Introduction: Jonah’s name in Hebrew means “dove.” When you think
about doves in the Bible, they are generally associated with good
news, right? After the great flood, a dove revealed the water had
receded. Genesis 8:11. When Jesus was baptized, God’s Spirit was
pictured as a dove affirming that Jesus was God’s Son. Matthew 3:16-17. On the other hand, GoBible reader Dr. Izak Wessels, sent me a
note pointing out that in Hosea 7:11 a dove is called “easily
deceived and senseless.” What kind of “dove” is Jonah? A man of
good news or a silly bird? Let’s jump into our lesson and learn more
about this unique prophet!

  1. Wrong Way

    1. Read Jonah 1:3. Nineveh was near the modern city of Mosul
      in Iraq. Anyone know where Joppa is? How about knowing
      where Tarshish is located? (The Bible Knowledge Commentary
      tells us that Joppa is modern Jaffa in Israel. Tarshish
      was probably Tartessus in Southern Spain – about 2,500
      miles west of Joppa.)

      1. Is Jonah heading in the right direction? (No. He was
        going the wrong way — the opposite direction he was
        supposed to go.)

      2. Do you think Jonah went down to the port and caught
        whatever ship he could find? (No. The sequence in
        verse 3 suggests that he had Tarshish in mind before
        he got to the port.)

      3. Jonah had in mind putting about 3,000 miles between
        himself and where he was supposed to be. Why?

        1. Let’s be practical here. Would you rather go to
          the beaches of southern Spain or Iraq?

      4. Notice that verse 3 gives us several specific details
        about Jonah’s actions. First, he looked for a ship
        heading to Tarshish. Second, he bought a ticket.
        Third, he got on board. Why do you think we have
        these details? (When I get on a plane, after everyone
        is seated, they announce our destination. No doubt
        they do that for people who might have accidentally
        gotten on the wrong plane. All these details in
        Jonah’s story show us this was no accident, he did
        not board “the wrong plane.” Jonah made the
        deliberate decision to run. He ran through several
        “red lights” when it came to disobeying God.)

      5. What was Jonah’s goal in all of this running? (To
        flee God.)

        1. Does this make any sense to you?

        1. What do you think Jonah had in mind? (The New
          Bible Commentary tells us that it was common to
          believe that a god only had power in those
          places where he was worshiped. By going so far
          away Jonah might have hoped to escape God’s
          sphere of influence.)

      1. Why would God choose a guy like this to be His

        1. What does the fact that God was still following
          His “wrong-way dove” teach us about our God?

      2. You make God sound like a “stalker.” Is this good?
        (Generally a stalker does not have your best
        interests in mind. God pursues us to save us.)

  1. The Storm

    1. Read Jonah 1:4-5. Who is God trying to reach? (Jonah, the
      one who was sleeping.)

      1. What does this teach us about God’s power to reach
        out to us? (God is willing to change the course of
        nature to get our attention. God has a powerful will
        and powerful means.)

      2. If God is reaching out to Jonah, why are so many
        other innocent people involved?

        1. Why does the owner of the boat have to suffer
          damage to the boat?

        2. Why do the shippers have to lose their cargo?

        3. Why do the sailors have to suffer such mental

      3. What do you think about Jonah peacefully sleeping
        while everyone else is suffering because of his sin?
        (This brings to mind the times when I am at a traffic
        light and the person ahead of me is fooling around
        and does not notice the light has changed to green.
        They finally notice in time to drive through the
        “yellow” light. As a result, they get through the
        light and I do not!)

        1. Should God have a more refined aim when it comes
          to addressing sin? (The way this story reads,
          none of the others caught in the “cross-fire”
          between God and Jonah knew about God. This
          experience taught them lessons about the true
          God that were much more valuable then whatever
          goods or tranquility they lost in the process.
          Jonah 1:16 sounds like they were having an
          evangelistic series!)

        2. What does this teach us about suffering? (Some
          bad things are sometimes intended to happen to
          us – just as God intended to catch Jonah in the
          storm. But sometimes we have bad things happen
          to us simply because we live in a world in which
          good and evil are locked in combat.)

        1. Some would argue that God never intends “bad
          things” to happen to us. They would say that
          Satan sent the terrible storm in an attempt to
          kill Jonah and everyone else on the ship. God
          intervened for good by sending the fish to save
          Jonah. Anything wrong with that view? (The first
          problem with that view is that it contradicts
          the plain text of the Bible. Jonah 1:4,12&14-16
          clearly attribute the start and end of the storm
          to God. The second problem is that if you
          believe that God could control the storm, what
          moral superiority is there in God allowing Satan
          to start the storm as opposed to starting the
          storm Himself? Trusting God, rather than making
          excuses for Him, is the best approach.)

      1. How do you explain that Jonah was sleeping during the
        storm? The first thing the captain asks him (v.6) is
        “How can you sleep?” I think that is a great
        question! Jonah’s answer is not recorded. What do you
        think is the answer?

        1. Is this like Jesus in Mark 4:37-39? (Jesus did
          not need to fear the storm. Jonah is not in
          that same position. It seems there are a number
          of potential explanations for Jonah’s sleep. He
          could be tired because he has been running so
          hard away from God. He could be sleeping
          because he believes he is at last safe from God.
          He could be sleeping because he is depressed and
          does not care about his life very much any

    1. Friend, running away from God is not an option. He will
      not force your will, but He will pursue you. Why not make
      it easier on everyone and give your heart to Him today?

  1. Next week: A Hebrew Prophet and Heathen Mariners.