Jonah, Lesson 1

Read Jonah 1:1-11


No book of the Bible has been subjected to more scorn and ridicule by skeptics and infidels than the book of Jonah. There may be one exception, that being the first three chapters of Genesis. Despite the criticism of men, the Lord vouches for its genuineness. Matthew 12:40 says, “For as Jonah was three days…” etc. The Lord used the experience of Jonah as a type of His own death and resurrection and in doing so lifted the book above the realm of fiction, allegory, or fable.

The attacks upon the authority of the book proceed from several sources: The infidel - He laughs and rejects the story, insisting that it is merely fable and fiction. There are those who accept the book as being inspired, but then only consider it as a parable or allegory with spiritual lessons, but deny its literalness. Another group consists of sincere Christians who believe the story of Jonah because incidents have been recorded of sailors surviving after similar experiences. This group believes and accepts the story because it has been proven possible.

The demand for proof of this incident may be sincere and motivated by the highest purposes, but to remove the element of faith, and seek for natural evidence instead, we destroy the message. We should beware of over-emphasis on the miracle of the great fish. The book is filled with the supernatural, such as the gourd, the worm, the east wind, and Nineveh. We must not remove this story from the realm of the miraculous.

The book of Jonah is the story of a man, the prophet of the Lord, who had one of the strangest experiences in all of human history. The place from which he prophesied was the bottom of the sea. The pulpit from which he preached was the stomach of a fish. More striking was the prophecy itself, for Jonah preached the gospel of the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. He preached eight hundred years before Christ was born.

In all of the N.T. there is no clearer picture of the death and resurrection of our savior (see Matthew 12:40). In taking the book of Jonah to illustrate his death and resurrection, our Lord authenticates the genuineness and historicity of the book. There are many other pictures of death and resurrection in the O.T. that Christ might have used. For instance:

- In Genesis 1, we have the earth rising out of the waters of judgment, then life appeared on earth. This happened the third day of creation. It is a clear picture of life after death.

- The ark rested on the seventeenth day of the seventh month upon Mount Ararat, after being engulfed in the waters of death. Why did the Holy Spirit record the exact date? See Genesis 8:4. The answer is clear when we remember that the Passover was kept on the fourteenth day of this same month. The Passover is a picture of the death of Christ. He then arose three days later on the seventeenth day of the month. This is an indisputable picture of the death and resurrection.

- Isaac would have been another example.

- Joseph also illustrates this great truth. He, too, was in the place of death, but was exalted to the throne. By choosing Jonah from all the other available types and shadows, He raised the book of Jonah from the realm of doubt and speculation and established it as infallibly inspired.


Jonah 1:1 - “The Word of the Lord came unto Jonah.”

Jonah 1:2 - “Arise and go to Nineveh that great city.” This verse tells of the commission which the Lord gave to him. The message he was commissioned to preach was one of judgment, “Cry against it; for this wickedness is come up before Me.”

In Jonah 3:4, that message is given in greater detail, “Yet 40 days and Nineveh shall be destroyed.” The Lord had borne with their wickedness a long time. At this point, He sets a deadline. Unless Nineveh repents, it will be destroyed in 40 days. This reminds us that God will not always plead with men; His patience will run out one day.

There comes a time when judgment must fall, unless the warning of God is heeded. Some examples can be seen in regards to the nations before the flood, Sodom, and the rich farmer. One day you will hear your last sermon, and receive your last invitation to come to Christ. God’s deadline is fixed unalterably, “It is appointed unto men once to die” (see Hebrews 9:27). The patriarch said, “I know not the day of my death.”

“Today, if you will hear His voice, harden not your heart.”

“Boast not thyself in tomorrow […]”

“Flee from the wrath to come.”

“Now is the accepted time […]”

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ […]”