It was approximately from 785 to 760 BC when the book of Jonah was written. Of course the author was Jonah himself, son of Amittai. The purpose of this book can be to show the extend of God's love, His grace, the message of salvation for all people. The setting is around the king Jeroboam II. And during his time Assyria was most deadly enemy. And Israel was conquered by them in 722 BC and Jonah preaches to Nineveh, in 785 Bc and his ministry ends in 753.
The world seems to be filled with over flowing violence hatred and corruption. Reading, hearing or perhaps even experiencing this tragedy will help us to understand the necessity of God. We may even have vengeance to people who are violent. And some time's violent people are beyond redemption. If we are told to take the gospel to the worst offenders how would we respond? And that's the task given by God to Jonah, Assyria a great evil empire one of the most deadly enemy of Israel. So when God told him to go and preach to the city of wickedness he could not handle, he in fact ran the opposite direction. God stopped him and he came back, obeyed and preached the word. People repented and God's judgement stopped.
1 The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai:
2 "Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me."
3 But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD.
4 Then the LORD sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up.
5 All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship. But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep.
6 The captain went to him and said, "How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us, and we will not perish."
7 Then the sailors said to each other, "Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity." They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah.
8 So they asked him, "Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?"
9 He answered, "I am a Hebrew and I worship the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land."
10 This terrified them and they asked, "What have you done?" (They knew he was running away from the LORD, because he had already told them so.)
11 The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, "What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?"
12 "Pick me up and throw me into the sea," he replied, "and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you."
13 Instead, the men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before.
14 Then they cried to the LORD, "O LORD, please do not let us die for taking this man's life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, O LORD, have done as you pleased."
15 Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm.
16 At this the men greatly feared the LORD, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows to him.
17 But the LORD provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights.
Niniveh was an important city in Assyria, capital city soon in 50 years. The prophet Nahum talks little bit more about the details of the sin of Nineveh.
Whatever they plot against the LORD he will bring to an end; trouble will not come a second time.
Plotting evil against God.
The lion killed enough for his cubs and strangled the prey for his mate, filling his lairs with the kill and his dens with the prey.
Exploiting the helpless, they were cruel in war.
all because of the wanton lust of a harlot, alluring, the mistress of sorceries, who enslaved nations by her prostitution and peoples by her witchcraft.
Involved in adultery, witchcraft and many other things.
And so God told Jonah to go to Nineveh, he was focused on running away from God. He is in the ship and God sends a big storm and then a violent storm that the ship would break up. All the sailors were shaking and they were afraid suddenly they cried out to their own gods but Jonah was deep down under taking a nice nap.
Can we relate to that when things are all going bad, he was having a nice sleep? The captain of the ship came down and said "Listen Jonah, how can you sleep? Call upon your God." Sometimes God will rock and shake our boat, if we don't wake up then He will bring rain and storm and all those things to wake you up but still he couldn't see it. God sends the message, then the wind, then the storm, then the captain, how can we still sleep? Do we know that God works the same way in our life. When we start slowly go in the opposite direction, suddenly things started rocking and shaking. What kind of storm are we in today. Is our boat rocking because of finances, is our family splitting, is it because there is no job?
1. Look again to God's holy temple
1 From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God.
2 He said: "In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry.
3 You hurled me into the deep, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me.
4 I said, 'I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.'
5 The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head.
6 To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you brought my life up from the pit, O LORD my God.
Later we see that Jonah accepted his fault I am the one, I was wrong, now throw me out. See he was not broken before God, so God had another plan to break him. So God designed a big fish and God was in control of the fish. God will allow some discipline in our life; the discipline is under control. This fish decided not to eat this man, this is the only food the fish decided to gulp it down, no chewing nothing, God is in control. He stayed inside for 3 days and 3 nights.
Imagine the seen inside the fish. There was no power there was pitch dark, darkness driven away, there were all kinds of junk seafood and water, there was no bed to lie down, we are not sure whether he was standing in the fish or sitting. He went through discipline. God was still working even though he was inside the fish for 3 days. In his distress he called upon God, he prayed and he decided to go back to the Lord. Even though there was lot of things around him he decided to focus on the Lord.
After three days God commanded the fish to vomit him out. This whale vomited every thing out. Jonah with all kinds of smell and mess on him he fell into the land. But when he repented God picked him up and dropped him back in Nineveh. Jonah its time to get back to the business Jonah, that was special treatment from the Lord.
2. Get the right attitude
1 But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry.
2 He prayed to the LORD, "O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.
3 Now, O LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live."
4 But the LORD replied, "Have you any right to be angry?"
5 Jonah went out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city.
6 Then the LORD God provided a vine and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the vine.
7 But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the vine so that it withered.
8 When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah's head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, "It would be better for me to die than to live."
9 But God said to Jonah, "Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?" "I do," he said. "I am angry enough to die."
10 But the LORD said, "You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight.
11 But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?"
Later we see Jonah fulfills Gods mission he went and preached the word, Ninevites believed in God. Chapter 3 says they declared a fast, they put on sackcloth and really worshipped the Lord, and there was repentance in that city. Great things were happening and God was pleased and He stopped the judgement, which He kept for them before. When we change and our attitude changes, God works powerfully.
We see in chapter: 4 after all great things happened Jonah got upset with the Lord, because the city was not destroyed. Jonah got upset, he got concerned about the wrong things in life. He got concerned about the sun and the shade, all these things started distracting him. Some times small things can take away our joy, small thing can get us. God said listen don't be like this ... don't think about yourself think about the people.
True happiness is when we are concerned about people, when we think about them. That's Gods heart, He is concern about every one in the world. He wants us to show the love and concern to other people. That brings happiness to our hearts.
God saved the sailors when they pleaded for mercy, God saved Jonah when he prayed out of the fish, God saved the people on Nineveh when they responded to Jonah's preaching. God will answer the prayers of any one who call on Him. God will always work, He will send the wind, the storm, the fish, the people.
He leads us by any thing to wake us up. We can be saved when we hear Gods word. If we respond in obedience Gods mercy will be shown on us and we will not be punished. Lets do what ever He asked us to do and go wherever He leads us. Let us bring glory to God.