The Genesis To Revelation Bible Course
By WILLIAM M. GROOM, Th.M., D.D.
Lesson No. 30 – Jonah
Copyright, 1921 BY THE BIBLE STUDY PUBLISHING CO.
* KEY VERSE–Jon 3:10.
* KEY PHRASE–“A GREAT CITY SAVED WHEN IT REPENTED.”
Read this lesson and then the whole book of Jonah. It is a remarkable and beautiful book. For family altar read:
* Sunday–Jonah’s Call and Flight from Duty,–Jon 1:1-11.
* Monday–Swallowed by a Great Fish,–Jon 1:12-17.
* Tuesday–Jonah’s Prayer,–Jon 2:1-7.
* Wednesday–Delivered and Recommissioned,–Jon 2:8-3:3.
* Thursday–Nineveh Repents,–Jon 3.
* Friday–Jonah’s Anger,–Jon 4: 1-6.
* Saturday–Lessons of the Gourd,–Jon 4:7-11.
Writer–Jonah was a native of Gathhepher, a village about an hour’s walk north of Nazareth. Jewish legend said he was the son of the widow of Sarepta, whom Elijah had restored to life. But whether this is true or not, he was probably a disciple of Elisha and succeeded him as a great preacher of righteousness. He prophesied the victories of Jeroboam II, king of Israel, against Syria. The next we hear of him he is called to leave his home and go to Nineveh and cry against it.
TIME OF JONAH–He prophesied about 800 B. C. in the reign of Jeroboam II, 2Ki 14:25. Nineveh, to which Jonah was commanded to go, was the capital of Assyria and was a city of great splendor, sixty miles in circumference. The wickedness of the place was in proportion to its greatness. It was another Sodom or Gomorrah. Jonah hated to go to Nineveh because he knew that if it repented and was spared of God, that it would prevail over Israel. As a matter of fact, God did use the Assyrians, whose capital was Nineveh, to chasten Israel by taking it into captivity.
PURPOSE–To show how a city may be saved by the wonderful power of repentance.
Great Fact I. Jonah’s Mission
God calls Jonah to go 500 miles eastward, over mountains, through trackless forests, and across burning deserts to Nineveh. Hating the idea of being a channel of blessing to the inveterate enemies of Israel, he fled 100 miles westward toward Tarshish on the south coast of Spain. right opposite Gibraltar. Jonah was willing to prophesy to Israel but he at first flatly refused to become a foreign missionary.
God sent a great storm upon the vessel upon which Jonah had taken flight, and the ship is placed in great danger. The sailors try all means to save the ship, and at last cast, lots to see who is the cause of the misfortune coming upon them. The lot points to Jonah, and he begs them to cast him into the sea.
Lesson–As God called Jonah, so he is calling men today by a voice so distinct that they cannot misunderstand. Some people say they would gladly do the will of God if they could know what it was. This, however, is often insincerity, for Joh 7:17. says, “If any man is willing to do His will he shall know.” When God called Moses He made the call so plain that Moses had no rest until he responded. Samuel’s call was repeated over and over again until he realized that it was God’s voice and yielded to His claim. God’s call to all of us is to repentance, faith, and obedience. Dr. W. B. Riley tells how a friend of his in Chicago was deaf in one ear, so that when he laid down to sleep, he shut out all sound by burying the good ear in the pillow, and turning the deaf one up. So too often, we turn a deaf ear towards heaven and say that God has not called us. God gives us a holy courage that will scorn all ease and petty excuses!
Great Fact II. Jonah Overboard
The crew of the ship made renewed efforts to get to shore, but when this is seen to be impossible, they take Jonah at his word and cast him into the sea, then the storm immediately abates and the ship sailed on with its awe-struck but thankful crew. Jonah is in fearful danger, but God so ordered events that after he had sunk to the bottom a great fish swallowed him up and preserved him alive for three days and nights until it could cast him out upon the land.
No miracle of scripture has called forth so much unbelief, but in Mt 12:39 our Lord confirms the truth of this account. “God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform.” GOD prepared a missionary for Nineveh, HE prepared a storm, when that missionary was disobedient, Ile prepared a great fish to preserve his life. He prepared a gourd. He appointed a host of caterpillars to strip the gourd. He appointed a scorching, burning wind to beat upon the head of Jonah. The whole account is full of the direct acts of God. Who will say that such acts are impossible to the Almighty Creator, who made heaven and earth and all that in them is?
On the natural history side of the question, the writer has stood up in the skeleton of a whale that was on exhibition. It was 80 feet long and 7 feet high when lying on its side. Frank Bullen tells of whales 70 feet long swimming about with their lower jaws wide open so that a man could easily slip down without the fish hardly knowing it. Trustworthy records say that when a whale is dying it always ejects the contents of its stomach. Masses eight feet by six feet have been vomited up, as has a whole horse, so it is not at all incredible that this should have happened to Jonah. His preservation in the body of the fish was plainly supernatural, as was the preservation of the Hebrew children in the fiery furnace. In 1758 a man was swallowed by a shark. The captain on deck with a gun-shot the fish and caused it to cast out the sailor and he was rescued alive. With God all things are possible. Jonah’s supernatural experience not only looked back to his sin but forward to Christ’s burial and resurrection. Mt 12:39.
Great Fact III. Jonah Delivered
Jonah’s deliverance was in answer to prayer. He prayed out of the body of the fish, and when submission took the place of rebellion, the Most High was willing to deliver the captive, to pardon the sinner to employ again the unfaithful runaway.
LESSON–If you cry to God out of the depths, you will cry yourself out of them. A man who was bowed down by his unbelief in prayer was asked the question, “Do you think a loving God has written in His book today, on the 25th of February, 1898, William T_____, asked Me for the forgiveness of all his sins for My Dear Son’s sake, and I refused him?” “No sir, I cannot believe that.” “What then, has he written beside your prayer?” The man thought deeply for a time and then replied, “It is more likely He has written Granted’ by its side!” From that moment the fetters of his fears were broken and he was set free to trample on his sins and to serve his Saviour.
Great Fact IV. Jonah Preaching
Jonah being called a second time now goes to Nineveh and proclaims the gospel in the streets of the heathen city. They were startled by the warnings that in forty days their city would be overthrown, and put on sackcloth, sat in ashes repented of their sins and cried mighty unto God for mercy. When God saw that they had turned from their evil ways, He graciously held back the threatened wrath and judgment and Nineveh was spared.
1. How good of God to offer a divine commission to deserters. There is no need for any Christian worker to be out of the harness. The word of the Lord comes to you a second time, “Arise and go!”
2. Jonah’s message was not a pleasant one, but he was not responsible for it. A preacher or teacher is like the bearer of a telegram he must convey the message, but not change it. God’s message, plus Jonah’s earnestness produced a miraculous effect. Think of 600,000 on their faces in repentance before God! Surely we ought to pray for such a revival in every city in the land. The God who blessed Jonah’s message and saved a great city in forty days is still our God.
Great Fact V. Jonah’s Anger
Jonah is vexed at the sparing of Nineveh. the expectation of which had led, to his former flight. He, therefore, makes for himself a booth outside the city walls and yet hopes to see the city punished. God prepared a vine, something like the castor-oil plant, to spring up and shade Jonah from the sun, but He also prepared a worm or host of black caterpillars (for the word could be a collective noun), to destroy the gourd and leave Jonah exposed to the scorching sun. When Jonah grieved bitterly for the loss of the gourd, God asked him why he wanted God to have pity on the gourd, but to have no pity for the great city of Nineveh, in which there were thousands of little children, so young that they knew not their right hand from their left. Thus his anger and selfishness were rebuked.
LESSON–Jonah showed a streak of very ordinary human nature, but although we cannot justify him, we cannot help sympathizing with him. Most people have their weak moments, but should have fewer of them. A bad-tempered person ought to be compelled to give warning to all comers, like the lepers of old. Avoid them. Beware of it ourselves. Cultivate the graciousness and patience that so adorned the life of Christ, that the beauty of the Lord our God was upon Him.
Questions on the Lesson
1. Give the keyword and key verse.
2. Who was Jonah and where did he live?
3. In whose reign did he preach?
4. Tell what you know about Nineveh.
5. What the purpose of the book?
6. Name the great facts.
7. Have you read the book of Jonah?
8. Tell the story of Jonah’s mission and flight.
9. In what way does God call men today?
10. How was Jonah preserved from drowning?
11. Tell of the direct acts of God.
12. Give the natural history side of the question.
13. Was Jonah the only man ever rescued from a great fish?
14. What did Jonah’s experience look backward and forward to?
15. What brought about deliverance?
16. May we expect God to grant our petitions?
17. Tell of Jonah’s second chance.
18. May a message-bearer change the message?
19. What was the result of Jonah’s preaching?
20. Why was Jonah angry?
21. What did God rebuke?
22. What ought we to cultivate?
He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. — Proverbs 28:13 KJV