Jonah 1

** Jonah was a native of Galilee, #2Ki 14:25|. His miraculous

deliverance from out of the fish, rendered him a type of our

blessed Lord, who mentions it, so as to show the certain truth

of the narrative. All that was done was easy to the almighty

power of the Author and Sustainer of life. This book shows us,

by the example of the Ninevites, how great are the Divine

forbearance and long-suffering towards sinners. It shows a most

striking contrast between the goodness and mercy of God, and the

rebellion, impatience, and peevishness of his servant; and it

will be best understood by those who are most acquainted with

their own hearts.

* Jonah, sent to Nineveh, flees to Tarshish. (1-3) He is stayed

by a tempest. (4-7) His discourse with the mariners. (8-12) He

is cast into the sea, and miraculously preserved. (13-17)

#1-3. It is sad to think how much sin is committed in great

cities. Their wickedness, as that of Nineveh, is a bold and open

affront to God. Jonah must go at once to Nineveh, and there, on

the spot, cry against the wickedness of it. Jonah would not go.

Probably there are few among us who would not have tried to

decline such a mission. Providence seemed to give him an

opportunity to escape; we may be out of the way of duty, and yet

may meet with a favourable gale. The ready way is not always the

right way. See what the best of men are, when God leaves them to

themselves; and what need we have, when the word of the Lord

comes to us, to have the Spirit of the Lord to bring every

thought within us into obedience.4-7 God sent a pursuer after Jonah, even a mighty tempest. Sin

brings storms and tempests into the soul, into the family, into

churches and nations; it is a disquieting, disturbing thing.

Having called upon their gods for help, the sailors did what

they could to help themselves. Oh that men would be thus wise

for their souls, and would be willing to part with that wealth,

pleasure, and honour, which they cannot keep without making

shipwreck of faith and a good conscience, and ruining their

souls for ever! Jonah was fast asleep. Sin is stupifying, and we

are to take heed lest at any time our hearts are hardened by the

deceitfulness of it. What do men mean by sleeping on in sin,

when the word of God and the convictions of their own

consciences, warn them to arise and call on the Lord, if they

would escape everlasting misery? Should not we warn each other

to awake, to arise, to call upon our God, if so be he will

deliver us? The sailors concluded the storm was a messenger of

Divine justice sent to some one in that ship. Whatever evil is

upon us at any time, there is a cause for it; and each must

pray, Lord, show me wherefore thou contendest with me. The lot

fell upon Jonah. God has many ways of bringing to light hidden

sins and sinners, and making manifest that folly which was

thought to be hid from the eyes of all living.
8-12 Jonah gave an account of his religion, for that was his

business. We may hope that he told with sorrow and shame,

justifying God, condemning himself, and explaining to the

mariners what a great God Jehovah is. They said to him, Why hast

thou done this? If thou fearest the God that made the sea and

the dry land, why wast thou such a fool as to think thou couldst

flee from his presence? If the professors of religion do wrong,

they will hear it from those who make no such profession. When

sin has raised a storm, and laid us under the tokens of God's

displeasure, we must consider what is to be done to the sin that

raised the storm. Jonah uses the language of true penitents, who

desire that none but themselves may fare the worse for their

sins and follies. Jonah sees this to be the punishment of his

iniquity, he accepts it, and justifies God in it. When

conscience is awakened, and a storm raised, nothing will turn it

into a calm but parting with the sin that caused the

disturbance. Parting with our money will not pacify the

conscience, the Jonah must be thrown overboard.
13-17 The mariners rowed against wind and tide, the wind of

God's displeasure, the tide of his counsel; but it is in vain to

think of saving ourselves any other way than by destroying our

sins. Even natural conscience cannot but dread blood-guiltiness.

And when we are led by Providence God does what he pleases, and

we ought to be satisfied, though it may not please us. Throwing

Jonah into the sea put an end to the storm. God will not afflict

for ever, He will only contend till we submit and turn from our

sins. Surely these heathen mariners will rise up in judgment

against many called Christians, who neither offer prayers when

in distress, nor thanksgiving for signal deliverances. The Lord

commands all creatures, and can make any of them serve his

designs of mercy to his people. Let us see this salvation of the

Lord, and admire his power, that he could thus save a drowning

man, and his pity, that he would thus save one who was running

from him, and had offended him. It was of the Lord's mercies

that Jonah was not consumed. Jonah was alive in the fish three

days and nights: to nature this was impossible, but to the God

of nature all things are possible. Jonah, by this miraculous

preservation, was made a type of Christ; as our blessed Lord

himself declared, #Mt 12:40|.

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