Part One of a Bible Study on Jonah
What is the Gospel? (1Cor. 15:1-4)
Christ died according to the Scriptures.
He was buried,
He rose again on the third day, according to the Scriptures.
Last week we took a look at Genesis 22 for an example of Old Testament Scripture that teaches the death, burial, and resurrection on the third day of the Messiah. Today we will begin our study of the little four-chapter book of Jonah. Jesus told us that Jonah was a sign for the Jews. It is one of the most intriguing books giving us a hint that the Messiah would rise again on the third day.
Read Matthew 12:38-41 Jesus said that He would be in the grave for three days and three nights just as Jonah was in the fish for three days and three nights. If we take Jesus at His word, then His crucifixion could have been on Good Wednesday! There is much debate over the timing of the Crucifixion which we can look at in more depth when we study those passages. Just understand that Jesus wasn’t necessarily crucified on Friday. He could have been in the tomb Wednesday night, Thursday, Thursday night, Friday, Friday night, and Saturday. According to Jewish reckoning of days, the day begins in the evening before. (The evening and the morning were day one, and so on from Genesis 1) So as far as a Gentile is concerned, Jesus rose on Saturday night, but the Jews would call that very early on Sunday morning. This gives three days and three nights like Jesus said. Of course the whole topic is fraught with controversy, so there’s no way to be dogmatic about it.
Good Friday became a celebration around 400 years after the resurrection and became an official part of the celebration we call Easter during the Middle Ages. “In church history, there was a significant amount of debate that went into determining when Easter would be observed. Dating Easter in conjunction with the vernal equinox and full moon had nothing to do with the biblical account of Christ’s resurrection or the Passover. It was pagan practices, such as the spring fertility goddess rituals that the Catholic Church “absorbed” and attempted to Christianize, that resulted in Easter’s being linked to the vernal equinox and the full moon. The only thing that is biblical regarding when Easter is now observed is the fact that Easter is always on a Sunday.” (gotquestions.org)
Jonah was the only Old Testament prophet who was sent only to the gentiles. He lived about 800 years before Christ. The book of Jonah is read aloud on Yom Kippur. Both Jonah and Nahum come from the area of Galilee. Both prophets were sent to gentiles. John 7:52 mentions that no prophet arises from Galilee, but these two did as well as Jesus!
Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian Empire which later would conquer the Northern Kingdom and carry them into captivity.
60 miles in circumference
Walls 100 feet high
Wide enough for 3 chariots to race abreast
1500 towers on the wall
600,000 to 1,000,000 inhabitants
Worshipped the god Dagon, a fish god; 1 Samuel 5
Read Jonah 1:3
“But” – God tells Jonah to “arise and go to Nineveh,” but instead he goes the opposite direction and “down.” Nineveh is east, Tarshish is west.
Note how many times Jonah goes “down.” In the Scriptures, “up” always points toward God, and “down” always points away from God.
Down to Joppa
Down in the ship
Down the sides
Down in the gullet of the fish
Down to the bottoms of the mountains
Jonah tries to go “down” to get away from God, but God doesn’t let him go. There have been times in all of our lives when we “ran” from God. Adam and Eve tried to hide from God. Sin causes us to avoid the Lord and try to get away from Him. If we truly belong to Him, He will never let us go. “And I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.” John 10:28-29 We can’t even pluck our own life out of His hand if we belong to Him. He will find us just as He found Adam and Eve and covered them with the innocent blood and skins of the lamb; or He will find us like He found Jonah and bring about some trial or discipline that well drive us back to Him. Either way, it is much better if we never try to run away and hide in the first place!
Another “but,” – this time God is acting. The storm is no ordinary storm because the professional sailors are very afraid. In fact, the storm is 1 of at least 10 miracles in this book:
Selection of Jonah as the cause of the storm
Sudden subsiding of the storm
Great fish at the right time and place (animals are more obedient that people are!)
Preservation of Jonah
Ejection safe and sound on dry ground
Repentance of the entire city of Nineveh after Jonah’s preaching!
Jonah is asleep! Many times we are oblivious to the fact that our sins are affecting those around us. Even sins I think are only hurting me, are hurting those who love me, because they don’t want to see me destroy myself with sin. Who loves us most of all? We need to wake up!
“Lots” – Proverbs 16:33 says, “The lot is the Lord’s.” In the Old Testament, they frequently cast lots (dice, or stones) when they wanted God to make a choice for them. This practice only happens once in the New Testament when they cast lots to replace Judas with Matthias. Later, Jesus Himself chooses Paul as an Apostle to the gentiles. Some scholars think that Paul was the actual replacement chosen by God and the use of lots, or dice, is no longer valid because we have the Holy Spirit to guide us in decision making.
Read Isaiah 64:6. We know that Jonah is a sign, or a symbol of the Messiah dying for the sins of the world. Because we cannot save ourselves, the sailors were not able to save their lives or the boat without casting Jonah into the sea. Look at what the men did in an effort to save themselves:
They threw the cargo overboard.
They rowed as hard as they could.
This is a picture of how we try to save ourselves by own works without the sacrifice of Jesus. Our righteousness is filthy rags according to Isaiah. Only God’s grace through the blood of Jesus can save us. It was only by the “sacrifice” of Jonah that they were saved. No matter how hard they tried, they were unable to save themselves until they threw Jonah into the water.
They cried out to the God of Jonah and asked Him to forgive them for sacrificing innocent blood. Jonah wasn’t innocent, but in type he is an example of the innocent blood of Jesus.
From Galilee From Galilee
Sent by God Sent by God
Sleeping on a boat during a storm Sleeping on a boat during a storm
Calmed the storm when thrown overboard Calmed the storm with His words
Innocent in type Truly innocent
Sacrificed by others Sacrificed by others
Sacrifice saved the lives of the fishermen Sacrifice saves all who trust in Him
3 days and nights in the fish 3 days and nights in the earth
“Resurrected” in type Resurrected
Able to walk and preach (no recovery) Able to walk out of the grave
Many gentiles are saved Church made mostly of gentiles
Jesus told the Pharisees that this story was a sign for them. These Old Testament types and shadows verify for us that Jesus was the Messiah because He matches them perfectly. He was indeed who He said He was. Have we put our trust in Him? Are we taking seriously our responsibility as His disciples?