Puking Up a Prophet: The Real Story of Jonah

February 2, 2021   /   Ryan Brown   /   Palms Baptist Church Bible Study

What was the assignment?

Israel’s assignment to be light

  • Genesis 12:1-3
  • Exodus 9:16
  • Exodus 19:4-6
  • Isaiah 42:6
  • Isaiah 49:6
  • Isaiah 52:10
  • Isaiah 60:3
  • Acts 13:47

Israel’s Failure to be light

  • Psalm 44:14
  • Ezekiel 22:4
  • Ezekiel 39:7
  • 4X in Book of Jeremiah

Jesus’ fulfillment as THE LIGHT

  • John 8:12
  • Acts 26:23

Church’s assignment to be light

  • Matthew 5:16
  • Luke 8:16
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:5
  • Ephesians 5:14

Two Models in Jonah

  1. Jonah acts as a model to demonstrate Israel’s to be a Light to the Nations
  2. Jonah acts as a model to demonstrate Christ’s as THE Light to the Nations

Jonah 1: of Mission

  • 2 Kings 14:25-27 – Jonah had delivered other messages and Bible records their fulfillment but not their deliverance
    • History places Jonah’s death and burial in Nineveh, so its possible Jonah was a prophet for a while when he decided to rebel
  • Jonah was from northern Galilee (Gath-Hapher)
    • Pharisee’s were wrong when they said that “no prophets have come from Galilee” – John 7:52
  • Nineveh was the Rome of Jonah’s day. It represented not only the Gentile paganism, but was also the oppression of Jewish people
  • Hosea was a contemporary of Jonah (Hosea was older and more senior), and prophesied against Assyria – See Hosea 9), so you can understand Jonah’s confusion
  • Tarshish was considered the end of the world in Jonah’s day. It exists on the far western side of Spain.
    • Exodus 12:38 – Mixed multitude that leaves Egypt with Moses. Tradition holds many went to Tarshish where there is a heavy Jewish and Christian tradition there.
    • Septuagint and Vulgate name Tarshish as Carthage
  • Joppa was three days journey from Gath-Hepher and Nineveh was a 9 day journey
  • Notice that Jonah demonstrates compassion with fellow Gentile passengers. He could have lied and tried his chances, but he showed a heart for their well-being.
    • Jonah’s problem was not with gentiles, but with Nineveh!

Jonah 2: of Rejecting Mission

Salvation from Death or Salvation from the Grave?

  1. Rule of Positives
    1. You follow the logical expectation and assumption unless the negative is explicit
      1. Example: Jesus walking on water
  2. Jonah 2 Text
    1. Jonah 2:1 – “from the belly of the fish”
      1. Prayed from the belly of the fish, but prayer describes the past tense
      2. If metaphor for belly of fish, then why in past tense if prayer represents his current state?
    2. Jonah 2:2 – “belly of sheol”
      1. Sheol in Hebrew was the “Hades” of Greek, and describes the place beyond the grave. To be in Sheol equals to be in the grave
    3. Jonah 2:4 – “driven away” or “departed from” God
      1. By definition, hell is the place of “separation from God,” which Jonah describes in his prayer
    4. Jonah 2:6
      1. “roots of the mountains,”
        1. Describes the place below the mountains, in the earth
      2. “went down to the land,”
        1. Describes being at bottom of “the deep” with seaweed around head, but then describes going further down
      3. “bars closed upon me forever,”
        1. Metaphor for belly of fish? Why does he think the fate in the fish is permanent, but then proceeds to speak of salvation from it?
      4. “life from the pit”
        1. “Brought my life UP from the Pit”
          1. Hebrew word “Shachath” for pit (pit, dungeon, corruption, decay) and Hebrew word “che” meaning body of life
          2. Septuagint uses greek word “diaphthorum”

“because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,  you will not let your holy one see decay” – Acts 2:27

“Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead (Sheol), nor did his body see decay (Shachath).” – Acts 2:31

  1. Jesus uses Jonah as a “sign” for His own death and resurrection
    1. Matthew 12:38-42
      1. “just as” = “hosper” in greek meaning “Exactly As”
  2. Larger Context/Model of Jonah and Jesus
    1. Discuss later
  • No matter your view, Jonah clearly associates the consequence to his rejection as akin to being in Sheol depart from God

Scariest Verse in Bible:

    • 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”- Matthew 7:21-23
  • Many say “did we not do…in your name,” but Jesus says, “that was not the assignment, depart from me”
    • Notice what they don’t say: we loved in your name, we forgave in your name, we fed the hungry in your name…
    • To accomplish God’s assignment requires KNOWING the source of it. That’s why they failed because they did not know!

Jonah 3: Mission without

  • Story of Jonah is NOT about God fighting for Jonah’s obedience or submission, but fighting for Nineveh’s repentance
  • God has always demonstrated a heart for gentiles…since Abraham
  • Notice: He uses the formal name “Yahweh” i.e. “Lord” in chapters 1, 2, and 4, but uses the generic name for God “Elohim” in chapter 3 with his message.
    • Yahweh was the covenant name for God, Elohim was generic. Jonah’s message is one of judgment, but not one of covenant

*Jonah is still off assignment. He delivered the message God told him to give, BUT still did not invite them into covenant with God. It was not a PERSONAL or PASSIONATE Mission for Jonah!

To Know God is to know God’s heart, and from God’s heart we conduct God’s mission

Modern Danger: To be on Mission without God’s passion is impossible because the mission is to communicate God’s passion

Jonah 4: Mission from

  • Two Things that made Jonah Angry
    • character – Jonah knew God was gracious, merciful, patient, abounding in love
      • Jonah tried to close a door only God in His character could close and was angry that God kept it open (Jonah 1)
    • character – Jonah believed Nineveh so evil they would not respond
      • Jonah was surprised when they repented (Jonah 3)
  • Jonah cared more about a plant that he did not tend to or grow because it did something for HIM
    • Jonah’s issue with Nineveh is that Nineveh did nothing for Jonah except bring pain
  • God says, if you pity a plant that did something for you, why should I not pity a nation that can do something for me?

Model for Christ’s Fulfillment

  1. Prophet from Galilee
  2. Acceptance of Mission
    1. Jonah: Rejected mission to be light
    2. Christ: Was the light

Message: Our mission can only be accomplished in KNOWING The Light

  1. The Storm
    1. Jonah: Sleeping during a storm, exits boat to calm the storm
    2. Christ: Sleeping during a storm, calls out to calm the storm

Message: If your on mission the storm doesn’t matter, being off mission puts you into storms

  1. Inquisition
    1. Jonah: Sailors inquire as to who Jonah is
    2. Christ: Pilate inquires as to who Jesus is

Message: Jonah’s identity was who he was in relation to God, Jesus’ mission was who He was AS God

  1. Death
    1. Jonah: Jonah willingly gives up his life to save the sailors
    2. Christ: Willingly gave up His life for all

Message: Jonah willingly surrendered to judgment he deserved, Christ willingly surrendered to judgment WE deserved

  1. Grave
    1. Jonah: Spent three days and night in Sheol. Body saved from decay
    2. Christ: Spent three days and night in Sheol. Body saved from decay

Message: Acts as the sign for Christ’s death and resurrection

  1. Mission
    1. Jonah: Executes message of repentance after resurrection
    2. Christ: Executes mission of Spirit and message of repentance

Message: Our mission is confirmed in Christ’s resurrection, our mission begins once we’re resurrected (born again)

  1. Heart of Gentiles
    1. Jonah: Sent to gentile capital
    2. Christ: Gospel went to gentile capital

Message: God loves who we often deem unlovable

Guided Questions for Discussion

  1. Are you living a mission driven life or does life drive your mission?
  2. Have you taken complete ownership of your mission to be a witness? To not accept an assignment is the same as to reject it, if you haven’t accepted your mission as witness, then you have rejected it.
  3. Who, where, or what is your Nineveh? Is it a political group or party? Is it another religion, race, or ethnicity? Is it a family member? Co-worker?
  4. Do we treat our mission with the same consequence as the Book of Jonah reveals? For ourselves? For others?
  5. What mechanical or superficial aspects of our faith do we emphasize that can distract us from the real assignment?
  6. How can knowing Jesus better enable us to accomplish our mission better?
  7. Passion drives mission. Is your mission-driven life also a passion-driven life? How does a passion for the mission help accomplish the mission? If you lack passion in your mission, how do you gain it back?
  8. Do you take your mission personally or is it simply out of obedience and obligation? For example, do you tithe out of obligation, or out of personal investment to God’s kingdom?
  9. Does God’s character anger you? For example, we love His discipline as applied to those who wrong us, and love His grace when wrong Him and others, but do we love His discipline for us when we wrong others or His grace when others wrong us?
  10. Have you had any experience of people you counted out, but surprised you when they repented? Did you rejoice in it or were you skeptical or angry?


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