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(The objective of these ‘Frameworks' is to provide an easy-to-read layout of the text in order then to use these individual verses for meditation. To focus verses we have also added in a description of what is happening)


[Introduction to Jonah: The story of Jonah is one of those that used to appear in Sunday Schools often, simply because it is so graphic and simple. Part 1 ends up with Jonah inside a big fish. Part 2 sees Jonah praying some remarkable things while there. Part 3 is Jonah prophesying in Nineveh and, remarkably, the city repenting. Part 4 is an amusing little episode afterwards where Jonah complains that he looks an idiot because God hadn't judged the city, and God having to explain in a very graphic way why He didn't.

Nineveh is in what we might call the north-east corner of the ‘Fertile Crescen' that extended round from Israel to Babylonia. It was the capital of the Assyrian empire. Jonah went there in 770BC and about 150 years later Nahum prophesied against it and it was destroyed in 612BC. Within this short book we will see well over a dozen incidents or activities attributed to God. Once we can accept that God is a God of miracles for whom nothing is impossible, none of these things seem improbable. Take God out of this book it is merely a book of coincidences and superstition.

The big lesson at the beginning is all about the sovereignty and holiness of God. The big lessons at the end are all about the God of mercy and grace who is more concerned for salvation of people than their destruction.]


GO TO   Chapter 1  /   Chapter 2  /  Chapter 3  /  Chapter 4


FRAMEWORKS: Jonah 1: Jonah's Disobedience & Disappearance


[Introductory Comments: Chapter 1 (or Part 1) tells how Jonah has the rather dubious distinction of having been swallowed by a fish – later to tell the tale!]


v.1-3 God calls Jonah who runs away

v.4-6 The Lord threatens the ship

v.7-10 When the sailors seek the reason for the storm, Jonah is revealed

v.11-13 Jonah asks to be thrown overboard but they resist

v.14,15 When they eventually do the storm calms

v.16,17 The crew turn to God and God has a big fish swallow Jonah



v.1-3 God calls Jonah who runs away 


v.1  The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai:  

v.2  “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”  

v.3  But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD. 


[Notes: Jonah is clearly a prophet who hears God speak to him. [Activity No.1 of God] He hears God tell him to go to Nineveh and preach against its sin. The size of the task almost overwhelms Jonah and so he decides to run away to Spain via Joppa.]



v.4-6 The Lord threatens the ship


v.4  Then the LORD sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. 

v.5  All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship. But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep. 

v.6  The captain went to him and said, “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us so that we will not perish.” 


[Notes: The storm that arises is no accident and is attributed to God. [Activity No.2 of God]. The superstitious sailors call on their gods but to no avail. Jonah is completely at peace and asleep! The sailors wake him and tell him to call on his god.]



v.7-10 When the sailors seek the reason for the storm, Jonah is revealed


v.7   Then the sailors said to each other, “Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity.” They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah. 

v.8  So they asked him, “Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What kind of work do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?” 

v.9  He answered, “I am a Hebrew and I worship the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” 

v.10  This terrified them and they asked, “What have you done?” (They knew he was running away from the LORD, because he had already told them so.) 


[Notes: As the storm continues, they do what we so often do, look round for someone to blame, and so draw lots to find out who it is. Amazingly the lots falls to Jonah. [Activity No.3 of God?] Jonah testifies about the Lord and they question him further.]



v.11-13 Jonah asks to be thrown overboard but they resist


v.11   The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?” 

v.12  “Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.” 

v.13  Instead, the men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before. 


[Notes: They appeal to him and so this phlegmatic prophetic says it is his fault and the only way to deal with the problem is to throw him overboard. They don't like that thought and try to row ashore – to no avail.]



v.14,15 When they eventually do the storm calms


v.14  Then they cried out to the LORD, “Please, LORD, do not let us die for taking this man's life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, LORD, have done as you pleased.” 

v.15  Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. 


[Notes: They appeal to Yahweh for forgiveness but throw Jonah overboard and immediately it becomes calm. [Activity No.4 of God.]



v.16,17 The crew turn to God and God has a big fish swallow Jonah


v.16  At this the men greatly feared the LORD, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows to him. 

v.17  Now the LORD provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.


[Notes: The crew acknowledge the Lord but meanwhile the Lord provides a large fish [it may have been a whale] to swallow him where he remains for three days and nights. [Activity No.5 of God] NB. There have been reports of such things happening and the people surviving.]



GO TO   Chapter 1  /   Chapter 2  /  Chapter 3  /  Chapter 4


FRAMEWORKS: Jonah 2: Jonah's Prayer


v.1,2 Jonah prays in faith – God heard his call

v.1  From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God. 

v.2  He said: “In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry. 


v.3,4 He acknowledges this is God's word but prays with hope

v.3   You hurled me into the depths, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me. 

v.4  I said, ‘I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.' 


v.5,6 Everything about this was life-terminating

v.5   The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. 

v.6  To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you, LORD my God, brought my life up from the pit. 


v.7,8 As he lost hope he cried out to the Lord

v.7  “When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, LORD, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. 

v.8  “Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God's love for them. 


v.9,10 He prays in faith and God answers – he is delivered from the fish

v.9  But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the LORD.' ” 

v.10  And the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.


[Notes: Verse 1 tells us Jonah prayed but verse 2 confirms that and is the first sign of his prayer being answered. Verse 3 confirms he believes it is an act of God that he is there but whether verse 4 is a statement of faith inside the fish or an addition after he is expelled from the fish is unclear. Verses 5 & 6 explain that as he went down into the depths he concluded this was the end. Yet even there – verse 7 – he prays for help. Unlike pagans, he will praise the Lord – verses 8 & 9 – and the Lord [v.10] gets the fish to spew him out. [Activity No.6 of God]



GO TO   Chapter 1  /   Chapter 2  /  Chapter 3  /  Chapter 4



FRAMEWORKS: Jonah 3: Nineveh hears and repents


v.1-3 God calls again and Jonah obeys

v.4,5 Jonah preaches and collectively Nineveh respond

v.6-9 The kings calls on the city to repent

v.10 The Lord Relents


v.1-3 God calls again and Jonah obeys


v.1  Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time: 

v.2  “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.” 

v.3  Jonah obeyed the word of the LORD and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it. 


[Notes: The Lord speaks again to Jonah [Activity No.7 of God] telling him to go to Nineveh and this time he goes, taking three days to work his way through this large city. We might note in passing that having been living in the acids in the inside of the fish for three days, Jonah is almost certainly a horribly bleached apparition which may have been used by the Lord to bring conviction to all who saw and heard him throughout this massive city!]



v.4,5 Jonah preaches and collectively Nineveh respond


v.4  Jonah began by going a day's journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” 

v.5   The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. 


[Notes: As he prophesies their destruction they believe and repent. [as we belief repentance and conviction only comes from the Lord we see this as Activity No.8 of God]



v.6-9 The kings calls on the city to repent


v.6  When Jonah's warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. 

v.7  This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. 

v.8  But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. 

v.9  Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.” 


[Notes: This conviction goes all the way to the royal palace and the king issues a decree that the whole city must repent.]



v.10 The Lord Relents


v.10  When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.


[Notes: The outcome is that God does not destroy them. [Activity No.9 of God]



GO TO   Chapter 1  /   Chapter 2  /  Chapter 3  /  Chapter 4



FRAMEWORKS: Jonah 4: God gives Joan a lesson in Mercy


v.1-4 Jonah complains

v.5-8 The Lord lays on a practical example

v.9-11 God explains to Jonah



v.1-4 Jonah complains


v.1  But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. 

v.2  He prayed to the LORD, “Isn't this what I said, LORD, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. 

v.3  Now, LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” 

v.4  But the LORD replied, “Is it right for you to be angry?” 


[Notes: Jonah embarks on a complaining session with the Lord saying he knew that God would forgive them so his going was a waste of time. Our course God not judging them was dependent on their repentance and that could only come once they heard Jonah preaching. His grumpy, “I wish I was dead!” simply evokes a question from the Lord. [Activity No.10 of God]



v.5-8 The Lord lays on a practical example


v.5   Jonah had gone out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. 

v.6  Then the LORD God provided a leafy plant and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the plant. 

v.7  But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the plant so that it withered. 

v.8  When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah's head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, “It would be better for me to die than to live.” 


[Notes: Jonah isn't sure about what might yet happen to Nineveh so goes outside the city, and settles down to watch. Now the Lord makes a leafy plant grow up while Jonah is there [Activity No.11 of God] and Jonah is blessed by the shade. However the next day the Lord has a worm chew the plant to make it wither and remove his shade. [Activity No.11 of God] and then sends a hot wind to make Jonah even more uncomfortable. [Activity No.12 of God].



v.9-11 God explains to Jonah


v.9  But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?” “It is,” he said. “And I'm so angry I wish I were dead.” 

v.10  But the LORD said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 

v.11  And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”


[Notes: The Lord then questions Jonah about feeling angry [Activity No.13 of God] and Jonah simply reiterates – yet again! – that he wished he was dead. A seriously unhappy prophet! But God doesn't leave him there, He explains what He feels about Nineveh which makes Jonah's petulance appear what it is – petty by comparison! [Activity No.14 of God].


Additional Comment: The fact that there are clearly a number of what can only be described as miraculous elements to this story should not make us be distracted from the big lesson of this book, a lesson declared prophetically three times by Ezekiel: Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign Lord . Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?” (Ezek 18:23 – see also 18:32 & 33:11) This little book shows the lengths to which God will go to help that come about!


The book is presented in style as factual historical record and twice Jesus referred to it as such – Mt 12:39-41 & 16:4.]