Jonah – Part 1

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.” (Jonah 1:3)

Jonah, among many other old testament prophets had two missions. One was to preach repentance to the people and the other to prophecy the coming of the Messiah. Jonah’s mission however was unique because it was not towards God’s people, the Jews, but to the gentile people of Nineveh, which was the capital of the Assyrian kingdom. God wanted to preach to them the word of life, because he could see that they were ready to repent and he ordered Jonah to go and preach the word. 

“But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord…” (Jonah 1:3)

Jonah however was a strict Jewish man and was not happy with the inclusion of the gentiles to be God’s people as well. He did not want their salvation and he chose to escape from the mission, and from God’s instructions. Because he was not able to love the people of Nineveh, and was not happy with their saving, he was not able to listen to God. Similarly when we are not able to love others, we might be deaf towards God’s voice and his instructions in our life. Failure to love can lead us astray, choosing the wrong path just like Jonah who chose to flee to Tarshish by boat, instead of going to Nineveh where he was sent. 

But the Lord sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship was about to be broken up.” (Jonah 1:4)

God speaks to us in many different ways however, and on his way to Tarshish, God spoke to Jonah through a storm. Jonah was in danger, and those around him on the ship were in danger as well. When we stray from the word of God, we are bound to run into danger for ourselves and for those around us. 

Then the mariners were afraid; and every man cried out to his god, and threw the cargo that was in the ship into the sea, to lighten the load. But Jonah had gone down into the lowest parts of the ship, had lain down, and was fast asleep.” (Jonah 1:5)

Sometimes when we make big mistakes, we act as if nothing happened by “sleeping” or running away trying to justify our conscience. Jonah was sleeping, running away from his problems, while the mariners were afraid and praying for the storm to calm down. The pagan captain asked Jonah who he was, where he was from and why he was not praying to his God for their survival. 

So he said to them, “I am a Hebrew; and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” (Jonah 1:9)

Even while running away from God, Jonah was still preaching and confessing the name of God as the only true God. He confessed his sin faithfully to the sailors and told them how he ran away from God when he was called to go to Nineveh. In doing this he unintentionally converted the men on the ship to believe in God. 

And he said to them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will become calm for you. For I know that this great tempest is because of me.” (Jonah 1:12)

When his conscience was awakened, and he realized the disturbance he had caused for the innocent sailors, he offered himself up to perish in the sea so that they may live. Just like Jonah, our Lord Jesus also offered himself up on the cross that we may live. The difference however is that Jonah gave himself up for his own sin, while Jesus gave himself up for our sins.  

So they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging.” (Jonah 1:15)

  • Summary from a Sermon of Father Daoud Lamei

Image from Moody Publishers /

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