Ask 100 people about the prophet Jonah (whose Biblical accounts–and adventures!–are contained in his Book in the Bible–which is one of the SHORTEST [4 chapters] Books in the Bible.) and probably 90+ know that Jonah was swallowed by a great fish. (It doesn’t say “whale” as most believe–but then, who knows? Perhaps great fish were called “whales” in those days?)
Those 90+ percent will likely feel pretty good that they know that Jonah was swallowed (Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights).
But, HOW did Jonah find himself to be in the belly of that great fish?
What other things did that prophet do?
MOST do not know.
And so, this piece will answer the questions: “Why was Jonah running away from God?” AND “What happened to Jonah?”
WHY WAS JONAH RUNNING AWAY FROM GOD?
It seems a bit odd that a prophet of God would, not only DISOBEY Him, BUT, would try running away from God.
But that’s what the prophet Jonah did.
Even the pagans KNOW better than that!
“Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. “
So, God told Jonah to go to Ninevah and “cry against it” (warn it it was headed for God’s judgment–and destruction).
BUT INSTEAD, Jonah decided that he would try to run away from God by booking passage on a ship to Tarshish–which is in the OPPOSITE direction from Ninevah.
This obviously did not work out well.
“But the LORD sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken. Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep. So the shipmaster came to him, and said unto him, What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not. And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah. Then said they unto him, Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this evil is upon us; What is thine occupation? and whence comest thou? what is thy country? and of what people art thou? And he said unto them, I am an Hebrew; and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land.
“Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him, Why hast thou done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them. Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous. And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you. Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not: for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous against them. Wherefore they cried unto the LORD, and said, We beseech thee, O LORD, we beseech thee, let us not perish for this man’s life, and lay not upon us innocent blood: for thou, O LORD, hast done as it pleased thee. So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging. Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the LORD, and made vows.”
So, EVEN WHEN DISOBEDIENT, Jonah brought the mariners to the LORD.
THAT is how the prophet found himself in the sea.
BUT, God wasn’t finished with His fleet-footed prophet.
“Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.”
So that was how Jonah found himself running away from God (as a Hebrew, Jonah was aware that Ninevah wanted to conquer ALL nearby lands–including Israel;–as a prophet, Jonah knew Ninevah WOULD conquer Israel: so Jonah did NOT want Ninevah to be warned; Jonah wanted Ninevah to be destroyed).
WHAT HAPPENED TO JONAH AFTER THE FISH INCIDENT?
FIRST, Jonah prayed to God.
“Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish’s belly, And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.”
NEXT, God had the fish deposit Jonah on land.
“And the LORD spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.”
THEN, Jonah agreed to go to Ninevah–as he should have done in the first place.
“And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee. So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD.”
NEXT, Jonah walked through Ninevah and cried, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” And–to Jonah’s great surprise (and disappointment), the people of Ninevah PAID ATTENTION to Jonah and repented of its evil–and God spared it (for awhile UNTIL it eventually turned back to evil again.).
“So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.”
FINALLY, Jonah was ANGRY with God for sparing Ninevah (whom Jonah knew would cause Israel much grief).
The fourth chapter of Jonah tells of how God reasoned with Jonah over this matter.
“Then said the LORD, Doest thou well to be angry?”
HOW MUCH did the reader already know of the Biblical account of Jonah?
WAS the reader surprised by ANY of the account?
It is not YET too late: there is still a little time to change direction (repent), place your faith (hope) for the future entirely on Jesus Christ and enter the kingdom of heaven.
DOES the reader believe he is saved?
DOES the reader believe he is NOT saved?
THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST
“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. ”
–1 Corinthians 15:1-8
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”
[Portions of this piece appeared originally in End Times Prophecy Headlines: September 20, 2021.]
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by Jeremiah Jameson
–with Mondo Frazier
image: Wikimedia Commons/pd
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