Bible Studies in Book of Jonah
Jonah Chapter 3 Lesson: The greatest of all revivals
by I Gordon
With Jonah swallowed, now nowhere in sight, his future is bleak, not looking so bright
Yet still in faith he lifts up his voice, and in God his Saviour, he does rejoice.
And like a spud, shot straight from the gun, he's restored to life, back under the sun
So obeying the Lord, he goes off to preach, a prophet he is, though smelly and bleached
And after long travel and not looking so flash, Nineveh repents... In sackcloth and ash!
 ↩ Abraham knew about God's faithfulness even after trying to take the matter of having a promised son into his own hands with Hagar. Moses thought he had blown it forever and went to live out his days as a shepherd in Midian. Yet God still had a plan for him! Samson had blown it many times yet even in death still found God faithful to restore his strength one last time. And we could easily speak of David, Peter or the woman caught in adultery. All these people found God to be the God of the second chance.
 ↩ I've been enjoying the album 'Live' by All Sons and Daughters lately. The first song on the Album called 'Brokenness Aside' speaks of this thought of God's grace and faithfulness in the face of man's sinfulness. The song starts with;
Will your grace run out if I let you down? 'Cause all I know is how to run
'Cause I am a sinner, if it's not one thing it's another, Caught up in words, Tangled in lies
But You are a Saviour and You take brokenness aside And make it beautiful... Beautiful
 ↩ The number forty is interesting in scripture. Can you think of any times this pops up? Do you know what it stands for? It is generally understood to be about the time of testing and trials. Nineveh would be tested for 40 days. Then, should they not repent, comes judgment. Have a look at some of the many other examples of 40 in the Bible:
In the days of Noah's flood, the rains fell for 40 days and nights (Genesis 7:4). Israel was in the wilderness and ate Manna for 40 years (Exodus 16:35, Numbers 14:33-34). Moses was with God in the mount, 40 days and nights (Exodus 24:18). The Israelite spies searched the land of Canaan for 40 days (Numbers 13:25). 40 stripes was the maximum whipping penalty (Deuteronomy 25:3). Goliath presented himself to Israel for 40 days (1 Samuel 17:16). Saul reigned for 40 years (Acts 13:21). David reigned over Israel for 40 years (2 Samuel 5:4, 1 Kings 2:11). Solomon reigned same length as his father; 40 years (1 Kings 11:42). Elijah had one meal that gave him strength 40 days (1 Kings 19:8). Egypt is to be laid desolate for 40 years (Ezekiel 29:11-12). God gave Nineveh 40 days to repent (Jonah 3:4). Jesus fasted 40 days and nights (Matthew 4:2). Jesus was tempted 40 days (Luke 4:2, Mark 1:13). Jesus remained on earth 40 days after resurrection (Acts 1:3). Women are pregnant for 40 weeks (time of testing).
 ↩ Sackcloth is an interesting one. Tracing its usage and history comes back to Jacob as the first mention. It was used in times of great repentance or great sorrow and mourning.
Genesis 37:29-35 Now Reuben returned to the pit, and behold, Joseph was not in the pit; so he tore his garments. (30) He returned to his brothers and said, "The boy is not there; as for me, where am I to go?" (31) So they took Joseph's tunic, and slaughtered a male goat and dipped the tunic in the blood; (32) and they sent the varicolored tunic and brought it to their father and said, "We found this; please examine it to see whether it is your son's tunic or not." (33) Then he examined it and said, "It is my son's tunic. A wild beast has devoured him; Joseph has surely been torn to pieces!" (34) So Jacob tore his clothes, and put sackcloth on his loins and mourned for his son many days. (35) Then all his sons and all his daughters arose to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. And he said, "Surely I will go down to Sheol in mourning for my son." So his father wept for him.
 ↩ It is possible. I've mentioned this before but look at what Abraham Lincoln said in a speech to proclaim a national fast day in 1863:
'We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us! It behoves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.'
 ↩ There is an interesting point mentioned about this on the Got Questions website that says;
'As for Jonah's success in Nineveh, Orientalist Henry Clay Trumbull made a valid point when he wrote, 'What better heralding, as a divinely sent messenger to Nineveh, could Jonah have had, than to be thrown up out of the mouth of a great fish, in the presence of witnesses, say on the coast of Phoenicia, where the fish-god was a favourite object of worship? Such an incident would have inevitably aroused the mercurial nature of Oriental observers, so that a multitude would be ready to follow the seemingly new avatar of the fish-god, proclaiming the story of his uprising from the sea, as he went on his mission to the city where the fish-god had its very centre of worship' (H. Clay Trumbull, 'Jonah in Nineveh.'Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 2, No.1, 1892, p. 56).'
The historical authenticity is also backed up by the following points from the same site:
'As for Jonah's aquatic experience (which is the crux of the story), while there is no conclusive historical proof that Jonah was ever swallowed by a fish and lived to tell about it, there is some provocative corroboratory evidence. In the 3rd century B.C., a Babylonian priest/historian named Berosus wrote of a mythical creature named Oannes who, according to Berosus, emerged from the sea to give divine wisdom to men. Scholars generally identify this mysterious fish-man as an avatar of the Babylonian water-god Ea (also known as Enki). The curious thing about Berosus' account is the name that he used: Oannes.
Berosus wrote in Greek during the Hellenistic Period. Oannes is just a single letter removed from the Greek name Ioannes. Ioannes happens to be one of the two Greek names used interchangeably throughout the Greek New Testament to represent the Hebrew name Yonah (Jonah), which in turn appears to be a moniker for Yohanan (from which we get the English name John). (See John 1:42; 21:15; and Matthew 16:17.) Conversely, both Ioannes and Ionas (the other Greek word for Jonah used in the New Testament) are used interchangeably to represent the Hebrew name Yohanan in the Greek Septuagint, which is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament. Compare 2 Kings 25:23 and 1 Chronicles 3:24 in the Septuagint with the same passages from the Hebrew Old Testament.
As for the missing 'I' in Ioannes, according to Professor Trumbull who claims to have confirmed his information with renowned Assyriologist Dr. Herman V. Hilprecht before writing his own article on the subject, 'In the Assyrian inscriptions the J of foreign words becomes I, or disappears altogether; hence Joannes, as the Greek representative of Jona, would appear in Assyrian either as Ioannes or as Oannes' (Trumbull, ibid., p. 58).
Nineveh was Assyrian. What this essentially means is that Berosus wrote of a fish-man named Jonah who emerged from the sea to give divine wisdom to man - a remarkable corroboration of the Hebrew account.'
Related Series Posts
- Jonah Chapter 1 Bible Study Lesson: Running from the Lord
- Jonah Bible Study Chapter 1:17 Jonah, Jesus & the third day
- Jonah Chapter 2 Bible Study Lesson: The God of Great Comebacks
- Jonah Chapter 3 Bible Study Lesson: The greatest of revivals
- Jonah Chapter 4 Bible Study God's focus versus man's comfort