Limitless Compassion, "Jonah 1:1-10"
Jonah 1:1, “1 The word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai saying”
- In verse 1 we see the name “Jonah” and the name Jonah means “dove, a messenger of peace.”
- We don’t know a ton about Jonah, but Jonah would have been raised just like every other Israelite in history, which is to be a blessing to others. Did you know this about Israel?
- Abraham in Genesis is established to be a blessing to all the nations. Moses is raised up for Israel to be a blessing to all the nations. David is set apart to lead Israel to be a blessing to all the nations, so that Israel is established to be like a mirror that reflects the glory of God to the nations, so that the nations of the world might see Israel, see the beauty of Israel, and that it would peak their curiosity about the God of Scripture.
Jonah 1:2, “2 Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me.”
- In verse 2 the God of Scripture says, “Jonah, arise, get up, go to Nineveh.” Circle the word, “Nineveh” in your notes.
- Nineveh is the capital city of Assyria, Israel’s enemy, modern day Iraq, and Assyria is a growing in wickedness. They are hurting themselves, hurting one another, and hurting the God of Scripture.
- It is possible when we hear that the book of Jonah is about “compassion for others” and we think compassion means acts of service, grace, mercy, love, but by verse 2 we start to see a biblical understanding of compassion for others starting to unfold
Jonah 1:3, “3 But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.”
- In verse 3 Jonah flees to Tarshish. Do you know where Tarshish is on a map? Tarshish is modern day Spain, 2,000 miles away. The God of Scripture calls Jonah to go from Israel to Iraq, and Jonah goes to Spain.
Jonah 1:4, “4 The Lord hurled a great wind on the sea and there was a great storm on the sea so that the ship was about to break up.”
- In verse 4 the Lord “hurled” a great wind, and a great storm into the life of Jonah. Our eyes go to the great wind and the great storm, but the emphasis is that “the Lord hurdled.”
- The book of Jonah starts off with biblical compassion being extended to the people of Nineveh, and by verse 4 we see biblical compassion being extended to Jonah by the God of Scripture “hurling” a great wind and a great storm into the life of Jonah.
- Jonah is trying to flee from the presence of the Lord, verse 3. It would be cruel if we read verse 4, and it says, “The God of Scripture didn’t want to say anything to hurt Jonah’s feelings, so He gave up on Jonah and moved on to someone else.”
- No, the God of Scripture cares about the people of Nineveh; sends Jonah, and the God of Scripture cares about Jonah, hurls great winds and great storms into Jonah’s life to draw Jonah back to the Lord.
Jonah 1:5, “5 Then the sailors became afraid and every man cried to his god, and they threw the cargo which was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone below into the hold of the ship, lain down and fallen sound asleep.”
- I think it is easy for us to read verse 5 and think to ourselves, “How is Jonah sleeping in a great storm?” But, you need to know when we “flee from the presence of the Lord” we are fleeing from the light, and when we are fleeing from light we are going to end up in darkness, and when we are engulfed in darkness we aren’t always able to see things clearly. Jonah is disoriented.
Jonah 1:6, “6 So the captain approached him and said, “How is it that you are sleeping? Get up, call on your god. Perhaps your god will be concerned about us so that we will not perish.”
- Keep in mind Jonah is not a sailor, Jonah probably didn’t have a specific role on the ship as a sailor, but when everyone’s life is in jeopardy, Jonah could be doing something to be helpful, but Jonah is engulfed in so much darkness he is completely disconnected from reality.
Jonah 1:7, “7 Each man said to his mate, “Come, let us cast lots so we may learn on whose account this calamity has struck us.” So they cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah.”
- Casting lots would have been throwing dice, and it would have been like drawing straws to see who gets the short straw, and again we see the God of Scripture involved in the smallest details.
Jonah 1:8, “8 Then they said to him, “Tell us, now! On whose account has this calamity struck us? What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?”
- In verse 8 we see all these questions driving at Jonah’s identity. Write in your notes, “The sailors wants to know Jonah.” Sailor’s are crying out to some higher power. The Captain is crying out to some higher power, therefore, Jonah who do you cry out to?
Jonah 1:9, “9 He said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land.”
- Jonah replies in verse 9, “I am a Hebrew! I cry out to the God of heaven who made the sea and the land.” Isn’t that interesting?
- In the first 8 verses Jonah is trying to “flee from the presence of the Lord”, but in verse 9 Jonah describes the God of Scripture to the height of the heavens, depth of the sea, and creator of all things.
- You can’t flee from the presence of the Lord who is in all and over all. The God of Scripture is everywhere. Somehow Jonah has found himself in a place with the Lord where he is spouting off these great characteristics of the Lord, and at the same time Jonah has lost personal connection to those great characteristics. Does that make sense?
Jonah 4:2, “2 … Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity.”
- We will touch more throughout the series, but the reason Jonah has lost connection with the Lord in chapter 1 is because Jonah is convinced the people of Nineveh are deserving of judgment because they are a wicked people, but Jonah has forgotten that He too is one of those wicked people. It is called self-righteousness.
- Jonah is thinking, “How in the world could the God of Scripture show mercy toward Nineveh?” Their offenses are too wicked! But really Jonah should be asking, “How in the world can the God of Scripture be showing mercy toward Jonah?” This is why we talk about the gospel all the time!
- The gospel is that all people, all nations, from all points in history have abandoned the Light of God to pursue our purposes, and as a result we are all cloaked in darkness.
The good news is that the God of Scripture isn’t indifferent toward our darkness, the God of Scripture doesn’t applaud our darkness, but instead the God of Scripture extends biblical compassion toward our darkness.
In the life of Nineveh He sends Jonah, in the life of Jonah He sends a great wind and a great storm, and in the life of humanity He sends Himself. His name is Jesus.
It is Jesus who steps out of the heavens. It is Jesus who throws Himself into the storms, and it is because Jesus is deeply committed to draw His people back to Himself.