no relief from the Lord’s anger. Jonah knew that just as Achan brought trouble to Israel, he had brought about trouble for innocent men, and that his life was now forfeit.

This is the message of the Bible. Man has transgressed the law of God and punishment is due for that transgression. But like Jonah who is willing to give himself up for the men on the ship, Jesus was willing to give Himself up for the people of the world.

There is an immense difference between the two as well though. Jonah was guilty and was to be punished for his guilt. Jesus was without guilt, but accepted punishment for those who are guilty. The lesson here is that God cannot simply pass over sin. Instead, it must be judged. But God has also fashioned a means for the punishment to be executed in a Substitute.

In the verses so far, we have seen the Lord’s anger at disobedience. This is the sin of Adam. We have seen the sailor’s attempts to save themselves. This is works-based salvation. We have seen Israel’s failure to meet the law both in their own works and in sharing the light with the Gentiles.

And we have seen God’s determined purpose in the lots. This is the destruction of sin through the fulfillment of the law. A law which now requires a substitute to be sacrificed in order for salvation to be realized. In this act, shathaq, or peace after the strife is the promised and expected result. It is the gospel.

Thank God for Jesus Christ who was both capable and willing to do this for us! It is evident that God loves the people of the world enough to demonstrate that love in the most marvelous of ways. Let us refine our doctrine on salvation to the point where we can clearly and precisely convey it to others. It is the message which desperately needs to be shared with the world.

Closing Verse: “They mount up to the heavens,
They go down again to the depths;
Their soul melts because of trouble.
27 They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man,
And are at their wits’ end.
28 Then they cry out to the Lord in their trouble,
And He brings them out of their distresses.
29 He calms the storm,
So that its waves are still.
30 Then they are glad because they are quiet; (shathaq)
So He guides them to their desired haven.” Psalm 107:26-30

Next Week: Jonah 1:13-17 Surely from what happens, Jonah will show signs of aging… (The Sea Ceased from its Raging) (4th Jonah Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. Even if a deep ocean rages against you and is ready to swallow you up, He can send delivery to you in the most remarkable of ways. So follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

Pick Me Up and Throw Me in the Sea

And they said to one another, in a somewhat heated fuss
“Come, let us cast lots, that we may know
For whose cause this trouble has come upon us
So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah; to Jonah it did go

Then they said to him, “Please tell us!
For whose cause is this trouble upon us? So asked the crew
What is your occupation? And where do you come from?
What is your country? And of what people are you?

So he said to them, “I am a Hebrew
And I fear the LORD, the God of heaven
Who made the sea and the dry land
If you want to know more, stay tuned for News at Eleven

Then the men were exceedingly afraid and to him said
“Why have you done this?” Words forbidding and bold
For the men knew that he fled
From the presence of the LORD, because them he had told

Then they said to him
Asking about their situation so grim

“What shall we do to you that the sea may be calm for us?”
—for the sea was growing more tempestuous

And he said to them, in words stern but true
“Pick me up and throw me into the sea
Then the sea will become calm for you
For I know that this great tempest is because of me

Lord, how amazing it is for us to see
How Another was willing to die for us
There! There upon the cross of Calvary
Hangs the sinless Son of God, our Lord Jesus

And for us He was cast into death’s terrible sea
His life was taken so that we could live
And yet, over death He gained the victory
And to us, that victory He now does freely give

Praises to You, O God, for these things you have done
For the marvelous works, accomplished for us
Our highest praises for the gift of Your Son
Our precious, glorious Savior – our Lord Jesus

Hallelujah and Amen…

Jonah 1:4-6 (Arise! Call on Your God)

Jonah 1:4-6
Arise! Call on Your God

One thing that is universal in people is the reaction to total disaster. It doesn’t matter how completely someone says they don’t believe in God, it doesn’t matter how rebellious someone is, and titles like “atheist” or “agnostic” mean nothing when disaster hits. The first thing people do when facing true calamity is to cry out “O God.”

The hardened sailors of Jonah’s ship were no different. As soon as the real trouble started, they immediately called out to their gods, implying that they accept the premise of a higher power, whether they have the concept of Him right or not. And from the words spoken to Jonah by the captain of this voyage in today’s verses, we know that he knows there is one God above all gods.

And so does everyone else. However, being people as we are, we usually don’t give God the time of day unless we need something from Him. And the greater the need, the more accurately and precisely we tend to call on Him. David had a time in his life when he was in great distress. Actually he had lots of such times. In those moments,  he knew exactly where to turn for relief…

Text Verse: “In my distress I called upon the Lord,
And cried out to my God;
He heard my voice from His temple,
And my cry entered His ears.” 2 Samuel 22:7

Being merciful and gracious, He responded to David every time he called, but how much more pleased do you think the Lord was when David would come to Him without needing a thing. He did this also, and surely the Lord found great pleasure in it. So much so that David was known as a man after God’s own heart.

We too tend to call on the Lord in times of distress, and He is there to respond. But we too should be willing to reach out to Him even when there is no distress. And further, we should be willing to be obedient to Him from the start and avoid the times of distress which will inevitably result from failing to do so.

Jonah is a great example for us to learn this. He didn’t obey, and the times of distress came heavily upon him and those he was with. They had no light of God, and they had no ability to call on Him as He expects. It was up to Jonah alone to make things right. They seemed to figure this out quickly, and they went below the deck of the ship to get things corrected.

This is what is seen in today’s verses. It is what we will take a peek at now. The Lord has given us where to go to figure these things out. It is to be found in His superior word. And so let’s turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. A Mighty Tempest on the Sea (verse 4)

But the Lord sent out a great wind on the sea,

va’Yehovah hetil ruakh gedolah el ha’yam – “And Yehovah hurled wind whopping into the sea.” Verse 3 began with “And arose Jonah…” He had taken his action, and he had done his part to escape his duties. This verse now begins with, “And Yehovah hurled…” It is time for the Lord to accomplish His work, and to deal with the matter accordingly.

The word translated here as “sent” is tul. It means to cast or throw, as if one is hurling a spear. The word is used just fourteen times in the Bible, and four of them – more than any other book – are found in the little book of Jonah. It will be used in the next verse when the sailors throw the cargo overboard.

Such is the magnificence of this wind. It would have been cast upon the vessel suddenly and with great force. The 147th Psalm speaks of Yehovah’s power over the elements in this manner –

“He causes His wind to blow, and the waters flow.” Psalm 147:18

In order to understand what is going on, one must understand what the sea represents in the Bible. It is a place of chaos and confusion. On numerous times, it is equated to restless masses of people- groups and societies. It is a place of lawlessness where people are without God and His order and harmony. This is reflected, for example, in the book of Isaiah –

“But the wicked are like the troubled sea,
When it cannot rest,
Whose waters cast up mire and dirt.
21 There is no peace,”
Says my God, “for the wicked.”’” Isaiah 57:20, 21

In the work of the Lord, the people are brought out of this disorder and into the harmony provided by Him. Again, to Isaiah –

“Then you shall see and become radiant,
And your heart shall swell with joy;
Because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you…” Isaiah 60:5

In Revelation, the great whore is said to sit on “many waters,” meaning the gathering of the waters into a sea. There, the symbolism is explicitly explained –

“The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues.” Revelation 17:5

It is because the sea represents such chaos of the people, without God and without harmony, that we read what it will be like when all things are restored –

“Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.” Revelation 21:1

The word for “sea” here in Jonah is yam, and it is speaking specifically about the Mediterranean, or “great sea.” The word yam, though, is also used to indicate the direction “west.” This is seen, for example, in Genesis 13:14 which says –

“And the Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him: “Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are—northward, southward, eastward, and westward…”

There the word for “westward” is yammah, and thus it is indicating towards the sea. And so we have a picture being developed. Man was cast east out of Eden. The tabernacle points west. The Most Holy Place where the Lord dwells is to the far west. And so the sea being westward, and also representing nations without God, shows man’s futile attempts at false religion in returning to God.

The Great Whore of Revelation sits upon this confusion and directs the masses according to her perverse agenda. It is into this sea that Jonah has gone in order to head away from the Lord, and so the Lord has hurled His wind upon the waters to redirect the situation.

Every detail is being selected by the Lord to show us an ongoing picture of the redemption of man. Jonah has left the land of Israel which is set apart by God. Instead of going to where he was supposed to go in order to bring restoration to those who are separate and apart from God, he heads west into the great sea. How can the people whom God is calling to repentance do so when Jonah has gone into the sea, picturing the world which is already in chaos, confusion, and rebellion against the Lord?

And that now brings in another need for us to meet. We are to understand what the wind pictures in the Bible. The word is ruakh, and it is the same word which is translated as “spirit” and “breath.” For example, in Genesis 1:2, the word ruakh is used when speaking of the Spirit of God –

“The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.”

There was chaos and confusion, and the Spirit of God was there to bring it into order and harmony. Thus, the wind, or spirit, in the Bible symbolizes the presence and power of God, both positive and negative in how it is directed and used. For example, the wind can be negative in causing scattering and destruction, and it can also be positive in the changes it effects.

As the wind blows from an unseen source, in it there is a symbolic a type of relationship between the divine and the created. Jesus speaks of exactly this in John 3. As you listen, remember that to the Hebrew mind, the word “wind” and “spirit” were the same, and so they would carry a dual meaning to the ears of Nicodemus –

“‘“Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:5-8

The different directions from which winds come can add to the meaning of the wind itself. Together they will combine to form a picture of what God is doing. This is seen, for example, in the east wind. It is a wind of destruction and calamity. The east wind is what blighted the crops in Pharaoh’s dreams in Genesis. It is also what brought the plague of locusts upon the land of Egypt, and the wind which in Exodus divided the waters of the Red Sea. In Jeremiah, and many other places, the east wind is one of power and destruction –

“I will scatter them as with an east wind before the enemy;
I will show them the back and not the face
In the day of their calamity” Jeremiah 18:17

In fact, the east wind itself will be used in this way in Chapter 4 of Jonah. Wind also symbolizes doctrine – both correct and false doctrine. The spirit of God directs proper doctrine, but man directs false doctrine. Paul speaks of this in Ephesians 4:14 –

“…that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting…”

In addition to this, wind symbolizes that which is temporary and vain. In the 78th Psalm, it is used to show that which is temporary –

“For He remembered that they were but flesh,
A breath that passes away and does not come again.” Psalm 78:39

Isaiah shows that the wind symbolizes that which is vain –

“Indeed they are all worthless;
Their works are nothing;
Their molded images are wind and confusion.” Isaiah 41:29

The Lord is now sending His wind upon the sea of chaos in order to cause confusion which is then intended to restore order. It is a marvelous picture which is being developed for us to pay heed to and understand.

4 (con’t) and there was a mighty tempest on the sea,

vay’hi sa’ar gadowl b’yam – “…and there was a tempest whopping on the sea.” The word “mighty” here is the same as that of the wind in the previous clause – gadol, meaning “great” or “mighty.” The mighty wind was the source of the mighty tempest. This word “tempest” is sa’ar. It is a tempest, even like a hurricane. It is the same type of storm that Paul was caught in towards the end of the book of Acts. In Acts 27, this is recorded –

“When the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their desire, putting out to sea, they sailed close by Crete. 14 But not long after, a tempestuous head wind arose, called Euroclydon. 15 So when the ship was caught, and could not head into the wind, we let her drive.” Acts 27:13-15

The Lord caused both of these men to endure such a great storm in order to effect His purposes. In the case of the wind, it is from the Lord, but in the case of the tempest, it indicates the presence of the Lord – for good or for ill.

The whirlwind which took Elijah to heaven was described by this same word. He was there, safe and secure in the presence of the Lord as he was raptured to heaven. The whirlwind from which the Lord spoke to Job is also this same word. The Lord was there in the whirlwind, speaking to Job about the glory He alone possesses. In Jeremiah, the same word is used several times to indicate the terrifying presence of the destructive power of the Lord –

“Behold, a whirlwind of the Lord has gone forth in fury—
A violent whirlwind!
It will fall violently on the head of the wicked.
20 The anger of the Lord will not turn back
Until He has executed and performed the thoughts of His heart.
In the latter days you will understand it perfectly.” Jeremiah 23:19

In the theophany of the Lord to Ezekiel, He is within the great tempest itself once again –

“Then I looked, and behold, a whirlwind was coming out of the north, a great cloud with raging fire engulfing itself; and brightness was all around it and radiating out of its midst like the color of amber, out of the midst of the fire. Also from within it came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance: they had the likeness of a man. Each one had four faces, and each one had four wings. Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the soles of calves’ feet. They sparkled like the color of burnished bronze. The hands of a man were under their wings on their four sides; and each of the four had faces and wings. Their wings touched one another. The creatures did not turn when they went, but each one went straight forward.” Ezekiel 1:4-9

Citing these many references is not a superfluous thing to do. Rather, by understanding a broader picture of such a tempest, we can grasp what is being relayed to us in the book of Jonah. The wind of the Lord has been directed towards Jonah. From it has come the tempest of the Lord. Jonah could not flee from Him at all, but instead, he was caught up in His awesome presence!

He was doggedly pursued and then surrounded by the presence of the Lord in order to bring harmony and order out of chaos and confusion. In the pages of this book, we are given front row seats into the very heart of God’s redemptive plans for man.

Each aspect of this story is passing before our eyes to show us what God is up to and how it points to the greater work of Christ on behalf of the people of the world. The wind which has come is powerful and it has purpose. In the psalms, there is a beautiful parallel to what will be next mentioned in our on-going narrative…

“Fear took hold of them there,
And pain, as of a woman in birth pangs,
As when You break the ships of Tarshish
With an east wind.” Psalm 48:6, 7

4 (con’t) so that the ship was about to be broken up.

v’ha’oniyah khishevah l’hishaver – “…and the ship thought it should be broken.” The language here is vivid. It is as if the ship senses its own danger as it rose and fell among the great waves, and as it was blown and shattered by the terrifying winds. This was so much so, that it thought it was breaking apart. The ship considers itself, and then it considers the power of God’s tempest, and it sees in itself nothing but weakness in the comparison.

The margin notes of the Hebrew text indicates that the term “broken up” is also used in a graphic personification of the ship. It is as if the ship itself was a living thing which surrounded and protected the sailors – it has feelings, it has hopes, and it has fears. But these were all to end with its destruction. The same word is used of the people of Israel in Jeremiah 14:17 –

“Therefore you shall say this word to them:
‘Let my eyes flow with tears night and day,
And let them not cease;
For the virgin daughter of my people
Has been broken with a mighty stroke, with a very severe blow.”

The place of security within the sea of chaos was itself to be overwhelmed by the chaos which surrounded it. The sailors were certain to look beyond themselves for relief, or they were to look to their fate in resignation, but they could not look to their own efforts to save them.

This is what happened to Paul in Acts 27. The tempest was so powerful that they had to undergird the ship with cables so that it would not break at the seams. Eventually, the ship was grounded on a shoal and broken to pieces, but all on the ship survived.

Jonah is on a ship of Tarshish, and the wind has come against it, just as the winds described by the psalmist I quoted earlier noted that the winds came against the ships of Tarshish. The Bible is asking us to make these connections so that we can then understand the greater picture of what is occurring.

That psalm is specifically one which speaks of the glory of God in Zion. In the psalm it says that according to God’s name, so is His praise, even to the ends of the earth. How can God’s name be praised unto the ends of the earth unless His people proclaim it.

This is what Jonah has been asked to do, and this is what he has fled from. His actions have caused the wind and the tempest, and those things have brought the ship of Tarshish to the very edge of destruction. The souls of the men must have been terrified of the works of the Lord, though they don’t yet know Him. It is, again, reflective of the words of the psalmist –

“Those who go down to the sea in ships,
Who do business on great waters,
24 They see the works of the Lord,
And His wonders in the deep.
25 For He commands and raises the stormy wind,
Which lifts up the waves of the sea.
26 They mount up to the heavens,
They go down again to the depths;
Their soul melts because of trouble.” Psalm 107:23-25

As we consider Jonah’s situation, we cannot overlook that in Matthew 8, something similar occurs. We are being shown in Jonah a taste of the greater ministry of the Lord. The account details what happened to the disciples as they accompanied Jesus –

Now when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him. 24 And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep. 25 Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!”
26 But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. 27 So the men marveled, saying, “Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” Matthew 8:23-27

In the case of Jonah, the Lord was directing his movements back to where they should be. In the case of the disciples, He was directing their eyes to understand the nature of the Person who had accompanied them in their trip across the Sea of Galilee.

We’ve all been directed by the elements at one time or another. When I lived in Japan, one summer I went swimming in the Mitake River. There’s a slow moving pond toward the beginning of the river that’s a well-known place for swimming.

However, if you aren’t careful, you can get pulled into the faster moving area and taken down through very steep rapids before you even realize it. This happened to me and it’s the closest I ever came to death.

It should have been a wakeup call to me, but it was another 10 years before I realized the gift I’d been given that day. Unfortunately, just a few weeks after my incident, another young person drowned. How the Lord works in our lives is, at times, rather mysterious.

We need to be attentive to these things and think on where the Lord is steering us. Will Jonah respond to the call? Will those with him also respond? And when the Lord sends the wind and the whirlwind into your life, will you turn back from the wayward journey you are on?

A great wind upon the sea
Stirring up chaos and uncertainty
This is how it appeared it would always be
Life seemed to be no more than absurdity

The ship of life tossed about, no direction known
It appeared that all would be lost
We looked for help, but none to us was shown
What will it take, how high is the cost?

When all seemed hopeless, help finally came
There upon the hill a quieting of the sea
Upon the hill a cross, and on it One with no blame
The help has come, the waves are still; there is hope for you and me

II. But Jonah (verse 5)

Then the mariners were afraid;

va’yire-u ha’malakhim – “And were afraid the mariners.” The term malakhim, or “sailors,” is a plural noun which is the same as the noun melakh, or “salt.” In other words, they are “the salts,” and thus “mariners.” We use the same terminology concerning our sailors today. The word is used just four times in the Bible, three times in Ezekiel, and the final time here.

These men of the sea, experienced and knowledgeable concerning its power and ways, understood that this was a dire situation that they were in. Their efforts to save the ship would be futile. The fear they felt is reflective of the fear of the mariners who conducted Paul to Rome. We know this, because Paul had to quell their fears with his words of encouragement –

“But after long abstinence from food, then Paul stood in the midst of them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me, and not have sailed from Crete and incurred this disaster and loss. 22 And now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. 23 For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, 24 saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ 25 Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me. 26 However, we must run aground on a certain island.” Acts 27:21-26

5 (con’t) and every man cried out to his god,

va’yizaqu ish elohav – “…and cried every man unto his god.” The word zaaq, or “cry,” comes from a primitive root which means “to shriek” as if from anguish or danger. They perceived their danger, and so they cry out to their gods.

In Shakespeare’s The Tempest, when things got to this point, the play follows the same pattern as these men now – “All lost! to prayers! to prayers, all lost!” The sailors were probably from various locations, and so each had his own god whom he worshipped.

Each called on the god he believed in, hoping for relief from the plight. It was in a state of ignorance that they had received Jonah who had offended the true God. It is in this same state of ignorance of the true God that they now call out for help, calling on whatever god they had come to know.

As we will see, their gods were ineffectual. There is only one God who answers prayer, and He answers it according to His own wisdom and for His own purposes. In another exciting time in Israel’s history, the people were confused about where prayers should be directed. Elijah came to remove their confusion –

“So they took the bull which was given them, and they prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even till noon, saying, “O Baal, hear us!” But there was no voice; no one answered. Then they leaped about the altar which they had made.
27 And so it was, at noon, that Elijah mocked them and said, “Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is meditating, or he is busy, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is sleeping and must be awakened.” 28 So they cried aloud, and cut themselves, as was their custom, with knives and lances, until the blood gushed out on them. 29 And when midday was past, they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice. But there was no voice; no one answered, no one paid attention.” 1 Kings 18:25-29

After their failure, Elijah came forward and had his sacrifice prepared. After dousing it in water three times, we read the outcome of his prayer –

“And it came to pass, at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near and said, “Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word. 37 Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that You are the Lord God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again.”

38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench. 39 Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, “The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!” 1 Kings 18:36-39

Will these men of the sea come to the same realization that the wayward people of Israel did? Stay tuned for the exciting details as the book continues on.

5 (con’t) and threw the cargo that was in the ship into the sea, to lighten the load.

va’yatilu eth ha’kelim asher ba’oniyah el ha’yam l’haqel me-alehem – “and hurled the wares that in the ship into the sea to lighten of.” Even after crying out to their gods, no one paid attention. The psalmist, so long ago, spoke about the nature of the true God in contrast to the gods of the nations. He is in control, but they have no power –

“But our God is in heaven;
He does whatever He pleases.
Their idols are silver and gold,
The work of men’s hands.
They have mouths, but they do not speak;
Eyes they have, but they do not see;
They have ears, but they do not hear;
Noses they have, but they do not smell;
They have hands, but they do not handle;
Feet they have, but they do not walk;
Nor do they mutter through their throat.
Those who make them are like them;
So is everyone who trusts in them.” Psalm 115:3-8

I used to have Buddha’s all around my house. Some people practice Feng Shui hoping it will give them proper chi, other people look for enlightenment through yoga or transcendental meditation, or in some other crazy way. In the end these things move us further from God, they don’t bring Him near.

Back on the ship, because the sailor’s prayers were ineffective, they next take action once again by hurling their wares into the sea. It is the same word that was used in verse 4 when the Lord hurled the great wind into the sea. You can see the contrast – the Lord hurls a wind into the sea so that the ship was about to be broken up, and they hurl their precious cargo into that same sea in order to keep the ship from breaking up.

There is a marvelous parallelism between the two. The Lord sends from His hand a wind of correction, while the men attempt to save themselves by the work of their hands. Their gods had failed them, and so they believe they must work their way to salvation.

The word, qalal, which is translated as “lighten” is found three times in 2 Chronicles 10. The people of Israel had come to Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, and they had asked for relief from the heavy load that his father had imposed on them. He uses the same word in his answer –

“Then the young men who had grown up with him spoke to him, saying, “Thus you should speak to the people who have spoken to you, saying, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, but you make it lighter on us’—thus you shall say to them: ‘My little finger shall be thicker than my father’s waist! 11 And now, whereas my father put a heavy yoke on you, I will add to your yoke; my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scourges!’” 2 Chronicles 10:10, 11

The mariners are trying to lighten their load in order to ease the burden they bear in order to be saved. But they do not yet know the Lord who is the only One who can actually accomplish this –

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

The picture we are to see is that these men carry a burden they are not even aware of. Until they meet the Lord, the burden will remain and the whirlwind will continue to wreak its terrifying havoc upon them.

And again, as has happened, and as will continue to happen, parallels from this account in Jonah run deep in the New Testament. Just as they threw cargo over to lighten the load on the ship, the mariners on the ship that Paul was on did the same thing when they were caught in the storm –

“And because we were exceedingly tempest-tossed, the next day they lightened the ship. On the third day we threw the ship’s tackle overboard with our own hands.” Acts 27:14-19

Later in the same account, they threw over the precious cargo of wheat which they had kept on board in order to further lighten the ship. There was great loss, but it was in hopes of gaining life. However, their actions were of faith in the promises of God as relayed to them by Paul. The actions of the men in this account in Jonah are that of works, not faith, in order to be saved.

5 (con’t) But Jonah had gone down into the lowest parts of the ship,

v’yonah yarad el yarkete ha’sephinah – “And Jonah was gone down into the recesses [of] the ship.” The words show the complete contrast of Jonah to those who were working with all their might to save themselves. He knew that he could not save himself. He was out of favor with the Lord, and there was no reason to do anything but sleep.

And so he went down into the recesses of the ship. It is the furthest place he could go in order to hide from the anger of the Lord, and he simply, and uncaringly, fell asleep. Interestingly, the word sephinah, translated as “ship” here, is a different word than that mentioned above. It is found only this once in the entire Bible.

It comes from the word saphan which mean covered or paneled. That comes from a primitive root meaning to “hide by covering” such as roofing a house. In essence, the words are relaying, “But Jonah had gone down into the lowest parts of the covered vessel.”

He was hiding in the ship from the Lord, but the Lord had followed him. He felt he was safe and he reveled in uncaring self-security. He was living up to the dual meaning of his name. He was called to bring a message of repentance, and thus hoped-for peace to one group of people, but he had so far only vexed those he was with.

5 (con’t) had lain down, and was fast asleep.

va’yishkav va’yeradamand lay and was fast asleep.” The Greek translation of the Old Testament says, “…was asleep and snoring.” The word in Hebrew is radam. It is a word used just 7 times in the Bible and it gives the idea of being in a dead sleep. It comes from a primitive root which indicates to stun, or stupefy. It is what happened to Daniel when he had exceedingly fearful visions.

In these words then is a contrast to the personified awakened state of the ship in verse 4. The ship was animated to fear through the terrifying rush of the storm upon it because of Jonah’s flight. At the same time, Jonah was fast asleep, even to a deadened state because of it.

When you’re on a ship, the lowest parts are the best place to sleep because they don’t bounce as much. That and towards the back of the boat. This is where the captain normally sleeps. Just as Jonah was fast asleep in the hold of the ship in the middle of the great storm, the words of Matthew tell us about Jesus during the storm on the Sea of Galilee. It says in Matthew 8:24 –

“And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep.” Matthew 8:24

He was able to sleep because He knew who He was, what His role was, and that there was no need to fear. Today, when we get anxious about things, we tend to forget that He has it all under control, and instead, we toss and turn just like a ship on the ocean. But if we can really trust the Lord and His word,  then the storms of life are nothing compared to the peace and calm He provides. They’re His storms and it’s His peace. We simply need to choose which we’re going to think on and which to rest in.

Here we are, sore afraid
As we cry out in our helpless state
Praying that the tempestuous winds will be stayed
Praying for a deliverance so great

The works of our hands cannot save us
Nothing we do can bring us to the place of safety
But up on the hill we see our Lord Jesus
As His body hangs lifeless, there upon the tree

Shine Your light on us O God
Let the light of Christ illuminate our souls
Hear our praises as to You we applaud
And as the sound of the heavenly music rolls.

Praise be to You, O matchless King!
Be honored, O Lord, as to You our voices sing!

III. Arise, Call on Your God! (verse 6)

So the captain came to him, and said to him,

va’yiqrav elav rav ha’khovel va’yomer lo – “And came near unto, great the pilot and said to him”

The words translated as “captain” are rav ha’khovel, or “the great pilot.” The khovel is only mentioned five times in the Bible, four in Ezekiel and once here. It is an active participle which comes from a word that gives the sense of handling ropes, and thus it is a sailor. With the adjective rav, or “great” attached to it, the captain or chief pilot is indicated. He is the chief of those who work with ropes.

As the Hebrew society did not frequent the seas, their nautical terminology is rather obscure, but the intent can be drawn out. The malakhim or, “salts,” mentioned earlier would be a general term for seafaring men. The word now is used more specifically to define steersmen or top-men. It is the chief of this class that comes down into the recesses of the ship and addresses Jonah…

6 (con’t) “What do you mean, sleeper?

mah lekha nirdam – “What to, O sleeper?” In his address to Jonah, his words use the same term for sleep as before. In other words, “How can you be in such a dead sleep?” It is as if he is utterly befuddled by the situation. And so even more, it is asking what kind of affliction Jonah suffers from – “What is the matter with you that you’re in such a dead sleep?”

There is terror on every side, and Jonah is down below sleeping like a baby. He seems to wonder if he has any conscience or any fear at all. “Are you completely deadened to heaven’s mercies?”

Thus, the Hebrew prophet who was sent to the greatest Gentile nation on earth in order to rebuke them of their sin is, in turn, rebuked by a pagan shipmaster who has come to wake him up out of his spiritual lethargy, symbolized by his deep slumber in the flesh.

The contrasts are astounding, and the picture in relation to Israel as a people is astonishing. And so even more, the picture of the dead church of today is all the more relevant.

6 (con’t) Arise, call on your God;

Qum qera el elohekha – “Arise call on your God.” What seems to be implied here is that they knew there was something particular about Jonah. Verse 10 will say, “For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them.” It doesn’t say when he told them this, but it could be that it was before this time.

They had been unsuccessful in crying out to their gods, they had been unsuccessful in their attempts to save themselves through the work of their hands, and now they were left with but one option. If this person was fleeing his God, and if his God was so powerful that He could cause such a violent storm, then that God might still be near enough to save them from the storm, and willing to do so as well. It is with this thought in mind that we come to the final words of our verses today…

*6 (fin) perhaps your God will consider us, so that we may not perish.”

Ulay yitashet ha’elohim lanu v’lo noved – “…if so be will shine the God to us that not do we perish.” It is a clause rich in its words. First, the Hebrew does not say simply “God” as in the KJV – “…if so be that God will think upon us.” Nor does it say “your God” as is translated here by the NKJV. Instead it says, “the God.”

As with all people, there is a fundamental understanding that there is one supreme God. They have called on their lesser “gods,” and there has been no response. Jonah is now being asked to call on his God, in hopes that “the God” will respond to his call.

This is the intent of the captain, and it is clearly laid out by the term ha’elohim, or “the God.” It is an unmistakable point which is being conveyed in the specific wording of the passage.

Next, the captain says the word ashath. It is a verb which means “to shine.” It is translated here as “think.” Other versions say “notice us,” “pay attention to us,” “be concerned about us,” or “have compassion on us,” This word, ashath, comes from a primitive root which means “to be sleek” and thus glossy and hence through the idea of polishing to shine.

It is used only one other time in the Bible, in Jeremiah 5:28, where it is translated as either sleek or shine. There is no reason to assume that it should be any differently here. In other words, the captain says, “Perhaps the God will shine on us.” When God shines on someone, it means that He illuminates their thinking, shows them favor, and restores them to a propitious place of peace and harmony between Himself and that person.

By shining the light, everything is made manifest by the light. Despite being in a real storm in the sea of chaos, and despite being under physical harm, there is a spiritual connotation that is being drawn out, even by this pagan captain. There is disharmony between them and God which needs to be rectified.

Though they don’t know of the gospel, they do know that there is a need for the gospel. The light of the gospel message is the only way to make things which are indecent appear as they really are. Once the truth of the gospel shines on the deeds of wickedness, they are exposed and can be compared to that which is right, holy, and proper.

From that knowledge, they can then do what is needed with that light to come to a right relationship with God. Paul says exactly this to us in the book of Ephesians. It very well could be that he was pondering this verse from Jonah at some point and came to this conclusion –

“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. 14 Therefore He says:
Awake, you who sleep,
Arise from the dead,
And Christ will give you light.” Ephesians 5:11-14

The captain says to the one who is sleeping as if dead, “Arise from the dead O sleeper! Perhaps the God will shine on us, that we might not perish.” It is the internal call of the lost human soul for the knowledge of God found in the face of Jesus Christ.

Just as the cock’s crow began the recovery of Peter from his spiritual slumber, the call of this pagan shipmaster to Jonah is the beginning of his own spiritual recovery. And once again, the symbolism from Jonah echoes through time and is found again in the voices of the apostles which cry out to Jesus…

Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” Matthew 8:25

At this point, they didn’t understand who Jesus was or the power He held in His grasp, but they knew enough to see that they were incapable of handling the situation, just like those on Jonah’s ship. In desperation, they called out to the last One who may be able to do something to keep them from drowning.

This is exactly what happens again and again in our own lives. We wait until things are so completely botched up that there is simply nowhere else to turn.

Whether in our own lives, or whether in the state of the nations, there is a time when it will be too late and the boards will rupture from the storms which press on every side. Let’s hope that like the ancient mariners of Jonah’s time, and of the time when the apostles were in the boat with Jesus, that each individual and each nation will make the best of the bad situation before it’s simply too late.

If you are still in a spiritually deadened sleep where the light of Christ has not yet shown through to call you into His marvelous kingdom, I would hope that today would be the day you get that fixed. All people know instinctively that there is a God, one true God, who is there above the storms of life. But we will go to the furthest recesses of the world to escape from Him.

Let us not be so hard hearted that we would hide ourselves from Him, but instead, Awake you who sleep. Arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light. Call on Him today and receive the radiance of God’s love and forgiveness for you, direct from the foot of the cross of Calvary.

Closing Verse: For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.” Ephesians 5:8-10

Next Week: Jonah 1:7-12 What is Jonah nuts? He just said quite plainly… (Pick Me Up and Throw Me Into the Sea) (3rd Jonah sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. Even if a deep ocean rages against you and is ready to swallow you up, He can send delivery to you in the most remarkable of ways. So follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

Arise! Call on Your God

But the LORD sent out a great wind on the sea
And there was on the sea a tempest mighty
So that the ship was about to be broken up thoroughly
Such was the power of the wind from the Almighty

Then the mariners were afraid, even sorely
And every man cried out to his god
And threw the cargo that was in the ship into the sea
To lighten the load, the precious cargo gathered from abroad

But Jonah had gone down, without a peep
Into the lowest parts of the ship
Had lain down, and was fast asleep
He was enjoying a nap while on this trip

So the captain came to him, and to him said
“What do you mean, sleeper? Arise, call on your God
Perhaps your God will consider us as we sail ahead
So that we may not perish on this ocean so broad

Lord, can we hide from Your presence?
Could we attempt to secret ourselves away from You?
Instead, we should draw near and enjoy the pleasance
We know it is what You would have us to do

Help us, Lord, to be faithful to Your call upon our lives
And to never attempt to run from doing what is right
When Your call comes, yes the moment it arrives
May we be found to answer, and be pleasing in Your sight

Surely in this You will be happy with us
As we follow obediently, in the steps of our Lord Jesus

Hallelujah and Amen…

Jonah 1:1-3 (From the Presence of the Lord)

Jonah 1:1-3
From the Presence of the Lord

Most of us have either read the book of Jonah, or we’re at least familiar with the remarkable aspects of the book. The first question we have to ask is, “Is this story literally true?” The answer is “Yes, we are to accept it as such.” It is to be taken as a literal and historical account of what occurred.

There is no hint in the Bible that it is to be taken as an allegory or a myth, although parts of it can be applied allegorically to events later in redemptive history. Jesus makes this perfectly clear. The person Jonah is mentioned 19 times in the Old Testament, once in the book of 2 Kings, and 18 times in this book.

That he was mentioned in 2 Kings, establishes the fact that he was as real as any other figure mentioned in the Bible. There it records this, which occurred during the reign of Jeroboam, king of Israel –

 In the fifteenth year of Amaziah the son of Joash, king of Judah, Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel, became king in Samaria, and reigned forty-one years. 24 And he did evil in the sight of the Lord; he did not depart from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who had made Israel sin. 25 He restored the territory of Israel from the entrance of Hamath to the Sea of the Arabah, according to the word of the Lord God of Israel, which He had spoken through His servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet who was from Gath Hepher.” 2 Kings 14:23-25

In these three verses, six individuals are named, six locations are named, and a precise dating is given. Therefore, Jonah is to be considered a real person according to judicial law which states that –

“Every document, apparently ancient, coming from the proper repository or custody, and bearing on its face no evident marks of forgery, the law presumes to be genuine, and devolves on the opposing party the burden of proving it to be otherwise.” Simon Greenleaf

The record meets these requirements and it thus establishes Jonah as a true historical figure. Further, Jonah and his account, including the remarkable aspect of his time in the belly of the great fish, is referred to by Jesus nine times in seven verses of the books of Matthew and Luke.

Therefore, to question the account of Jonah in the Old Testament as literal and historical, is to then question the integrity of the Lord Jesus and the word of God itself. And so, with the exception of some flowery verses in his prayer which match those of the psalms and are therefore probably not literal, but rather applied to his mood at the time, there is no excuse that the account should not be taken as having actually occurred. The answer again is, “Yes, we are to accept the story of Jonah as literal, historical, and true.”

As we have noted and will see again as the verses begin, Jonah was the son of Amittai. He was from Gath Hepher which was located within the tribe of Zebulun in Israel, and his prophetic office occurred during the reign of Jeroboam the son of Joash.

This means that he was a prophet just after Elisha and just before Amos and Hosea. He was called to preach repentance to the people of Nineveh. This was somewhere between 793-753 B.C.

Nineveh was a great city, taking three days to walk around, and it was the capitol of Assyria which is in current day Iraq. This was the same people who later conquered and took into exile the northern tribes of Israel. It’s also the same people who later came against the southern tribe of Judah. When they surrounded Jerusalem, the Angel of the Lord killed 185,000 in a single night.

The book is written in the form of a third-person narrative and it’s also written in a chronological order. Along with Ruth, several passages of Isaiah, and a few other examples interspersed throughout the Old Testament writings, Jonah tells us that God’s love and purposes are not only for the Jewish people, but all the people of the world who call on the name of the Lord. Within the book itself are an amazing number of chiasms. They can be reviewed at

There is more to this book than that though. What occurs in Nineveh will be used by the Lord as a valid excuse for judgment against His own people, showing that He is perfectly just and fair in what occurs to them for their willful disobedience towards Him.

The prophecies of the book only concern Nineveh. Israel is never mentioned in it in this regard. The other prophets mention either Israel the land, or Israel the people, in some way concerning their prophetic utterances, but Jonah does not. This then makes the book both unique and a tacit rebuke against them.

The actions of the pagan people of Nineveh, from the greatest to the least, are set in contrast to those of Israel. From the first call for them to repent, the people hurriedly and decidedly did so. On the other hand, the prophets’ call for Israel to repent went on year after year and generation after generation.

The mouths of countless prophets, both those who are recorded in the Bible and many others who are not, called to the people to repent, and they failed to do so. Instead, they willfully and constantly turned their necks to the Lord, and they trampled His glory underfoot, even with relish as they did so.

They, the people of Israel, were the stewards of God’s oracles and His law. They gloried in this fact, and they wore it as if it were a cloak of honor to them. But they could not see that the grace that they received under the law, which set them apart as a people, was also intended for the Gentile people of the world.

Instead, they stood opposed to this fact. The story of Jonah will be used as a testimony against them by the Lord Jesus, and it will find its fulfillment during the their second exile, which is the time of the Gentile-led church age. This is witnessed in the words of Paul in 1 Thessalonians 2 –

“For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus. For you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, just as they did from the Judeans, 15 who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they do not please God and are contrary to all men, 16 forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved, so as always to fill up the measure of their sins; but wrath has come upon them to the uttermost.” 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16

Israel was supposed to be a light to the nations, showing them the nature, character, and expectations of the true God. But instead, they turned inwards, treating the Lord in their midst as a badge of righteousness which was because of who they were in relation to Him, not who He was in relation to them. They failed to see the need for imputed righteousness. As John Darby says concerning the book of Jonah –

“Israel failed even in maintaining their own faithfulness, and consequently therefore in that which was the only means of making the world, as such, to understand the true character of God. Instead therefore of being made a blessing to others, they only involved them in the divine judgments that were to fall upon themselves.” John Darby

Jonah the man will be used in a delightful number of ways to draw out the Lord’s intent for Israel, for the Gentile nations, and for an understanding by all of the workings of God in the process of redemption. Jamieson-Fausset-Brown make the following observations about him –

“Jonah is himself a strange paradox: a prophet of God, and yet a runaway from God: a man drowned, and yet alive: a preacher of repentance, yet one that repines at repentance. Yet Jonah, saved from the jaws of death himself on repentance, was the fittest to give a hope to Nineveh, doomed though it was, of a merciful respite on its repentance. The patience and pity of God stand in striking contrast with the selfishness and hard-heartedness of man.”

In addition to the literal and historical nature of the book, it is also a book of morals. These will be evidenced throughout the story. There are the fixed, firm, and eternal moral standards of God, and there are also the expected moral standards of man in relation to God. These will be drawn out for us to see and consider.

And there is also the prophetic aspect of the book of Jonah. This is not merely realized in the immediate prophetic words of the Lord to and through Jonah, but also in the prophetic implications of the story itself. There is hidden in this story a marvelous prophecy which is realized in the later writings of the word of God.

Jonah proves himself to be a true prophet then, not only by the events which he participates in, but also in the greater prophecies which he and his actions point to.

Jonah is the 32nd book of the Bible, but chronologically, it comes before many of the earlier books in the Christian Canon. It is the 5th book of the 12 Minor Prophets and the 10th book of all 17 prophetic books. It is one of what are known as the “pre-exilic” books, because it occurs before the exiles of the people.

If Jonah wasn’t included in the Bible, we would have a much narrower Old Testament view of God’s intent for Gentiles. Ruth brings only one Gentile into the picture, and she became part of the Jewish people through marriage.

Isaiah refers to the Gentiles quite a few times, but these are interspersed throughout the book and could easily be dismissed by an unsympathetic audience. However, it’s very hard to imagine anyone seeing Jonah’s purpose in any other light than that God is merciful to the Gentile as well as the Jew. What else would be missing if Jonah wasn’t in the Bible? Well… a fairly fantastic and fun fish story!

Text Verse: “Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.” Psalm 139:7-9

It is actually quite appropriate that we decided to come to this small book between our journey from Exodus to Leviticus. In it, we will see a contrast between the Pharaoh, king of Egypt and that of the king of Nineveh. Countless times in Exodus, we read the words, “Pharaoh’s heart grew hard,” or something very similar to that. Chapter 3 of Jonah will show us a complete contrast to this in the king of Nineveh.

One of the things we have to ask concerning this book is, “Why is Nineveh selected for this word from the Lord?” There were numerous countries around Israel that were wicked and which were to be destroyed for their wickedness. Why has the Lord selected this one nation to have a prophet go and proclaim repentance to them?

When looked at from this perspective, it is obvious that the Lord is going to use this account for moral purposes, prophetic purposes, and pictorial purposes of Christ to come. These, along with the historical account, will become an integral part of the word of God. They will help us to understand the redemptive process in a much greater way.

As far as an introduction, we could go on and on, almost endlessly, as to facts and figures, and dates and locations concerning the details of the book, but there are many resources which can be obtained to tell us those things. What we need to do now is to get into the word, because this is where the heart of God is to be found. Yes, it is there in His superior word. And so let’s turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

The Word of the Lord

Now (Note: I will be reading each verse in Hebrew and giving my translation of it throughout the book) vai’hi – “and now.” In the Hebrew, the book opens with the words – vai’hi debar Yehovah el yonah ben amittay lemor – “And came the word of Yehovah unto Jonah son of Amittai saying…” A book beginning with the word “and” may seem out of place to us. It is as if we read the Bible and come to the book and find it is merely a continuation of the same story we have been reading.

And for all intents and purposes it is. God is revealing to us wonders, unfolding them in a logical sequence which may or may not be chronological, but they fit in a fashion as orderly as if they were chronological. It is like a string of precious pearls which are connected together. Each is separate, and yet they are united as one grand whole.

This same “And” begins the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles, Ezekiel, Esther, and Ezra. Beginning this way is certainly intended to show us an unraveling of a thought process which had already began elsewhere.

The beginning of the book with “And” shows that the writer is referencing in his own thoughts a set of national records, the oracles of God, which had begun before. He is willingly and consciously taking up this same thread of history and placing himself and his narrative into it. It is thus a claim to the divine inspiration which guides him, and which has guided all of the oracles of God to this point.

1 (con’t) the word of the Lord came

devar Yehovah – “word Yehovah.” This same phrase is used 102 times in the Bible. All are in the Old Testament and it is used to indicate that the LORD is speaking something that was to be understood, often prophetically, and usually to be re-transmitted to others. The phrase is mentioned twice in the book of Jonah, once now and once again after Jonah is taught a lesson about God’s sovereignty and His purposeful will in His selected prophets.

Four of the other people who “the word of the Lord” came to are also key figures in other ways – Abraham, Samuel, David, and Solomon. Abraham is the father of the Hebrew nation. Samuel was the last Judge of Israel, and David and Solomon were both kings. Other than these four, the rest of them were common people called to be prophets, or those who were designated prophets from birth.

The “word of the Lord” coming to someone is an indication of the prophetic office. He has received either a revelation, an audible word, or an internal impulse which signifies the will of the Lord. As the Lord has come to him directly, it implies that he would then take the word of the Lord and act upon it.

1 (con’t) to Jonah

el yonah – “unto Jonah.” Here, while still in this first verse, it says that “the word of the Lord came to Jonah.” From 2 Kings, we already know that he is a prophet, but if we didn’t know this, it is now made perfectly clear.

In order to understand the underlying thoughts which are being conveyed in the book, Jonah’s name needs a rather lengthy study. The name Jonah is agreed by all onomastic scholars to mean “Dove,” a symbol of peace. However, there is actually more to the name than simply “Dove.” To a Hebrew hearing the name and contemplating it, there would be the semblance of a pun to the name. It would mean “Dove,” but also a “Vexer.”

The root of the name Yonah is the word yanah. It is a word in the Bible which generally signifies doing wrong to someone. In Leviticus 19:33 we read this –

“And if a stranger dwells with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him.”

This then stands in opposition to the phrase “Love him as you love yourself” of the next verse of Leviticus. As you can see, the root is needed to understand Jonah’s actions as they unfold in the story. But there is still more. A word closely associated to yonah is yayin, or wine.

Without going into all of the amazing details of grapes to vineyards to wine, it will be enough to say that vineyards represent the cultural side of humanity. There are various vineyards which are various cultures. Vineyards produce grapes, or cultural expressions, and these are mixed together through a mashing process to produce wine.

In the Bible, wine then symbolizes the merging together of these expressions into a result. The thing that ought to happen can happen, symbolized by wine. It is as if an act of reasoning is occurring, and an intended result is realized. Solomon uses wine in Proverbs 9 as a result of the workings of Wisdom. It is as if we are “seeing wisdom as wine drawn from the grapes of observations and deductions” (Abarim). Wine then represents our reasoning and that which will change our mind. A perfect example of this is found in Jesus’ words of Matthew 9 –

“Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” Matthew 9:17

Jesus was speaking of the law and grace. The new wine is the new dispensation of grace to come. The old wine was the dispensation of the law. If one were to introduce the new concept into the old, it would not work because the two were incompatible. Only if one put the new wine in the new wineskin and received the new wine would the mind be changed.

Likewise, in His first miracle, Jesus changed water into wine. But he did it with water in jars used for purification. This was what was used to wash the feet. It wasn’t intended to be drunk. But in one stroke, He changed the water to wine, and the function of the jar and the applicability of its contents.

So what does all this have to do with the name Jonah? Well, the connection between the flight of the dove, and the effects of wine as taken from a biblical perspective, shows us. The dove flies erratically, but it flies with purpose and with an intended location.

So Jonah’s coming trip will vacillate, but the final location will be realized. The minds of the people will be changed, and the redemptive process of God will be revealed. Jonah is being equated with what his name means, “Dove.” But the root of his name, and the variations of it, are being drawn together by God to tell us a story.

In the ultimate example of these things, we read of vineyards, grapes, and wine directly in relation to Jesus and His words. He equates His people to a vineyard, and then He speaks of the vinedressers of that vineyard. He speaks of Himself as the true vine, and He speaks of the fruit of the vine.

As far as the dove, the greatest of the many uses of the dove in Scripture is found in the Holy Spirit descending upon Him as a Dove.

“The functions of the Holy Spirit are legion of course but possibly He chose the appearance of a dove to indicate that God brings people together by their weaknesses and not by their strengths, and the fabric of Truth is uncertainty, contrary to deterministic certainty. The mind of Christ is not about knowing all things down to the minutest facts, but being alive in a whole new way. Being able to waver is a quality of life; lifeless objects travel by straight, predictable lines.” Abarim

In the end, and taking all of the uses of the dove in Scripture together, its symbolism can be summed up with the words, “mourning love.” When the Holy Spirit descended upon Christ, it was certainly with the thought of mourning in mind. He was about to begin His earthly ministry, one which would be fraught with sadness, pain, punishment, and death.

Jonah’s mission will prefigure Him in this as the love of God, which mourns for the people of the world – the work of His hands, and the objects of His love – goes to a foreign land in order to bring them back to Himself.

Jonah himself will stubbornly fill this role in contrast to Christ who will willingly take on this same role some 700-800 years later. Yes, these things are all being pictured, believe it or not, in the simple name of Jonah, and how he conducts his affairs in the book which bears his name.

1 (con’t) the son of Amittai, saying,

ben amittay lemor – “son Amittai saying.” The name Amittai is a derivative of the word emeth, or truth, and so it means either “True,” “My Truth,” or “Truth of the Lord.” The final letter, yod, most likely is given to indicate “Truth of the Lord.” He is mentioned only twice in the Bible, and both times are in conjunction with his son Jonah.

As we have already seen, Jonah is from Gath Hepher. Although that is not recorded in the story, but only in 2 Kings 14, it is still significant enough to note again with its meaning. Gath means a winepress. The word khepher comes from a word which means “to dig,” but it is also connected to a word meaning “shame.”

And so Gath-ha’khepher literally means “Winepress of the Pit” or “Winepress of Shame.” Both meanings meet in intent. A pit is that which is dug out, and shame is something which when it is uncovered exposes that which is shameful.

And so a picture is formed. The Lord is using Jonah, picturing “mourning love” who is from the Winepress of Shame to effect a change in the minds of a Gentile nation, which in turn is intended to bring the same change about in His own people Israel.

If we were to look for a single passage from the Bible which this story will then picture, it is to be found in the book of Romans –

“‘“But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” 17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
18 But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed:
“Their sound has gone out to all the earth,
And their words to the ends of the world.”
19 But I say, did Israel not know? First Moses says:
“I will provoke you to jealousy by those who are not a nation,
I will move you to anger by a foolish nation.”
20 But Isaiah is very bold and says:
“I was found by those who did not seek Me;
I was made manifest to those who did not ask for Me.”
21 But to Israel he says:
“All day long I have stretched out My hands
To a disobedient and contrary people.”’” Romans 10:17-21

Without understanding why names are given, and what those names mean, we miss so very much of what the Lord is telling us!

“Arise, go to Nineveh,

qum lek el nineveh – “Arise, go to Nineveh. Nineveh, as a city, goes all the way back to the Table of Nations in Genesis 10. It was founded by Nimrod, a descendant of Noah’s youngest son Ham. It was located on the east bank of the Tigris River. In and shortly after the time of Jonah, it was at its zenith in power and glory.

The name Nineveh may be a word of foreign origin, but if connected to Hebrew its meaning is “Offspring’s Habitation.” As the Bible is written from a Hebrew perspective, the Hebrew name is what we are to consider.

Without getting too far ahead, they are a group of people who are being called to repentance by the Lord. Thus, they are to be considered His offspring, even in this habitation which is removed from Israel. And so we can go to the New Testament to find a parallel to Jonah’s mission and to that of Paul. In Acts 17, Paul went on a mission to Athens, another great Gentile city, just as was Nineveh. There we read the following –

“And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ 29 Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. 30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” Acts 17:26-31

Like Jonah, another person got a similar call to “Arise” in the New Testament. A young girl, only 12 years old, was sick and had died. She was the daughter of Jairus the ruler of a synagogue. Jesus was called to heal her but as He was on His way, they told Him she had died. We read about it in Mark 5 –

“While He was still speaking, some came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, He said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not be afraid; only believe.” Mark 5:35, 36

When he entered her room with the family, Peter, and John, He took her by the hand and made His tender call –

“Then He took the child by the hand, and said to her, ‘Talitha, cumi,’ which is translated, ‘Little girl, I say to you, arise.’” Mark 5:41

A dead girl responded to the same call of the Lord – qum – that was given to Jonah, but as we’ll see, Jonah wasn’t so ready to respond to His word. The power of the word of the Lord stands though and Jonah would eventually respond.

In the book of John, we read another account about the power of the word of the Jesus. In chapter 11, we learn about one of the signs which validated Him as the Messiah, calling the dead to life. However, unlike the prophets Elijah and Elisha who did the same thing in the name of the LORD, Jesus did these things under His own authority.

“He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.” John 11:43-44

Jesus called to life that which was dead. Jonah was directed to do the same thing. He was to call the spiritually dead to life, and to bring them from that pit of darkness to the light of the Lord.

2 (con’t) that great city,

ha’ir ha’gedolah – “the city, the whopping.” The greatness of Nineveh is highlighted twice more in the book of Jonah. Its large size is also mentioned. It was both large and a powerful city. It is so termed “the great city” in order to show Jonah the importance of the mission that he was being called to fulfill.

It was a city of great prominence in the known world, being the capital of the Assyrian empire. As I said earlier, this great force would eventually come against the northern ten tribes of Israel and force them into exile. It would also make a challenge against the southern tribes in Judah in the future as well.

2 (con’t) and cry out against it;

u-qera aleha – “and cry against it.” The term qara, or “cry” is a rather common word in Scripture which is intended to imply a proclamation by either a prophet or a herald. In English, this same terminology lingers on in the idea of a public crier, a form of communication which, although almost extinct, is still well known to us today.

Jonah is not told to just cry out concerning Nineveh as other prophets were known to do. He could have stayed in Israel and cried out concerning Nineveh like Nahum. He is also not told to cry out to Nineveh, as if he could make his proclamation from the top of a mountain outside of the city. Rather, he is told to cry out al, or against, the city. It is a cry of determination directed at them personally, and one which exposes their very secrets.

What will happen to Nineveh because of Jonah’s ministry will be used as an example by Jesus as a means of rebuking Israel. Likewise, Jonah’s mission was to do the same for Israel of his time. This modus operandi was explained to them at their very beginning, and yet they failed to heed –

“They have provoked Me to jealousy by what is not God;
They have moved Me to anger by their foolish idols.
But I will provoke them to jealousy by those who are not a nation;
I will move them to anger by a foolish nation.” Deuteronomy 32:31

The specific message he is to cry was relayed to him, but we won’t actually be told what it is until verse 3:4. However, the reason for it is now revealed…

2 (con’t) for their wickedness has come up before Me.”

ki aletha raatam lephanay – “…for has arisen their wickedness to My face.” Here wickedness is personified. It is as a living force which rises from earth to heaven where it stands before the Lord, the Supreme Judge. There he stands and bears witness against himself, and of those he has seduced to follow after him.

The idea of wickedness arising to the Lord is seen time and again in Scripture. In Genesis 4, the voice of Abel’s blood was said to rise out of the ground, calling to the Lord. In Genesis 18, the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah came to the Lord because their sin was very grave.

This then isn’t the standard sin which infects the whole human race. Instead, it is a working of evil against others in a vile and unrepentant way. In Nahum 3, these words are recorded against Nineveh some years later –

“Your injury has no healing,
Your wound is severe.
All who hear news of you
Will clap their hands over you,
For upon whom has not your wickedness passed continually?” Nahum 3:19

Jonah has been called to inform them that their wickedness is at an end. It will either be in personal restraint or in divine judgment, but one way or another, it was at an end. Justice could no longer be deferred. But, there is more than a call to Nineveh being made.

I said earlier that Jonah’s call is unique in that it is directed to Gentiles and Israel is never mentioned, but this is only explicitly so. Israel would be taught a lesson through Jonah which would point right back to themselves.

They trusted in their lineage and their heritage and ignored the very warnings directed to them in their own writings which established them and bound them to the Lord. They were living in a land of self-delusion, and the call to Nineveh to repent was also a call to them. Nineveh did not have the oracles of God, and yet a call was made to them. Israel did, and the call was long and vocal for their own turning –

“And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. 48 But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.” Luke 12:47-48

This book is seen as a complete contrast to Israel who was given much, and who failed to heed the words of countless prophets, to that of Nineveh who had little and yet responded quickly and willingly. Why was Jonah selected for this call? The answer begins to be seen in the book of Hosea –

“Ephraim also is like a silly dove, without sense—
They call to Egypt,
They go to Assyria.
12 Wherever they go, I will spread My net on them;
I will bring them down like birds of the air;
I will chastise them
According to what their congregation has heard.” Hosea 7:11

There in Hosea, Ephraim is shown to be like a silly yonah, a silly dove; one without sense. Jonah was selected because he and his mission are being used as an indictment against the very people who received and maintained the Lord’s prophetic utterances.

But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish

va’yaqam yonah livroakh tarshishah – “and rose up Jonah to flee to Tarshish.” The Lord told Jonah to arise, and arise he did – quickly and with determination. But it was not in obedience to the Lord, it was to renounce his position and his commission. Instead of Nineveh, he chose Tarshish.

The meaning of the name Tarshish is debated, but to a Hebrew audience, it might have appeared to indicate two words which together mean “white dove,” or “dove white.” If this is so, it is more than coincidence that a lesser used word for dove, a turtledove, is found in the story about a fleeing dove. It is as if he were flitting about to find a place to flee to and his eyes alighted on a place which bears the traits of who he is.

Tarshish also goes all the way back to the Table of Nations in Genesis 10. Tarshish is listed as a son of Javan, who is a son of Japheth the eldest of Noah. There it says of him and his brothers –

“From these the coastland peoples of the Gentiles were separated into their lands, everyone according to his language, according to their families, into their nations.” Genesis 10:5

And so, in this story, all three sons of Noah are involved: Shem/Israel; Ham/Nineveh; and Tarshish/Japheth. And this is in the order as listed in Scripture.

The location of Tarshish is generally thought to be where Spain or Cyprus is today, although that is widely debated. It was a trading city well known in Scripture. Jonah wasn’t willing to go to Nineveh to cry out to them about their wickedness, but he was willing to go to another Gentile land in order to keep from doing what he was called to do.

There is a moral lesson for us here. Jonah was directed to go to a location north and east of Israel. It is where the lands of his past were located, and of which his forefathers had departed from in order to go to Canaan. Rather than go there, he goes in the opposite direction, heading to the land north and west of Israel.

With sin and rebellion, there is no middle ground. If one is disobedient to the Lord, they are as far removed from Him as they would have been near Him in obedience. One is either in His favor and near to His throne, or they are out of His favor and nearer to hell. Like the rich man who went sorrowfully away from the Lord, and like the disciples that turned and no longer walked with Him, Jonah also turned from Him in rebellion. The actual reason for his flight is given by himself in chapter 4 –

“Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm.” Jonah 4:2

He knew that the turning of the Gentiles would lead them from enmity with the Lord to a position of favor with Him. He determined that he would not be a part of that, knowing that their favor would infringe upon the privileges which Israel had above them. He thought it would mean that they were no longer the elect,  chosen nation of God. Is anyone seeing foreshadowing’s of the church and Israel here? It is exactly what we should be seeing.

In what is an ironic twist, he was willing to cut himself off from the Lord in order to not allow someone else to participate in the Lord’s favor. And this is exactly how history repeated itself in the Jews of Jesus’ time. They were so unwilling to accept that Gentiles could share in His grace, that they willingly cut themselves off from His favor.

And this same pattern continues to this day with many Jews and Judaizing sects of Christianity. They willingly cut themselves off from the Lord’s favor by inserting the law where the law does not belong. It is the main theme of the book of Galatians, and the poison that Paul warns against there still permeates the lives of countless souls who would rather be cast into hell than simply accept that the grace of God has gone forth to the undeserving.

One theme of the book of Acts is that of getting the Jews to realize that Gentiles were to be considered just as much the people of the Lord as are the Jews. Many rejected this; many continue to do so.

3 (con’t) from the presence of the Lord.

mi-liphne Yehovah – “from toward face Yehovah.” There are at least three main interpretations for these words. The first is an actual belief that one can hide from the presence of the Lord. It is what Adam and Eve did in the Garden. Such a belief would be wholly inconsistent with the general Hebrew view of the Lord, and contrary to the writings of the psalms and other historical authors. As today’s text verse said –

“Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?” Psalm 139:7

The question is rhetorical and the psalm goes on to show that there is no such place. The author of Chronicles speaks along the same lines as well in 2 Chronicles 16:9 –

“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.”

The second view is that to flee the face of the Lord is to renounce his calling as a prophet. The Levites were said to “stand before the Lord” as ministers to Him. And so if they rejected this duty, they would no longer stand before Him.

The third view is that of leaving the Land of Promise where the Lord dwelt. His special presence was there, and so to leave the land would mean fleeing from His presence.

The first seems wrong on the surface. With all of the history of who the Lord was to them, and with all of the oracles speaking against this notion, it appears that Jonah would know he could never flee from His face.

The second seems wrong as well. If he could not flee from the Lord, then he could not flee from his commission by the Lord. And the third seems obviously wrong as well. If he was instructed to go to the far land of Nineveh to cry out against it, then how could he expect to flee to another far land, which was maybe just a bit farther, in order to hide from his calling?

The fact is that he probably wasn’t thinking rationally at all. The sin of rebellion had clouded his mind so that he thought that any and all three of the options were available to him and possible. When we sin, we push the word of God out of our mind, we sear our conscience to the obvious, and we deny that which is evident before our eyes.

We see this everyday among cosmologists, evolutionists, biologists, archaeologists, and even among Christians scholars, ministers, and lay people who strive against the literal reading of the Bible, which is God’s word handed to us for our knowledge, wisdom, guidance, and acceptance. Jonah is simply us in narrative form to laugh at and wonder over as we pursue the same flight to Tarshish that he took. Apparently for Jonah, as we will find out, no place is far enough – either in distance, or in irrational thought, to thwart the will of the Lord.

3 (con’t) He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish;

va’yered yapho va’yimtsa aniyah baah tarshish – “And went down to Joppa and found ship going to Tarshish.” The word “went down” is yarad. It means “to go down” or “descend.” In this case it is from the place of his calling to the place of his disobedient flee. He had descended from a place of favor, to a place out of favor. In this case and for him, it is Joppa.

Joppa, or Yapho, means Beauty, or Beautiful. Today in English it is known as Jaffa. It is the nearest port to Jerusalem on the Mediterranean Sea. It is right next to Tel Aviv, and it is mentioned four times in the Old Testament and 10 times in the New – all in Acts. Interestingly, the accounts in Acts revolve around Peter, who is also known as Simon bar-Jonah, or Simon, Son of Jonah. This is not by chance. He, the apostle to the Jews, is used like Jonah to call the people of Israel to a right understanding of the Lord.

3 (con’t) so he paid the fare,

va’yitten sekarah– “So paid fare.” These words help us understand that there was common sea-traffic between the two locations which included accepting passengers. As there was a fare, it implies that there was a set arrangement for people to make such a journey. The details come in an ordinary manner, as if it was just another passenger paying just another fare to make just another journey.

3 (con’t) and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish

va’yered bah lavow immahem tarshishah – “…and went down in to go with them Tarshish.” From his low spot of Joppa, the Bible now repeats the word va’yered. He went down and he goes down further still. He is the addict who has first run himself out of a job, and now he has run himself out of a home. He is the adulteress who first lost her husband, and found that she next lost her lover.

Jonah went down, into the hold of the ship, in order to flee further from the presence of the Lord. If he could just hide under the bales of fig leaves leaving Israel and heading to Tarshish, the Lord would never find him. It was safe and secure down… down below where the Lord never could find him, far away…

*3 (fin) from the presence of the Lord.

milliphne Yehovah – “…from toward face Yehovah.” The same phrase is repeated again from this same verse. And so the verse forms a chiasm which reveals to us the true cost of rebellion. It also reveals to us that it is a cost that we willingly pay.

When we rebel against the Lord, departing from His word, it is a trek downward for us. And with each place we move to in hopes of finding security from His frowning countenance, we pay another wage in our already long expense account. Israel has paid their wages for years seemingly without end.

And they are still paying them. They will next pay the wages of a return to temple worship, of which they will derive a payment in kind which is entering into the tribulation period and being blown about by the horrifying chaos of the stirred-up seas of humanity.

Their blind and senseless unbelief in the Redeemer of the world and His righteous judgment will swallow them up like the great fish that lies ahead of Jonah. And with them, the whole world will likewise be swallowed up.

However, God will intervene, just as He did for Jonah, and He will restore life to His disobedient child. Jonah will have to go through much trouble before he acknowledges his Lord’s sovereignty, and Israel will suffer likewise.

For Jonah of Israel, and for each of you here today, I will leave you with the thoughts of John Darby concerning our responsibilities to God and towards others concerning the grace which has been bestowed upon us –

“If those to whom God in His grace has committed a testimony, do not employ this testimony in behalf of others according to the grace that bestowed it, they will soon become unfaithful in their own walk before God. If they truly acknowledged God, they would feel bound to make known His name, to impart this blessing to others. If they do not own His glory and His grace, they will assuredly be unable to maintain their own walk before Him.” John Darby

If you are here, as yet unsaved by the Lord Jesus, or if you are saved and yet running from the Lord, the Bible tells us there is no place where we can hide from Him. It is our responsibility to honor Him through obedience to Him. For the unsaved, that is by calling on the name of Jesus and being cleansed by His shed blood. For the saved, it is by applying the precious, superior word of God to our walk in Him. Let us make every effort to be obedient to Him and to His call in our lives.

Closing Verse: So I said, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest.
Indeed, I would wander far off,
And remain in the wilderness. Selah” Psalm 55:6, 7

Next Week: Jonah 1:4-7 Wake up and don’t be such a clod… (Arise! Call on Your God) (2nd Jonah Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. Even if a deep ocean rages against you and is ready to swallow you up, He can send delivery to you in the most remarkable of ways. So follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

So He Paid the Fare

Now the word of the LORD came, as I am now relaying
To Jonah the son of Amittai, saying

“Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city
And cry out against it
For their wickedness has come up before Me

But Jonah arose to Tarshish to flee
From the presence of the LORD
He went down to Joppa, yes Joppa by the sea
And found a ship which was to Tarshish heading toward

So he paid the fare
And went down into it, yes, he got on board
To go with them to Tarshish
From the presence of the LORD

Lord God, we are prone to run away from You
When we don’t want to do the things you ask of us
Even though it is always the right thing to do
Give us strength to comply, and to not put up a fuss

Grant that we will not flee from You
But that we would be willing to go when You call to us
And to do what we ought to do
To be obedient to Your will, just as did our Lord Jesus

Help us in this Lord God Almighty, surely this is right
May our hearts be obedient to what You desire of us
Help us to live for You, and be pleasing in Your sight
May we glorify You as we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus

And may the lives we live give to You oodles of praise
Now in this earthly walk, and in heaven’s eternal days

Hallelujah and Amen…