Study 1 From the Book of Jonah is: Jonah 1 and 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. Je. 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.
- ‘But Jonah’ (verse 3); ‘But 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. Pr. 16:33, and notice ‘appointed’ in 1:17.
- Jonah (like Adam and Eve, Gn. 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.
- 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?
- 1:3. ‘Flee…from the presence of the Lord’: this amounted to renouncing his vocation, for the prophet stood in the presence of the Lord (cf. 1. Ki.17:1).
- 1:17. “three days and three nights’: cf. Mt. 12:40. According to Jewish reckoning this may mean one full day with the night before and the night after.
- 2:7. To the Hebrews, ‘remembering’ could be much more than a bare mental process; he could mean recreating to the imagination the historic deeds of the Lord; the use of the word repays detailed study. With this passage cf. Pss. 77:11, 12; 105:4-6; 143:5.
- 2:9. The vow was probably some sort of sacrificial thank-offering. Vowing is a biblical practice; but the Old testament counsels against hasty (Pr. 20:25) and empty (Ec. 5:5) vows.