Hall of Faith: Jonah, the Rebellious

We all know the story of Jonah and the Whale. However, the story of how Jonah ended up

Jonah ran from God’s command

in the whale is not as well known.

The name Jonah means dove.

“Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.” {Jonah 1:1-2}

Wikipedia stated that Nineveh was an ancient Assyrian city of Upper Mesopotamia. The city was located on the outskirts of Mosul, which is located in modern day Irap.

A storm came upon the ship Jonah was on…

Nineveh was the largest city in the world for about fifty years, until it was overrun by a variety of other groups in the bitter civil war the Battle of Ninevah in 612 BC.

Jonah clearly did not want to do what the Lord commanded. “But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.” {Jonah 1:3}

But the Lord would not be deterred, because he “sent a great wind into the sea.” {Jonah

He was thrown overboard


The men on the ship with Jonah became afraid and came to wake him up. They men cast lots to determine where the trouble was coming and it fell on Jonah. The men were afraid, but Jonah was willing to sacrifice himself for them.

“And he said unto them, 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.” {Jonah 1:12}

The men cast Jonah into the sea and “the sea ceased from her raging.” {Jonah 1:15}

For three days he was in the belly of a whale

But God was not finished with Jonah. “Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” {Jonah 1:17}

Jonah was swallowed up in the belly of the whale. He had plenty of time to think about God’s call and his actions while in the whale.

“Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God out of the fish’s belly, And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.” {Jonah 2:1-2}

Then the whale vomited him out

Jonah communed with God and the whale “vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.” {Jonah 2:10}

One would imagine that the first thing Jonah wanted upon returning to dry land was a bath. Imagine how stinky he must have been after being in the belly of the whale for three days and nights.

“And the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.” {Jonah 3:1-2}

Jonah went to Nineveh

We’ve seen this request before. The last time, Jonah rebelled and ended up in the belly of a whale. How did he react this time?

“So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord.” {Jonah 3:3}

When Jonah arrived in Nineveh, which was a three day journey, he told the people they would be overthrown in 40 days. The people listened to him and fasted and put on sackcloth. Even the king proclaimed that this should be a time of fasting. {Jonah 3:4-9}

“And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.” {Jonah 3:10}

Nineveh was the capital of Assytia

One would think that Jonah would be happy that the people turned from their evil ways and to God. But we are told in chapter 4 that Jonah had a completely different reaction.

“But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry…Therefore now, O Lord, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.” {Jonah 4:1-3}

God allowed him to be angry. “Then said the Lord, Doest thou well to be angry?” {Jonah 4:4}

So, Jonah went to a quiet place out of the city and found a spot to rest. The Lord prepared a covering for Jonah, which remained until the next morning when it was destroyed. {Jonah 4:5-9}

The book of Jonah begins and ends with the words of the Lord. “Then said the Lord, Thou

The people worshiped idols

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 sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?” {Jonah 4:10-11}

The only other mention of Jonah appears in the New Testament, from Jesus himself:

“For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here.” {Matthew 12:38-41} The same words are also quoted in Luke 11:29-32.

Jonah boldly spoke of destruction

Clearly, Jesus was paralleling himself to Jonah and the people of his day to those of Nineveh. By the time of Jesus birth, Nineveh had long ago fallen in the Battle of Nineveh. How long the battle happened after Jonah appeared in Nineveh we do not know.

So, what lessons can we learn from Jonah?

  1. Jonah could not out run God’s will

  2. Jonah was chased by God

  3. Jonah was willing to sacrifice himself for the well being of his boatmates

  4. Jonah turned to God in his time of need

  5. Jonah learned from his mistakes

  6. Jonah expressed human emotions

  7. Jonah’s time in the whale was a parallel to the coming Messiah

The people of Nineveh repented and turned to God



Jonah shows that he is far from perfect. We see rebellion and anger displayed in his actions, which are often not shared in other Biblical accounts and characters.

However, Jonah turned his rebellion into obedience for God.

How have you turned your rebellion into obedience?


Jonah rebelled from God's command until he ended up in the belly of a whale #HallofFaith Share on X

Pictures from FreeBibleImages.org

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