Jonah - Week 14

Getting Angry
• How did you see your mom
and dad handle their anger
as a child growing up?
• What things makes you
angry? Why?
• What do you do when you
are angry?
• Describe an incident where
you were wounded by
someone else’s anger
• How can reflecting on angry
feelings be a healthy way of
dealing with anger?
Quick Review of Week 13 ….
Jonah’s Preaching to
(Jonah 3:3b-9)
Jonah 3:3b-5
3:3b Now
Nineveh was an exceedingly
great city, three days' journey in breadth.
4Jonah began to go into the city, going a
day's journey. And he called out,
“Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be
overthrown!” 5 And the people of Nineveh believed God. They
called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them
to the least of them.
Jonah’s message to the Ninevites as recorded in verse 4 is very
short―only five words in the original Hebrew! Do you think
this was the prophet’s actual “sermon” or are these words
meant to serve as a summary of his message? Explain
Which part of this proclamation is Law?
Which part of this proclamation is Gospel?
What happens when only the Law is preached?
What happens when only the Gospel is preached?
“…and Nineveh shall be overthrown” (haphak)
Changed or Destroyed?
• Jonah says in verse 4 Nineveh shall be “overthrown” (haphak in Hebrew)
• Words that derive from haphak frequently mean destruction
• In some contexts though, haphak indicates a radical transformation
from one extreme to another
Genesis 19:24-25 – “Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur
and fire from the LORD out of heaven. And he overthrew (haphak) those
cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what
grew on the ground.”
Hosea 11:8 – “How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I hand you over, O
Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like
Zeboiim? My heart recoils (haphak) within me; my compassion grows
warm and tender.”
How did the Ninevites understand the word haphak in Jonah’s message?
How do you think Jonah intended the word haphak to be understood?
Based on the range of meaning possible, what might the LORD have
intended by the word haphak in Jonah’s message?
Explain how the word haphak shows the way God works in our lives as
Christians through the application of Law and Gospel
Prepping the Battlefield
• At the time of Jonah's visit (c. 780-760 BC), the NeoAssyrian Empire as a whole was unusually troubled
• Political Instability: Once Adad-Nirari III was succeeded
by Shalmaneser IV (782-773), the Assyrian king no
longer had direct control over the totality of the empire,
parts of which had come under the control of several
different regional officials
• This state of affairs continued during the nominal
reigns of Assur-Dan III (772-755) and Assur-Nirari V
• In addition, there were a number of famines, revolts
and plagues recorded in Assyrian records, events whose
evil portent was believed to be clearly indicated by
accompanying solar eclipses
Evil Portents?
• Official government documents record a plague in 765,
revolts in 763-759, a solar eclipse in 763 and famine from
765 to 759
• Reports of eclipses in Neo-Assyrian documents were
typically followed by such statements as:
"the king will be deposed and killed and a worthless fellow
seize the throne“
"the king will die, rain from heaven will flood the land“
"there will be famine”
''a deity will strike the king and fire will consume the land“
• This state of affairs would have made both rulers and
subjects unusually attuned to the message of a visiting
prophet, as the book of Jonah bears out
Assyrian Beliefs and Practices
• Once an evil omen was witnessed, a king would try to
avoid his anticipated death or the hardship
announced in the omen by putting a substitute king
on the throne for a certain time (sar puhi ritual)
• The (real) ruler took the status of a farmer or
commoner but remained within the palace
• The substitute himself was typically a person of low
standing (examples include a prisoner of war, a deathrow inmate, a political enemy of the king, a gardener,
and even a simpleton)
• For a while (maximum duration of the replacement
period was 100 days) this individual lived a life of
luxury, since he had really to look the part of the king
whose death the eclipse or ominous event portended
Sar Puhi Ritual
• Robes, food, a significant entourage, residing in the
palace with a queen and other royal privileges were his
to enjoy (but only for a while)
• Once the proscribed period was over, the substitute
king would then be killed with the hope that the
omen's force would thus be exhausted
• Interestingly, to make sure that the omens would
irrevocably remain affecting the substitute, the
document where they were written was physically
attached to his garments
• It’s possible that the king of Nineveh removed his royal
robes not simply as part of his mourning, but also in
order to leave them to the substitute
Jonah 3:3b-5
3:3b Now
Nineveh was an exceedingly great city,
three days' journey in breadth. 4Jonah began to
go into the city, going a day's journey. And he
called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be
overthrown!” 5 And the people of Nineveh
believed God. They called for a fast and put on
sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least
of them.
How did the people of Nineveh respond to the preaching of
• “The greatest to the least of them” is a merism for the entire
• They believed “God” (Elohim) – saving faith or
acknowledgment of the truth of the prophet’s words?
• They produced fruits of repentance (called for a fast and put
on sackcloth)?
What was the king of Nineveh’s personal response to Jonah’s
preaching? What is the meaning of each action?
• The King takes four immediate steps:
1. He rises from his throne (abdicates his authority)
2. Removes his robe (symbol of his glory and power)
3. Covers himself with sackcloth (sign of grief and humility)
4. Sat in ash heap (new dwelling and self-negation)
 The king is “overthrown” from his throne and dignified
After the “overthrow” of the king’s life before God, what
further step does he take to reinforce the people’s response?
• He and his nobles issue a royal proclamation that:
1. Intensifies the general fast
2. Expands the sackcloth of repentance
3. Commands all to cry out to the God of Israel
4. Commands all to repent from their evil ways and violence
5. Offers the possibility of hope and God’s compassion
Nineveh during time of Jonah
… Now Week 14
Herman Melville, Moby Dick
“Towards thee I roll, thou all-consuming but
unconquering whale: to the last I grapple with
thee; from hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's
sake I spit my last breath at thee.”
Jonah 3:6-9
6 The
word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his
throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in
ashes. 7 And he issued a proclamation and published through
Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man
nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink
water, 8 but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them
call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from
the violence that is in his hands. 9 Who knows? God may turn and
relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.”
If Matthew
said was
shall here.
be seeks
of the
is surprising
evil days
any reason
to hope
the mercy
a he
but about
it except
the sign
of theinprophet
For justof
Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly
in the existence
Man be three days and three
• nights
that this
prayers (v. 8)
in God
the heart
individuals for
sins (v.8)
• In
way was
a sign tofrom
the Ninevites?
does Jesus
• explain
God may
and not
about judgment as a result of the
of this
people’s repentance (v. 9)
• God had fierce anger as a result of the sins that the people had
committed (v. 9)
Jonah as Sign
• He came to Nineveh as a man raised
from the dead; his miraculous
deliverance clothed his whole
ministry with divine approval …
Jonah was a man sent from God
• This God had demonstrated both his
justice and his mercy in all that he
had done with Jonah; therefore,
before he ever uttered a word,
Jonah was a sign and wonder
among these people
• He was a sign of the certain wrath of
God against sin but also a sign that a
sinner can be spared, as Jonah had
Evidence that Ninevites Truly Repented
Biblical repentance includes at least three vital elements, each of which
appears to be present in the case of Nineveh
1. Repentance requires a sorrowful mourning over sin
• False repentance grieves only over the consequences of sin; true
repentance grieves over the sin itself
• We see the Ninevites' sorrow for sin in three ways:
• They fasted – fasting has several biblical purposes, one of which is
a public expression of penitence
• Wore sackcloth as expression lament, grief, and humiliation
• Public display of self-humiliation when king took off his robes,
do the with
sat their
in ashes
2. Repentance
an actual
How also
do the
• Repentance is a change of mind issuing in a change of life
• Nineveh was notorious for violence, so its king acknowledges the
evil of their ways and calls the people to repudiate their chief and
God?his evil way and from the
violence that is in his hands”)
3. Repentance culminates in a turning to God in renewed faith
• The king summoned the people to pray to the God of Jonah for
mercy (“let them call out mightily to God”)
Ninevites as True Believers
• The Ninevites “believed God”
• They did not presume upon God … they did not know
the outcome of their situation, yet believed that there
was still hope that God would be gracious to them
• Matthew 12:41: “The men of Nineveh will rise up at the
judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they
repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold,
something greater than Jonah is here.”
• This statement by our Lord suggests that at least some
Ninevites became true believers with the result that
they will be present at the final judgment condemning
those who rejected Jesus’ preaching
• In the light of what’s been said so far about Nineveh's
repentance, it might seem difficult to deny that they
came to believe in Israel's God and showed by their
actions that their belief was genuine
• While such an understanding is possible, we must be
cautious in drawing conclusions about the extent of
Nineveh's repentance
• While the vast majority of Biblical scholars view the
Ninevites’ conversion as true and valid, there are
some (including Reformed writers) who are more
Evidence that Ninevites’ Repentance Incomplete
• The message preached by Jonah did not contain the
information necessary for such a change of heart … the
Ninevites never hear the name Yahweh, Torah or monotheism
• No language of forgiveness or pardon appears in the story; no
hope or avenue of escape is offered – God relents, but the
Ninevites' prior sins remain unpunished
• The city believed God's word through Jonah, and abandoned
their violence and wickedness in the hope that God would
spare them; this is a striking moral reform, but there is nothing
that requires us to say it was more than that
• While fasting, mourning, putting aside violence, and belief in
God's word are evident, the Ninevites’ reform makes no
mention of putting away their other gods
• There is no mention of any fearing, honoring, worshiping or
even recognizing Yahweh (in contrast to statements of
converting pagans such as Ruth or Namaan)
Ninevite Response: Partial Repentance
• Further, it is clearly stated in 3:10 not that God saw their faith,
nor that God saw that they sought Him with their whole heart,
but rather, that God saw their works
• While one cannot deny the importance of proper works as a
major step in repentance, this does not indicate a full
conversion to Yahweh
• Their repentance is similar to that of Ahab in 1 Kings 21:27 (“he
tore his clothes and put sackcloth on his flesh and fasted and
lay in sackcloth and went about dejectedly”) … his actions
were sufficient to gain only a postponement of judgment
• Jonah came to Nineveh in the decades before the fall of Israel;
however, the Nineveh that repented under Jonah was very
soon involved once again in the exercise of imperialistic
violence, and that against Jonah’s very nation!
Thus, Nineveh believed God, turned from her sin in some
degree, but did not fully turn to God … her repentance was
partial and incomplete
Matthew 12:41-42:
“The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this
generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of
Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. The
queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this
generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the
earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something
greater than Solomon is here.”
• Does this passage require that Ninevah’s
repentance is unto salvation?
• Note that the Queen of Sheba doesn’t need
to be a true believer in the Savior for her to
condemn God's covenant people for rejecting
his wisdom
• Jonah did not proclaim Yahweh to those who
did not know him, but that the supreme God
Elohim was about to show his power and judgment; there is no
indication that Jonah mentioned the God of Israel to the Ninevites
Numbers 20:12:
“And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not
believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of
Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land
that I have given them.”
• This verse has the same Hebrew conjunction [“believed God”]
stated about the Ninevites in Jonah 3:5
• In Numbers 20, this phrase implies no more than that Moses and
Aaron believed of the message … that is, they accepted it as true
• By analogy, the Ninevites may have just believed that what
Jonah said was a true statement
• The Ninevites “remained, by all accounts, the same polytheistic,
syncretistic pantheists they had been all along” (Douglas Stuart,
Word Bible Commentary of Jonah)
of for
our and
to turn away
from our
sins and
others as evidence
of genuine
turn toward God?
• An awareness that God Himself is convicting us (v. 5) and a real
turning from our sin, in heart and in action (v. 8)
• Visible signs (here, fasting and changing clothing) are not
necessarily bad, and may actually be very good, but they are not
crucial to real repentance. Repentance is internal before it is
external; but internal repentance will show itself externally.
• It's important to notice that the Ninevites don't earn God's
compassion by their actions. God's mercy is still undeserved: it is
because of His awesome nature, not because of our repentance
that sinners are forgiven when they turn back to Him.
Jonah 3:10
When God saw what they did, how they
turned from their evil way, God relented of the
disaster that he had said he would do to them,
and he did not do it.
How does the narrator summarize the Ninevites' response to
Jonah's message?
• God saw their acts of repentance and that they had turned
from their evil ways
What did God do and why?
Jonah 3:10
When God saw what they did, how they
turned from their evil way, God relented of the
disaster that he had said he would do to them,
and he did not do it.
• The Hebrew word ra’ah occurs twice in this verse
• In the first occurrence, the ESV translates it as “evil”; in the
second, the ESV translates it as “disaster”
What is the connection between the Ninevites’ ra’ah (evil) and
God’s ra’ah (disaster)?
In what sense is it incorrect to understand God’s ra’ah as “evil?”
In what sense is it correct to understand God’s ra’ah as “evil?”
Jonah 3:10
When God saw what they did, how they
turned from their evil way, God relented of the
disaster that he had said he would do to them,
and he did not do it.
• The Hebrew root verb nacham can mean “to relent,”
“to pity,” “to feel grief,” or “to have compassion”
• Forms of nacham are often used in Old Testament
texts that depict God threatening punishment but
later relenting
Nacham: Relent, Have Compassion
Joel 2:12-14– “Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me
with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with
mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.”
Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he
relents over disaster. Who knows whether he will not turn
and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, a grain offering
and a drink offering for the LORD your God?”
What from the narrative of the Ninevites’ repentance in Jonah 3 are
echoed in this text from Joel?
Nacham often implies an action (relent) motivated by an emotion
(pity). How does this text from Joel show us that it is characteristic of
God to relent because of the pity He feels for those who turn to Him in
According to Joel, what does God often do when He relents of disaster?
What does this passage teach us about Christ and His work?
Nacham: Relent, Have Compassion
Numbers 23:19 – “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of
man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he
not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?”
What do we learn about God’s nature from this verse?
Does this verse contradict what Joel taught about the God who
relents? Explain your answer.
If God had destroyed Nineveh after all, would that decision
have been a just one? Explain your answer.
Case Study: Repressive Government
• It was one of the most repressive governments
on earth, forbidding even the foreign aid that
came with no strings attached
• Any kind of speech was strictly forbidden, and
economic activity was highly regulated
• While the rest of the world was advancing and
growing more independent in trade and
technology, the citizens of this
country seemed to have been
stuck in a pre-industrial,
agrarian world
Subsequent Results
• But global headlines one morning reported perhaps
the most stunning policy reversal in history
• Prompted by no protests, strikes, military action,
assassination, or any other form of political unrest,
the nation’s leaders decided to abandon
authoritarianism and begin establishing a free society
• Pundits immediately assumed an economic motive,
but local sources reported rumors of a religious
movement sweeping the country
or unlikely
seem to you?
to focusexample
Do you think God wants or plans to initiate national revivals in
you as
would likely focus more on natural
the do
He the
did in
and political
To what extent
do youexplanations
pray for Himthan
to dospiritual
The Structure of the Book of Jonah
 Scene 1: Jonah’s First Call
 Scene 2: The Storm at Sea
 Scene 3: Jonah’s Deliverance & Prayer
(1:17 – 2:10)
 Scene 4: Jonah’s Second Call
 Scene 5: Jonah’s Preaching Converts
Nineveh & Yahweh Changes
His Verdict
 Scene 6: Jonah’s Response to Yahweh’s (4:1-4)
Change of Verdict to Save Nineveh
 Scene 7: Yahweh’s Provisions and
Jonah’s Response
Introduction to Jonah 4
• In contrast to the first three chapters, Jonah 4
features a large amount of dialogue
• This is intended to reveal climactically the
character of both Jonah and Yahweh through
their words
• Jonah’s words and Yahweh’s words are split
with mathematical precision
• They each get absolutely equal “air time”
since each utters a total of 47 Hebrew words
Jonah 4 Dialogue
A Jonah speaks 39 Hebrew words to Yahweh in 4:2-3
B Yahweh speaks 3 Hebrew words in 4:4
B’ Jonah speaks 3 Hebrew words in 4:8
C God speaks 5 Hebrew words in 4:9a
C’ Jonah speaks 5 Hebrew words in 4:9b
A’ Yahweh speaks 39 Hebrews words in 4:10-11
Resenting God
• How is it possible to serve God and end up resenting
• There is a particular darkness that sometimes comes
to those who work hardest in the Lord’s service
• Resentment towards God is the special temptation of
mature believers who serve Him well
• The more you do for God, the easier it is
to feel that God owes you
• So if you stretch yourself in serving God,
don’t be surprised when this strange
darkness sneaks up on you
• You will encounter this trial, and you need
to know how to deal with it
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