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To save Jonah from drowning, God sent a huge fish to swallow him.


Most people are familiar with the story of Jonah and the Whale.

The Book of Jonah is the fifth of the Minor Prophetic Books and the thirty-second book in the Bible. It was written by the prophet Jonah, who is also mentioned in II Kings as serving during the time of King Jereboam II of Israel c.786-746 BC.

Jonah is commanded by God to preach to a Gentile (non-Jewish) nation and to show that God's grace is not reserved for the Jews, but is given to every nation on earth.

All quotations from the Bible are taken from the Authorised King James Version.
God commanded Jonah to speak to a foreign nation who lived in which city?
Jonah 1:1-2
"Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me."

Nineveh was the capital city of Israel's enemies, the Assyrians. It was possibly the largest city on earth at the time and was located close to Mosul in modern day Iraq
Jonah was reluctant to go on his assigned mission. Instead he fled to the port of Joppa, where he caught a boat which was heading to where?
Jonah 1:3
"But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord."

The exact location of Tarshish is unknown. Some people think it may have been in modern day Tunisia whilst others suggest Spain, Sardinia or even that it may have been as far from Israel as India!
God sent a storm to threaten Jonah's ship. Whilst the other passengers prayed to their Gods, what did Jonah do?
He wept
He trembled
He slept
He sang
Jonah was blissfully unaware of his danger. He slept whilst others panicked.

Jonah 1:4-5
"But the Lord sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken. Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep"
The sailors wanted to know why they were in trouble. What method did they use to discover who had aroused God's anger?
They cast lots
They prayed for a sign
They questioned everyone
They interpreted their dreams
God was, of course, angered by Jonah's disobedience. The lots identified Jonah as the cause of their trouble.

Jonah 1:7
"And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah"
What did Jonah say that the other passengers must do to save themselves from the storm?
They should turn the ship around
They should sacrifice a lamb
They should throw Jonah overboard
They should pray for God's forgiveness
Jonah wanted to sacrifice himself to save his fellow sailors, but they refused. They fought against the storm but had no joy and so, at last, they did as Jonah said.

Jonah 1:12-15
"And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you. Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not: for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous against them. Wherefore they cried unto the Lord, and said, We beseech thee, O Lord, we beseech thee, let us not perish for this man’s life, and lay not upon us innocent blood: for thou, O Lord, hast done as it pleased thee. So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging"
To save Jonah from drowning, God sent a huge fish to swallow him. For how long was Jonah inside the fish, before it spat him out onto dry land?
For three days and nights
For seven days and nights
For fourteen days and nights
For forty days and nights
Jonah 1:17
"Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights."

Jonah's sacrifice of himself to save others, and his return to safety after three days, is comparable to Jesus' sacrifice of Himself and His return to life three days later
Back on land, Jonah obeyed God's command and headed for Nineveh. When he got there Jonah told the people that if they did not repent, the city would be destroyed in how many days time?
In three days time
In seven days time
In fourteen days time
In forty days time
God's judgement would soon be on them if the people did not change their ways.

Jonah 3:4
"And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown"
The people of Nineveh heeded Jonah's warning and repented of their sins. The king himself took off his royal robes and wore what instead?
All the people of the city, from the highest to the lowest, did likewise and they all fasted to atone for their sins.

Jonah 3:5-6
"So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes"
Seeing Nineveh's repentance, God had mercy on the people and did not destroy them. This made Jonah angry and he prayed that God would do what?
He prayed that God would kill him
He prayed that God would destroy Nineveh
He prayed that God would take him home
He prayed that God would destroy Babylon instead
Jonah is angered that God will spare such a sinful place as Nineveh from judgement - a city which is not even Jewish. In his madness, Jonah asks God to take his life.

Jonah 4:3
"Therefore now, O Lord, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live"
God provided Jonah with a gourd plant to shade him from the sun. Then He made the plant wither. This was to teach Jonah of God's what?
God's power to destroy
God's pity for Nineveh
God's lordship over creation
God's love of Israel
Jonah was sad at the loss of the plant. How much more sad would God be at the loss of a city containing thousands upon thousands of men, women and children?

Jonah 4:10-11
"Then said the Lord, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night: and should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?"


Author:  Graeme Haw

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