Jonah

J. B. Hewitt, Chesterfield

Part 6 of 14 of the series Outline Studies in the Minor Prophets

Category: Young Believer's Section

Jonah was a real person, an historical character who prophesied during the reign of Jeroboam II; read 2 Kings 14. 23-27. His name means “dove” and his father’s name Amittai means “the truth of the Lord”. This dove-like man was the bearer of divine truth in a dark, degenerate age. He lived in Gath-hepher, in the tribe of Zebulun, near to Cana of Galilee. His sphere therefore was the Northern Kingdom., and he was a Galilean, John 7. 52.

Historicity

This book has been widely attacked by a host of sceptics and “higher critics”, no doubt inspired by Satan. The book is a record of actual facts, not an allegorical fiction or a parable intended to impart religious instruction. Unbelief always stumbles at that which displays the supernatural and demonstrates the miraculous. The account is given in a straightforward way, in plain language and without any fanciful and ambiguous words. That this book is a strictly historical narrative is manifestly evident from the manner in which the existence and ministry of this prophet, together with the main facts of his history, are referred to by our Lord (see Matt. 12. 37-41; Luke n. 29-30). The Lord called the experience of Jonah a “sign” of His own resurrection. To deny this history casts doubt upon the knowledge and truthfulness of our blessed Lord, the “faithful and true witness”, Rev. 1. 5. This book is placed among the sacred writings under the direction of the Spirit of God.

Difficulty

When the book was written is uncertain, but Jonah exercised his prophetical office either before or very early in the reign of Jereboam II. He would thus be a contemporary of Hosea and Amos, perhaps ministering earlier than they did and therefore one of the most ancient of the prophets whose writings we possess. His book is historical rather than predictive.

Ministry

This book being primarily historical, the history of a prophet, it is also biographical - the story of a prophet. The book gives only a very small part of his ministry, and is a continuation of what he had done previously, “Now the word of the Lord came”, 1. 1. The book is a simple narrative with the exception of chapter 2, which is both prayer and thanksgiving. His style is simple, vivid, graphic, and exceedingly frank in its personal disclosures. It is a plain, simple record of fact, and looks forward to the preaching of repentance to the Gentiles, and to their ingathering with believing Israel in the family of God. In fact, God turns from apostate, morally sunken Israel, such as we have learned to know it from the descriptions of the prophets. Jonah, the very messenger who had announced coming deliverance to Jeroboam, turns by divine commission to the Gentiles.

Story

Jonah was commanded by God to go to Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian empire, and carry God’s oral message. The city was surrounded by a wall sixty miles in circumference, fifty feet broad, one hundred feet high, fortified by fifteen hundred towers all two hundred feet high. Six hundred thousand people lived within its walls. Jonah had to travel about 500 miles over mountains, through trackless forests and across burning deserts in constant danger from wild men and animals. Why did he want to avoid delivering God’s message, and decide to journey a considerable distance in the opposite direction? He gives the answer in his prayer to God, 4. 2-3. He knew that the preservation of Nineveh meant the eventual conquest and destruction of Israel. No wonder he fled in the opposite direction. Disaster came to him, and to save the ship and crew, at his own suggestion, he was thrown into the sea. Miraculously preserved, he was later re-commissioned and carried out his instructions to the letter and thus glorified God. Have we not followed this man in many ways? Many are willing to carry out the Lord’s commission in missionary service, but smug complacency and an exclusive spirit rejoice in divine blessing but share nothing of its fulness. Study the book thus:

  • Jonah in declension. His portion in the storm, ch. 1.
  • Jonah in distress. His prayer in the fish, ch. 2.
  • Jonah in devotion. His preaching in the city, ch. 3.
  • Jonah in displeasure. His pleading with the Lord, ch. 4.

Suggested Analysis

  1. THE TRUANT AND TROUBLED PROPHET, ch. 1.
    • The commission he received, 1-2; The course he pursued, 3-4; The confusion he caused, 5-8; The confession he made, 9-10; The calm he prophesied, 12-14; The conversion of seamen, 15-17.
  2. THE TRUSTING AND TESTIFYING PROPHET, ch. 2.
    His prayer:
    • Its occasion, danger and distress, 1. 17-2. 3.
    • Its object, forgiveness and freedom, 2. 4-8;
    • Its outcome, salvation and song, 2. 9-10.
  3. THE SERVING AND SUCCESSFUL PROPHET, ch. 3.
    • His renewed command, 1-2; His ready compliance, 3-4; The repentant city, 5-9; The riches of grace, 10.
  4. THE SELFISH AND SULKING PROPHET, ch. 4.
    • His displeasure, 1, and discontent, 2-3; His discourtesy, 4, and despondency, 5-6; His discipline, 7, and dissatisfaction, 8-9; The divine appeal and attitude, 10-11.

Suggestions for Study

  1. Evangelically.
    • Chapter 1 as a picture of a sinner running away from God. Sin its character, course, calamity, confusion and consequences.
    • Chapter 2 the sinner’s cry, condition, concern, confession and complete deliverance.
    • Chapters 3 and 4, the preacher’s appointment, announcement, ambition and amazement. Then he becomes petulant, full of self, gloomy, angry, disciplined and silenced.
  2. Typically.
    • Jonah a type of Israel.
      1. His commission and theirs, Jonah 1. 1-2; Ps. 147. 19-20; Isa. 43. 10-12; Rom. 3. 1-2; 11. 29.
      2. His disobedience and theirs, Jonah 1. 3; Ps. 78. 5-12; Rom. 2. 24.
      3. Cast into the sea, Jonah 1; cf. Israel scattered among the nations, Deut. 4. 25-27; Ezek. 23. 16-20.
      4. Miraculously preserved, Jonah 1. 17; Jer. 30. 10-18; 46. 28; Rom. 11. 2, 5.
      5. Distress of soul and restoration, Jonah 2; Zech. 12. 10; Isa. 66. 20; Ezek. 37. 12; Jer. 50. 19-20; Rom. 11. 26.
      6. Preaching, Jonah 3; Zech. 8. 7-23; Ps. 98. 1-3.
    • Jonah a type of Christ. Note both the comparisons and the contrasts; e.g., the prophet, his witness, his service, death and resurrection.
  3. Practically. Consider the servant of God; his revelation from God, responsibility in service, running away, chastening, repentance, being recommissioned, restored, then perplexed and fainting.

There are 11 articles in
ISSUE (1967, Volume 18 Issue 2)

Dominating or Dominated - Part 2

Epaphras

Heroes in History - Joseph (Continued)

In a Christian Assembly - What shall I give?

Jonah

The Millennium

Psalm 14

Reports Section - Gospel Work and other Assembly Activities

In the Shadow of God

The Pattern

Why Versions Differ

There are 14 articles in this series

Outline Studies in the Minor Prophets - Introduction

Hosea

Joel

Amos

Obadiah

Jonah

Micah

Nahum

Habakkuk

Zephaniah

Haggai

Zechariah

Malachi

Glimpses of Christ

There are 59 articles by this author

Why I Believe the Bible

Glimpses of Christ

Outline Studies in Hebrews, Introduction

Outline Studies in Hebrews, Chapter 4 - 5

Outline Studies in Hebrews, Chapter 6-7

Outline Studies in Hebrews, Chapter 8 - 9

Outline Studies in Hebrews, Chapter 10

Outline Studies in the Pentateuch - Introduction

Genesis - Part 1

Genesis - Part 2

Suggested Analysis of Genesis

Exodus

Exodus: Its Message for Today

Leviticus

Numbers

Deuteronomy

Glimpses of Christ

Outline Studies in the Penteteuch

The Authority of Scripture in This Modern Age

Truth for the Times - Introduction

Controlled by Divine Truth, 2 Peter 3

The Peril of Apostasy, Jude 4-19

The Antidote to Apostasy, Jude 1-3; 17-23

Christ in the Prison Epistles - Introduction

Ephesians - Christ our Leader and our Lord

Philippians - Christ our Life

Colossians - Christ our Head

Philemon - Christ our Example

Help from Haggai - Introduction

Help from Haggai, Verses 2. 10-23

The Eight Men of James Chapter One

Meditation-a Lost Art

The Cross in Galatians

The Industrious Servant of Jehovah

Abraham - Friend of God

Living by Faith, Habakkuk

Help from Haggai, Verses 1. 1-11

Help from Haggai, Verses 1. 12-15; 2. 1-9

The Son of Consolation

The Lion-Hearted Amount the Lions - Daniel 6

Obadiah

Jonah

Micah

Nahum

Habakkuk

Zephaniah

1 Thessalonians - Some Suggestions for Study

Outline Studies in the Minor Prophets - Introduction

Hosea

Joel

Amos

Haggai

Zechariah

Malachi

Outline Studies in Hebrews, Chapter 1

Outline Studies in Hebrews, Chapter 2-3

Outline Studies in Hebrews, Chapter 11

Outline Studies in Hebrews, Chapter 12

Outline Studies in Hebrews, Chapter 13