Jonah 1 & 2

The key to Jonah’s flight is found in 4:2. He feared the tenderness of God. If he went to Nineveh as commanded, Nineveh might repent, and be spared (cf. Jer.18:8) to become later the destroyer of Israel. If he did not go, God’s judgment would fall upon Nineveh, and Israel would be saved.

  1. ‘But Jonah’ (verse 3); ‘Then the Lord’ (verse 4). Cf. Acts 11:8, 9 (where the context also concerns Gentiles). Of what truth had Jonah lost sight?
    Cf. 1 Tim. 2:4. How did the Lord retain control of the situation?
    With 1:7b cf. Prov. 16:33, and notice ‘provided’ in 1:17.
  2. Jonah (like Adam and Eve, Gen. 3:8-10) tried to escape from the presence of the Lord (1:3, 10; cf. 2:4). Why was this impossible?
    In the light of this passage, look up Ps. 139:23, 24 and apply it to yourself ?
  3. Jonah’s prayer, remarkable for its lack of direct petition, speaks of distress and passes into thanksgiving. What was the fundamental cause of his distress? What caused the transition?

Notes

  1. 1:3. ‘Run away from the Lord’: this amounted to renouncing his vocation, for the prophet stood in the presence of the Lord (cf. 1 Kgs. 17:1).
  2. 1:17. ‘Three days and three nights .. cf. Matt. 12:40. According to Jewish reckoning this mean one full day with the night before and the night after.
  3. 2:7. To the Hebrews, ‘remembering’ could be much more than a bare mental process; it could mean recreating to the imagination the historic deeds of the Lord; the use of the word requires detailed study. With this passage cf. Ps. 77:11, 12; 105:4-6; 143:5.
  4. 2:9. The woe was probably some sort of sacrificial thanks – offering. Vowing is a biblical practice; but the Old Testament counsels against hasty (Prov. 20:25) and empty (Eccl. 5:5) vows.
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