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Arno C. Gaebeleinn

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                             THE PROPHET JONAH


     The question as to the reality of the person of Jonah is answered
by 2 Kings 14:25. In this passage we find him mentioned as the prophet
who prophesied during the reign of Jeroboam II. His name means "dove,"
and his father's name Amittai means "the truth of the Lord." He was from
"Gath-Hepher"--the winepress of the well is the meaning of these two
words. Thus Jonah also belongs to the earlier prophets and the book
bearing his name, written by himself, occupies the right place in the
Old Testament. A Jewish tradition states that Jonah was the son of the
widow at Zarephath, whom Elijah raised to life; but this is only an
invention with no evidence whatever.

                  The Book and Experience of Jonah

     The book of Jonah is of a different nature from the books of the
other Minor Prophets and their personal experiences and activities as
reported in the historical books. The book of Jonah has no direct
prophecies in it, yet the experience it records is a great prophecy.

     We do not give the contents of the book in this introduction, but
shall follow all in the annotations. As is well known, the miraculous
history of the book of Jonah has been widely attacked by infidelity.
When the Old Testament was translated into the Greek (the Septuagint)
heathen philosophers and other writers ridiculed it and made sport with
the book. Their objections and ridicule are reproduced in the school of
the destructive criticism. We hear that men who boast of great
scholarship declare that Jonah never lived, that the story of the book
of Jonah is an imagination of some great literary genius. Says that
archcritic, Canon F.W. Farrar, in The Expositor's Bible: "Of Jonah we
know nothing more. For it is impossible to see in the book of Jonah much
more than a beautiful and edifying story, which may or may not rest on
some surviving legends." But as some one has said, it requires less
faith to credit this simple excerpt from Jonah's history than to believe
the numerous hypotheses that have been invented to deprive it of its
supernatural character. The great majority of these hypotheses are
clumsy and far-fetched, doing violence to the language, and doing
despite to the spirit of revelation. These infidel inventions are
distinguished by tedious adjustment, laborious combinations, historical
conjecture and critical jugglery.

     Some critics who do not want to reject altogether the story of
Jonah, suppose that it may have had some historical basis, though in the
form we have it today is fanciful and mythical. Another critic regards
it as a dream Jonah had in the ship. Still another critic views the book
as an historical allegory, descriptive of the fate of Manasseh, and
Josiah his grandson. What wild fancy this critic indulged in may be seen
from the fact that he compared the ship to the Jewish monarchy, while
the casting away of Jonah symbolized the temporary captivity of Manasseh!

     Many critics treat it as an allegory based upon the Phoenician myth
of Hercules and the sea-monster. To quote a few more, simply to show
what foolish things the darkened mind of man, who thinks he has attained
scholarship, can invent in order to disprove the truth of God, we
mention the theory that when Jonah was thrown into the sea he was picked
up by a ship having for a figurehead the head of a great fish. Another 
one says that probably Jonah took refuge in the interior of a dead whale
which was floating about near the spot he was cast overboard.

     The great majority of the critics today deny the historicity of the
book of Jonah and claim that its material has been derived from popular
legends, that it is fiction with a moral design. The moral lessons and
its religious meaning have even a wider range than these hypotheses. The
theories do not merit a special refutation.

                         Is it History or Myth?

     There is nothing in the account which would justify any critic to
charge it with being allegory. It is cast in the form of a narrative and has
all the literary characteristics of a personal experience. The sole
reason why the critics have classed it with myths and deny its
authenticity is the miraculous element in the book. Any one who believes
in an omnipotent God, a God who does wondrous things, will have no
difficulty whatever in accepting this book as a true history. We might
also add that all the earlier Jewish sources confirm the historicity and
literalness of the book of Jonah. Furthermore, the book is very simple
and pure Hebrew.

                         The Highest Evidence

     The highest authority that Jonah lived, and had the experience
recorded in this account is the Lord Jesus Christ. The words which He
spoke, who is the Truth, are plain and unimpeachable. There can be no
secondary meaning; "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the
whale's belly, so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in
the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with
this generation, and shall condemn it, because they repented at the
preaching of Jonah, and behold, a greater than Jonah is here" (Matthew
12:40-41). Our Lord tells us that there was a prophet by the name of
Jonah and that he had the experience related in the book which bears his
name. To deny this is tantamount to denying the knowledge and the
truthfulness of God. This is exactly what sneering critics do. They have
even gone so far as to say that if our ever blessed Lord knew better
than He spoke, He acted thus for expediency's sake, so as not to clash
with the current opinions among His contemporaries. Others boldly say
that He did not know, for He had not access to the sources which are at
our command today. In other words the destructive critic claims to have
more knowledge than the Lord Jesus Christ possessed in His days on earth.

     Professor A.C. Zenos (in the Standard Bible Dictionary) says: "The
New Testament does not commit Jesus Christ or its own authors to one or
the other of the contending theories." This is a poor statement. The
Lord Jesus did commit Himself fully to the historicity of Jonah. The
New Century Bible, a destructive work, makes the following declaration:
"We are not to conclude that the literal validity of the history of
Jonah is established by this reference"--that is, the words of our Lord
in Matthew 12:40. But the man who wrote this overlooked the fact that
the Lord in all His allusions to the Old Testament events always speaks
of them as actual, literal events, and, therefore, establishes their
literal validity. For instance, "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the
wilderness" ... "As it was in the days of Noah ..." "As it was in the
days of Lot." Then in the next verse in Matthew's Gospel, the Lord
speaks of the queen of the south's visit to Solomon as a real, literal
fact. Why then should He not have spoken of the history of Jonah as a
literal fact?

     The truth is that the Lord Jesus Christ placed such emphasis upon
the book of Jonah because it foreshadowed His own experience as the
Redeemer, and because He knew of what apostate Christendom would do with
this book and its record. There is no middle ground possible; either
this book of Jonah is true, relates the true and miraculous history of
this prophet, or the Lord Jesus Christ is not the infallible Son of God.
His person and His work stand and fall together with the authenticity of

     "Our Lord singled out this particular miracle about Jonah, which
has been thought of great difficulty, and affixes to it His own almighty
stamp of truth. Can you not receive the words of the Lord Jesus Christ
against all men that ever were? The Lord Jesus has referred to the fact
that Jonah was swallowed by a great fish, call it what you will--I am
not going to enter into a contest with naturalists, whether it was a
shark, or a sperm-whale or another. This is a matter of very small
account. We will leave these men of science to settle the kind (if they
can); but the fact itself, the only one of importance to us to affirm,
is that it was a great fish that swallowed and afterwards yielded up the
prophet alive. This is all one need to affirm the literal truth of the
fact alleged. There is no need to imagine that a fish was created for
that purpose. There are many fishes quite capable of swallowing a man
whole. But the fact is not only affirmed in the Old Testament, but
reaffirmed by our Lord Himself and applied to Himself. Any man who
disputes this must give an account before the judgment seat of Christ"
(W. Kelly).

               The Typical-Prophetic Meaning of Jonah

     The typical-prophetic meaning of the story of Jonah is authorized
by the words of the Son of God. His experience typifies the death, the
burial and the resurrection of our Lord, as well as the gospel message
which goes forth to the Gentiles. Furthermore, Jonah's experience is
prophetic also of the entire nation. The annotations will enter more
fully into these interesting and important foreshadowings.

                      The Division of the Book

     The division of the book is very simple. We maintain the chapter
division as made in the authorized version.

     Chapter 1 gives the record of Jonah's commission,
     his disobedience and the consequences.

     Chapter 2 contains his prayer and his deliverance.

     Chapter 3 has the account of his obedience in preaching to Nineveh.

     Chapter 4 contains the account of Jonah's discontent and correction.

                       Analysis and Annotations

                              CHAPTER 1

                The Commission of the Prophet ,His
                Disobedience, and the Consequences

     1. The commission (1:1-2)
     2. The disobedience (1:3)
     3. The consequences (1:4-17)

     Verses 1-2. The record begins with the same word with which all
historical books in the Bible begin, like Joshua, judges, Ruth, Samuel,
etc. The commission given to Jonah was to go to Nineveh, that great city,
and to cry against it on account of its wickedness.

     Nineveh was the great capital of the Assyrian nation; it is mentioned
for the first time in Genesis 10:11. Its great size is mentioned in
chapter 3:3, where we read it was "three day's journey." Ancient Greek
and Roman writers state that it was the largest city in the world in
that day. All these statements of its enormous size have been verified
by modern excavations. The word of the Lord came to Jonah to visit this
city and deliver the message. Seven times the phrase "the word of the
LORD came to Jonah" is used in this book.

     Verse 3. Jonah rose up at once, but instead of going to the east towards
Nineveh he fled in the other direction. Tarshish in Spain was his goal.
It is also stated that he fled from the presence of the Lord. This
cannot possibly mean that he fled from the presence of Him whom he knew
as the omnipresent One. The Psalm of David which speaks of this
expressly was then in the possession of Israel, and Jonah must have
known it: "Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit? Or whither shall I flee
from Thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there: if I
make my bed in sheol, behold, Thou art there. If I take the wings of the
morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall
Thy hand lead me, and Thy right hand shall hold me" (Psalm 139:7-10). He
did not flee from the presence of the Lord in the sense of escaping His
knowledge and authority. It means that he left the land of Israel where
Jehovah dwelt; he fled from the service-commission he had received.

     If we look for a motive of this disobedient prophet we find it
given in the book itself. In chapter 4:2 we read, "Therefore I fled
before unto Tarshish, for I knew that Thou art a gracious God, and
merciful, and slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest Thee
of evil." But why should he fear that God might be merciful to Nineveh
and save the city? It was undoubtedly a national spirit which possessed
the prophet. It has been suggested that the prophet knew that the
Assyrian would be used by the Lord as the instrument to punish Israel
and that he thought if Nineveh would perish the people Israel might be
saved. Inasmuch as God might show mercy to Assyria, Assyria would then
be used as the rod upon Israel, and for this reason he was disobedient
to the commission. But the direct prophecy that the Assyrian would be
the staff in the hand of the Lord to bring judgment upon Israel was made
through Isaiah (chapter 10), and that revelation had not yet been given,
for Jonah lived before the prophet Isaiah. It was rather the fear Jonah
had as a Jew that the conversion of the Gentiles might rob his nation of
the distinction of being the nation of election, to whom Jehovah had
revealed Himself exclusively. He therefore went to Joppa where he
engaged passage on a ship which was to bring him to Tarshish, which he
never reached. It was at Joppa where centuries later another Jew, who
was also jealous for his nation, had a vision which made it clear that
the gospel should be preached to the Gentiles. That Jew was Peter
(Acts 10).

     Verses 4-1 7. No sooner had the ship set sail but a terrible 
tempest arose, sent by the Lord. The danger of shipwreck was imminent. The heathen mariners became terrified and besides crying each one to
their gods, they threw the wares overboard to lighten the ship, so that
it might weather the storm. But we do not read anything about Jonah
calling on his God. Was it an evil conscience which led him to seek
sleep in the sides of the ship? Or did he seek sleep because he was in
despair? Or was his action produced by the calmness of faith, that he
knew himself in the hands of the Lord? Perhaps his action shows more
than anything indifference and an astonishing self security.

     The shipmaster aroused him from his sleep, asking him why he slept
and demanded that he call upon his God. The lot is cast and it fell upon
Jonah. He might have confessed before but he waited as long as he could.
The questions they asked him he answers readily. He confesses that he is a Hebrew, that he fears
the Lord, the God of heaven, the creator of sea and land. His confession
filled them with fear; they also knew that he had been disobedient for
he told them about it. It was a noble confession and shows that though
he had fled from the presence of the Lord his heart still clung to Him.
He answered the question, what shall we do unto thee, that the sea may
be calm unto us? by pronouncing his own sentence. "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." Again we must say
these are noble words. He is ready to sacrifice himself and trusts the
Lord and His mercy. After the mariners made an unsuccessful attempt to
row the ship to land, and calling upon the Lord not to lay upon them
innocent blood, they cast Jonah into the raging sea, and the sea became
calm. As a result the heathen sailors feared Jehovah exceedingly,
offering a sacrifice unto Him and making vows, while the Lord prepared a
great fish to swallow up Jonah, in whose belly Jonah remained three days
and three nights. Some have stated that the Lord created a special
sea-monster for this purpose, but the Hebrew word does not mean "create",
it means "appoint." It certainly was not a whale, for whales rarely ever
are seen in the Mediterranean sea, nor can a whale swallow a human being
on account of the narrowness of its throat. It was probably a species of
sea-monster frequently found in that sea and known by the scientific
name squalus carcharias, which can easily swallow a human being whole.
But the miracle was not that such a fish came up from the depths of the
sea and swallowed the prophet, but that Jonah was miraculously preserved
in the fish.

                      The Typical Application

     1. Jonah is a type of the Lord Jesus Christ. As already pointed out
in the introduction the words of our Lord sanction this application. But
as He said when He spoke of Solomon "a greater than Solomon is here," so
He also said "a greater than Jonah is here."

     We point out a few of the applications and contrasts. Jonah was
sent with a message of judgment; the Son of God came with the message of
love and salvation. "For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn
the world, but that the world through Him might be saved" (John 3:17).

     Jonah was disobedient, acting in self-will, fleeing from the
presence of the Lord. The Son of God was obedient; He never did His own
will but the will of Him that sent Him. The words He spoke were not His
own. "The word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's who sent me."
He always had the Father set before Himself and was uninterruptedly in
His presence.

     Jonah, indifferent and self-secure, was fast asleep in the ship
while the storm raged and the ship was in danger of going down. The Lord
Jesus was asleep in the ship on Galilee, and though the ship was filling
with water He was undisturbed, knowing that He was safe. He did
what Jonah did not and could not do. He rebuked his fearful disciples
and rebuked the wind and the waves; the storm was suddenly hushed.

     Jonah bore a faithful witness; but how much greater is His witness.
He is called "the faithful Witness" (Rev. 1).

     Jonah sacrificed himself in order to save those who were about to
perish. But how much greater His sacrifice! Jonah's fate came upon him
on account of his sin and disobedience. The Lord Jesus Christ did not
suffer for His sins, for He had none, being the Holy, the Sinless One.
He died exclusively for others and died for the ungodly. But did Jonah
actually die? Did death fasten upon him? Was his body miraculously
preserved so that it did not see corruption? Was it a literal
resurrection when the fish vomited him out? Jonah did not die physically.
But his experience typifies the death and the burial of Christ, and also
His physical resurrection. How could Jonah have prayed and cried to the
Lord out of the belly of the fish if his physical life had ceased? It
was a miracle, however, that Jonah was kept alive.

     The three days and three nights have troubled a good many
expositors. Not a few teach that in order to bring together the three 
days and three nights during which our Lord was in the grave, He must
have died either on Wednesday or Thursday. The three days and three
nights must be interpreted according to Hebrew usage. In Luke 24:21 we
read that the two who met the risen Lord said, "And beside all this,
today is the third day since these things were done." That was on the
first day of the week. Reckoning back, Saturday would be the second day
and Friday the first day, the day on which Christ died.

     2. Jonah is a type of the Jewish Nation.  In the Jewish synagogical
ritual the book of Jonah is read on the Day of Atonement. The writer is
indebted to an old orthodox Jew for the information why this story is
read on their great day of fasting and prayer. He said, "We are the
Jonah." Like Jonah the nation was called to bear witness to the Gentiles.
And as Jonah did not want the knowledge of Jehovah to go to the Gentiles,
so the Jews filled with national pride of being the elect nation opposed
God's purposes. (See Acts 13:6-12, 44-52; 14:19-20; 17:5-9; 18:12, etc.)

     Disobedient as Jonah, the nation left the presence of the Lord.
Jonah engaged passage on a merchant-ship, and the Jew became a
trafficker. Like as it was with Jonah, storm and disaster came upon the
nation after their great act of disobedience, when they rejected Christ,
and opposed His purposes. Like Jonah, in the midst of all their troubles
they did not deny, nor deny now, their nationality, their faith in God;
they also confess in some of their prayers, at least the orthodox Jews,
why it is that they are in trouble, that they have sinned and turned
away from the Lord.

     Jonah was cast overboard into the sea. The sea represents the
nations; that is where the Jews were cast. As a result of the casting
away of Jonah the heathen sailors turned to the Lord and sacrificed unto
Him. In Romans 11:11 we read, "through their fall (the Jews) salvation
came to the Gentiles to provoke them to jealousy." The belly of the fish
represents the grave of the Jews among the nations. They became
nationally and spiritually dead. But as the fish did not digest Jonah,
so the nations have not digested the Jew. They remain unassimilated,
just as Balaam predicted, "This nation shall dwell alone and not be
reckoned among the nations." The national preservation of Israel is one
of the great miracles in history, just as the preservation of Jonah in
the belly of the fish was a miracle.

                              CHAPTER 2

                   Jonah's Prayer and Deliverance

     1. The prayer (2:1-9)
     2. The deliverance (2:10)

     Verses 1-9. Some expositors have called attention to the fact that
the prayer is not one offered up for deliverance, but it is a
thanksgiving for the accomplished deliverance. But this is answered by
the opening verse of this chapter, in which we are told that he prayed
unto the Lord his God out of the fish's belly. When he found that he had
escaped the death he anticipated and that the power of God kept him
alive, he realized that the Lord his God would also deliver him; in
faith he praised Jehovah for the coming deliverance. His prayer is
composed almost entirely of sentences found in Psalms. We give the
references. Verse 2 reminds of Psalms 18:6, 7 and 120:1. The word "hell"
is the Hebrew "sheol," the unknown region. See also Psalm 30:3. Verse 3
contains a quotation from Psalm 42:7, "All thy waves and billows passed
over me." In connection with verse 4 consider Psalm 31:22. Verse 5 is
found in Psalm 18:4, except the seaweed which crowned his head as he
went into the deep; also Psalm 69:2. The thanksgiving in verse 6, "Yet
hast Thou brought up my life from the pit, O LORD, my God" is closely
allied to Psalm 30:5. The first part of verse 7 is from Psalm 142:3
(marginal reading) and 143:4. The second part is found in Psalm 5:7 and
18:6. The eighth verse reminds of Psalm 31:6 and the ninth verse is to
be connected with Psalm 42:4.

     The last utterance before the Lord commanded the fish is a
triumphant shout, "Salvation is of the LORD," a truth which many
preachers in Christendom do not know.

     Verse 10. The God of creation manifested His power over His
creation by impelling the fish to release its prisoner. The place at
which the fish vomited out Jonah is not mentioned; it was probably not
very far from the seaport Joppa where he embarked.

                           The Typical Application

     1. As to the Lord Jesus Christ. Our Lord went into the jaws of
death and died the sinner's death, the substitute of sinners. Most of
the passages from the Psalms which Jonah embodied in his prayer are
prophetic predictions of the sufferings of Christ. He cried to God for
deliverance and was heard. (See Hebrews 5:7) The answer was His
resurrection. Over His blessed head passed the waves and billows of a
Holy God, when as the substitute He hung on the cross. He knew more than
Jonah could ever know what it meant, "The sorrows of death compassed me,
and the floods of ungodly men made me afraid." The Sixty-ninth Psalm is
Messianic and the words Jonah used, "I sink in deep mire where there is
no standing; I am come into deep waters, where floods overthrow me,"
tell us of the deep sufferings through which He passed. While Jonah's
head was wound about with the seaweeds of the deep, our Lord bore the
crown of thorns, the emblem of the curse, upon His blessed head.

     It was on the third day that the fish vomited out Jonah. The third
day is marked in the Word of God as the day of resurrection. (See
Genesis 1:11-13; Hosea 6:1-3.) On the third day our Lord left the grave
behind and rose from among the dead. We quote a helpful paragraph on the
question of the three days and nights:

     "So our Lord Jesus, though by Jewish reckoning three days and
nights in the grave, literally lay there but the whole of Saturday, the Sabbath, with the part of Friday not
yet closed, and before the dawn of Sunday. For we must always remember
in these questions the Jews' method of reckoning. Part of a day
regularly counted for the twenty-four hours. The evening and the morning,
or any part, counted as a whole day. But the Lord, as we know, was
crucified in the afternoon on Friday; His body lay all the Sabbath day
in the grave; and He arose early on the Sunday morning. That space was
counted three days and three nights, according to sanctioned Biblical
reckoning, which no man who bows to Scripture would contest. This was
asserted among the Jews, who, fertile as they have been in excuses for
unbelief, have never, as far as I am aware, made difficulties on this
score. The ignorance of Gentiles has exposed some of them when
unfriendly to cavil at the phrase. The Jews found not a few stumbling
blocks, but this is not one of them; they may know little of what is
infinitely more momentous; but they know their own Bible too well to
press an objection which would tell against the Hebrew Scriptures quite
as much as the Greek." (Wm. Kelly, Jonah)
     2. As to the Nation. The prayer for deliverance and Jonah's
deliverance by the power of God foreshadows the coming experience of the
remnant of Israel. There is coming the time of Jacob's trouble in the
closing years of this age. Then a part of the nation will call upon the Lord. Their prayers are
also pre-written in the book of Psalms, and when finally they
acknowledge that "salvation is of the LORD," and He appears in His glory,
to turn away ungodliness from Jacob, the Lord will bring them out of their
spiritual and national death. He will speak to the fish, the nations,
and they will give up the Jews. Then comes the third day of their
restoration. (See Hosea 6:1-3.)

                              CHAPTER 3

                     Jonah Preaching in Nineveh

     1. The repeated commission and Jonah's obedience (3:1-4)
     2. The repentance and salvation of Nineveh (3:4-10)

     Verses 1-4. And now after Jonah's death and life experience the
Word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time, telling him to arise
and go to Nineveh to preach there what the Lord would command him. And
now he is obedient. Jonah arrived in the great city of three days'
journey, and advancing a day's journey into it he cried out his message,
"Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown." Following is the
objection of higher criticism as to this statement: "If we were reading
a historical description the narrative would be full of difficulties. A
strange prophet announced the impending destruction as he traveled
through the vast city for one day, and the huge population immediately
believed and repented. The king, who is not named, heard, put on
sackcloth, sitting in ashes. If this were history, Jonah did what no
prophet, no apostle, what Christ Himself never did. Never did a day's
preaching bring a vast strange city to repentance. But we repeat, it is
not history; it is a story with a meaning, an allegory; it is the great
announcement that God cares for the heathen world, and calls it to
repentance, and whenever men anywhere repent, His compassion is kindled
towards them" (New Century Bible). We reserve the answer to the supposed
difficulties in this historical account for the typical unfolding of
this event.

     Verses 4-10. The people of Nineveh believed God. The news that a
strange prophet had appeared with the message of doom must have spread
like wildfire and hundreds upon hundreds must have passed it on so that
in a very short time it reached every nook and corner of the great city;
it reached the palace of the king and the prisoners in the dungeon. That
this is real history has been confirmed by archaeology. For just about
that time Nineveh was in great trouble and facing a crisis, which made
them eager to believe the message and return to God. They evidenced
their faith by a universal fast and humiliation before God. The king
laid aside his royal robe and humiliated himself as every one of his
subjects did. He issued a proclamation to abstain from food and drink,
in which the dumb creation was included. What a solemn time the great
city had, when hundreds and thousands humbled themselves and when the
lowing and groaning of the domestic animals was heard throughout the
city. The people acknowledged all their wickedness and turned away from
their evil ways and deeds of violence, expressing the hope of God's
mercy. "Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from His
fierce anger, that we perish not." And God answered and was merciful to

                        The Typical Application

     1. As to the Lord Jesus. Jonah who typifies in his experience the
death, burial and resurrection of our Lord, preached the message as one
who had been in a grave and came to life out of that grave. In Luke
11:29-30, 32, our Lord makes the application: "For as Jonah was a sign
unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of Man be to this generation
... The men of Nineveh shall rise up in the judgment with this
generation, and shall condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of
Jonah, and, behold, a greater than Jonah is here." Christ was not
preached as a Saviour to the Gentile world till He had died and risen
from the dead. The Greeks who inquired after Him (John 12) received no
answer. But the Lord spoke of Himself at that time as the corn of wheat
which was to die to bring forth the abundant fruit. Christ died for the
sins of His people Israel, "for that nation," but He also died as a
member of the nation, from which He came according to the flesh, so that
He might rise and become the Saviour of the Gentiles. Christ preached as
having died for our sins, buried and risen on the third day, is the true
gospel and carries with it the power of God in the salvation of sinners.

     2. As to the Nation. The third day is the day of Israel's spiritual
and national resurrection. When that day comes converted Israel will be,
according to God's gifts and calling, a holy nation, a nation of
priestly functions, a kingdom of priests. They are then fit to show
forth the Lord and His glory, and to bring the message, not of judgment,
but of life and glory, to the nations of heathendom. The statement in
the New Century Bible quoted above is quite correct in one particular--
that "Jonah did what no prophet, no apostle, what Christ Himself never
did"--that never a day's preaching brought a vast strange city to
repentance. And we might add that no preaching today, during this age,
can ever bring such results. The case is unique; it never happened again,
that a man who was disobedient, who turned against the divine commission,
became a castaway, was miraculously preserved and delivered, led a great
world city to God and to true repentance. But if we take into
consideration the fact that this true history is a prophecy, all these
invented higher critical difficulties vanish altogether. When the nation
is reinstated in the land, filled with the Spirit, they will fulfill
their calling and go forth in bringing the message to the nations of the
world. Then Matthew 28:19 will be accomplished. Then and not before will
the world be converted, and all the nations will be joined in the
kingdom to Israel, His kingdom people.

     And as for repenting Nineveh there came a day of joy and gladness,
as animal creation in that city ceased its lowing and groaning, so will
come the day of joy and gladness for this poor world, "in that day" when
even groaning creation will be delivered of its groans and moans.

                              CHAPTER 4

                  Jonah's Discontent and Correction

     1. Jonah's discontent (4:1-3)
     2. The correction (4:4-11)

     Verses 1-3. All that had happened displeased Jonah exceedingly and
he was very angry. Did he feel that he had lost his prestige as a
prophet, having announced the overthrow of Nineveh, when it did not
happen? What he feared had come true; God had been merciful to this
great city and they were now enjoying what he considered Israel's
exclusive inheritance. Instead of rejoicing in the great exhibition of
God's mercy towards such a wicked city, he was angry. Like Elijah, in
the hour of despondency he requests to die. "Therefore, now, O LORD,
take, I beseech Thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die
than to live." The trouble with Jonah was that he thought only of
himself, and, as another has said, "the horrid selfishness of his heart
hides from him the God of grace, faithful in His love for His helpless

     Verses 4-11. The Lord God who had been so merciful to Nineveh is
now merciful to His angry servant the Prophet. "Doest thou well to be
angry?" How great is the patience and kindness of the Lord, even towards
them who fail! Jonah leaves the saved city evidently in disgust, and
finds on the east side a place where he constructed a booth and sat
there waiting to see what would become of the city. He evidently
expected still an act of judgment. Then comes the lesson. The Lord God
who had prepared a fish to swallow the disobedient prophet now prepared
a gourd to provide a shade for him. This gourd, a quipayon, is a very
common plant in Palestine. The Creator whose creation is so wonderful,
manifested the Creator's power in raising up this plant, for the relief
of His servant, in a sudden manner. And Jonah was exceedingly glad. Then
God prepared a worm which destroyed the gourd. When the morning came and
the sun beat upon the head of the prophet he fainted, and once more
wished in himself to die. Alas! if the prophet had been in the right
place before the Lord he would have accepted the gourd as evidence of
His loving care, and when the worm destroyed the plant so that it
withered he would have equally acknowledged his Creator-God and not have murmured. He might have
said with Job, "The LORD gave,
the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD." Jonah in his
selfish impatience found fault with God. It is still the common thing
amongst professing Christians.

     And when God asked him, "Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd?"
the poor finite creature of the dust answered the Creator, "I do well to
be angry, even unto death." Then comes the lesson. Not God, Elohim, the
name of Him as Creator, speaks, but it is Jehovah, the Lord: "Thou hast
had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither
madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night: and
should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than six
score thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and
their left; and also much cattle?" If Jonah felt pity and was angry
because of a small vine he had not planted nor made to grow, should not
God with greater right have mercy upon His creatures, whom He created
and sustained? Jonah is silenced; he could not reply. The last word
belongs to Jehovah, who thus demonstrated that in His infinite
compassion He embraces not Israel alone, but all His creation, the
Gentile world and even animal creation.

     "Most touching and beautiful is the last verse of the book, in
which God displays the force and supreme necessity of His love; which
(although the threatenings of His justice are heard, and must needs be
heard and even executed if man continues in rebellion) abides in the
repose of that perfect goodness which nothing can alter, and which
seizes the opportunity of displaying itself, whenever man allows Him, so
to speak, to bless him--the repose of an affection that nothing can
escape, that observes everything, in order to act according to its own
undisturbed nature--the repose of God Himself, essential to His
perfection, on which depends all our blessing and all our peace"
(Synopsis of the Bible).

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