Its amazing to see so many of you on board with the #JonahChallenge! Even those that haven’t done the previous Bible Challenges we welcome you! For those that still don’t know what it is, don’t worry!
The Jonah Challenge is a FOUR day challenge, where we read the 4 chapters in the book of Jonah in the Bible! It is not just about reading, I would love for us to share our understanding of what we have read with each other, so as you read, feel free to hashtag #JonahChallenge if you have twitter. In addition, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your notes for each chapter, or a summary and I will put it up on this blog page! The book of Jonah really focuses on our attitude to God, disobedience, God’s mercy and our carnal fallacy. Especially in the area of OBEDIENCE which I believe is so key in really getting the most out of our Christian walk and abiding in God’s will for us! Some points I haven’t touched on in my summary are covered in everyone else’s contributions, OR I have purposely left out to encourage you guys to touch on! So Lets Go!
Bible Challenge MOTTO: The Bible is JUICY. The Bible is LIFE. The Bible is for YOU!
Who knows where the whale vomited Jonah to…all we know is that his disobedience made things so much longer! He had to make a 3 day trip from his location to Nineveh. We see the number 3 again…hmm! See the Day 2 blog for more on the significance of the number 3.
Why was Nineveh a great city?
Why was Nineveh a great city? Was is great in size or specifically ‘great to God’? I believe it was both! More so the latter, the city must have been great to God for him to want them to repent and not perish, even to the extent of sending His anointed prophet by all means necessary…be it a whale!
Actions speak louder…Faith without works is dead (James 2:14)!
The people of Nineveh ‘believed’ God (verse 5), but that belief wasn’t enough, they fasted corporately and humbled themselves before God, physically showing their repentance and repentant hearts by putting on sackcloths.
The KING of this great city also took part in the fasting, humbling himself by removing his robe and sitting in ashes. He also used his authority to instruct everyone in the land to fast, call out to God, and put on sackcloths.
The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will. (Proverbs 21:1)
In Verse 9, the phrases ‘who knows’, ‘God may’, these words show that they were unsure if their action of repentance would have any positive outcome. But they still carried on…faith is a beautiful thing.
CHALLENGE!: Why did the King give instructions for ‘beasts/animals’ to put on sackcloths as well?
Feel free to tweet your thoughts about it!
God’s grace existed in the Old Testament
Contrary to popular belief and lack of studying the Bible, we can see that God’s grace & mercy existed in the Old Testament!
Grace is unmerited favour. Favour is receiving something you did not work for. Mercy is the withholding of what you do deserve! God’s mercy is evident in this chapter!
Your obedience can save a nation. Repentance can save a nation.
For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? (Romans 10:13, 14 NKJV)
And how shall they hear without a preacher???? Please ask yourself this question. Ask others this question. How will people hear about God if you do not tell them? How will people hear about God if we don’t support our missionaries & evangelists? How will people hear about God and be saved if you don’t grow in the faith, obey God and speak up? How??
See how a city was saved because Jonah finally heeded to God’s instruction. If he really resisted…the blood of the city would be on his hands, he would be held accountable. The people of Ninevah would have perished for lack of knowledge! But thank God that wasn’t the case.
Understand that the things God tells us to do, the thing He considers to be our purpose has a greater impact. Purpose isn’t just for you! It’s for others to benefit from. You accomplishing your purpose is you being a point of provision for someone in ‘need’! You accomplishing your purpose and divine assignment is allowing someone to hear God’s word and get a chance to be saved! This was the case with Jonah, and I’ll give you an example using myself.
My Testimony – an example that you are part of!
These bible challenges that I’ve created have allowed me to really understand my purpose. The vision came way back in February this year, I wanted to study the book of Esther by myself, but something in me – the Holy Spirit, told me to share it and see who else would be interested in studying the book of Esther. Lo and behold so many wanted to join me, going from 10 people to 50 and over 100 in the very first bible challenge. Since then I’ve facilitated 5 more bible challenges, this one being the 6th, with more to come by God’s grace. 20,000 hits on my blog for these Bible Challenges! Isn’t God awesome!
When I hear testimonies of how the bible challenges have helped people get into reading the bible again and understanding it! How they’ve now been able to apply the word to their lives and seen major changes, I can only thank God for using me, social media and you all for being part of it!
What if I ignored the non-invasive instruction of the Holy Spirit? How many people would have missed out on really engaging with the word of God? How would I have missed our on learning so much from you all?
The truth is, if I wasn’t obedient to God, He would have easily used someone else, I am not irreplaceable.
Our obedience to God is so key. If you don’t want to obey God for yourself, please at least obey him for the people that will benefit from your obedience.
I love the change in verse 3 of this chapter compared to chapter 1.
1 : 3 – “But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshsish from God’s presence”.
3 : 3 – “So Jonah ‘arose’ & went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord”.
Jonah finally obeyed! He listened and actively took on God’s instructions. Did it have to take being in the belly of a fish? Probably, probably not.
This is what I believe he did for Jonah. Jonah didn’t have to say much, it seemed like God had gone ahead of him to soften the hearts of the people so they could be receptive to the message.
They immediately repented and asked for forgiveness. When God saw that they had turned from their evil ways, He was no longer angry with them. Jonah’s act of obedience had given some people a new lease of life. You don’t know who you can help or bring to Christ by simply obeying God’s instructions and sharing the gospel. The people of Nineveh obeyed and were saved from destruction. Obedience is better than sacrifice.
The last verse once again shows the beautiful attributes our God possesses. He is forgiving, merciful, gracious and loving! He desires that none should perish but all come to repentance (2 Peter 3: 9). All of this stemmed from His love for Nineveh. How beautiful. – Ebun (@JollyEbz) x
‘Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city’ – same mission statement, same order in Jonah 3:2 as in Jonah 1:2. However the action Jonah took was different. In 1:3, the bible says ‘Jonah rose up to flee…from the presence of the LORD.’ However in 3:3, we see that ‘Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD’.
This brings to mind something Nelson Mandela said in his book ‘Long Walk to Freedom’ – he said ‘There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.’ We see this in action in Jonah 3:2, 3! Where before Jonah heard the Word, received his mission and fled as far as he possibly could in the other direction in chapter 1, now we see Jonah taking the Word without rebuke or challenge, and just getting on with it in humble obedience! It shows how much Jonah had developed, how much he’d grown, how much he’d come to understand that you can run but you can’t hide from God, how a calling from God is an awesome privilege to be embraced and not dismissed! We see that over the course of a couple of chapters, Jonah has developed humility, his obedience has been nurtured. Sitting in the belly of the whale was not a punishment, but it was what many of us need – a place of solace and silence, to just STOP, and take stock of life, away from the noises of the world and the people around us, in order to GROW and be made ready for our mission in life!
When you take hold of your mission in life, and embrace it, everything falls into place. You begin to blossom, be set ablaze with the glory of God. Jonah, now walking in tandem with God, could now command the attention of Kings! (3, verse 6 and 7)
Jonah 3 also shows us on a grander scale that we all need a Word. Sometimes we plug along in life, oblivious to a message which we need at a particular time. The Ninevites were unaware that they were living contrary to the way of God, that their ways were bringing imminent doom their way. They needed a Word. A set Word, for a set time – Jermaine
There is so much to learn from this chapter. Firstly we can’t ignore the fact that the word of The Lord came to Jonah a second time. From this, I realised that when God sets us out for a purpose, nothing will deter Him from ensuring that we do what is required of us. He lets us have our little tantrum then repeats his instruction. It’s like He gives us the chance to be human, having doubts and fears, before asking us it get down to business. Our God really is much more understanding of human nature than we often care to remember: “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:9 NIV)
Second point is that Jonah obeyed the word of The Lord. So many of us go through pressing, trying times and when The Lord delivers us, instead of cultivating a heart of gratitude, we turn away in anger for the mere fact that we were allowed to suffer. This Jonah, the same guy that was in the belly of a fish, recognised that he had no right to hold anger towards God, seeing as he was the one who got himself into that situation. A lot of our suffering is self inflicted as we try to run from God. Once Jonah accepted his purpose it seemed quite easy for him to follow through. The key realisation that happens in this book is that Jonah realised that he is a man under authority. From reading on in Matthew we can see that it pleases God when we humbly accept this fact:
The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. (Matthew 8:8-10 NIV)
Jonah’s commitment to his task is evident in the fact that he goes a days journey into a city where his message should be hated. He doesn’t preach from the edge of the city so that he can turn and run if it gets hard. No, he really gets stuck in.
I think this chapter is very important for the evangelist. As Christians we were all commissioned by Christ to go and spread the gospel message (Matthew 28:19-20) therefore we all have something to learn. We often think that we are inadequate to convert people because we have been through periods where we doubt and challenge God, phases where we deny Him and are disobedient but the truth is that we are all competent to do God’s work – “and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth” (verse 5). This same Jonah from chapter 1, was able to save the souls of a whole city, despite his actions before he started preaching. When we realise this, that we are personally and individually chosen, we can be encouraged that God knows who he has chosen and better still, has confidence in who he has chosen.
Lastly, for all of those who are going the wrong way, backsliding or haven’t yet accepted Jesus as their Lord and Saviour, don’t give up. It is never too late. If God can have compassion on a city He had marked for destruction, then he can definitely have compassion on people who are labelled as off the rails. So all in all, keep sharing the gospel, keep praying for the ‘lost souls’ and remember that God set you apart for a purpose so don’t shy away. God bless – @ThatUgandanGirl
Jonah 3:3 – the same 3 days he was in the whale he could have seen the whole of Nineveh! Well that’s funny. Disobedience = 3days in a big fish & obedience = 3days seeing a whole city
3:5&6 – It seems as if everyone including the king realised the importance of this message. Also the fact that Jonah was so slow to deliver the message yet this whole city were so quick to accept it. Imagine if he never went to Nineveh, a load of willing people would have just been destroyed none the wiser.
3:9 – This again mentions God’s grace & mercy just like in Jonah 2.
3.10 – Again like in Jonah 2, God took back what he did. However it’s only after the action of the people involved did what they did. For example in Jonah 2 God after Jonah prayed, God ordered the big fish to spit him out. And in Jonah 3, after the people turned from their evil way and stopped the violence God changed his decision. – @Simply_Shahnee
This chapter of Jonah continues in the theme of the sovereignty of God to do His perfect will, but it also shows us that salvation was no different in the days of Jonah than it is today. It is by grace, through faith that the Ninevites were saved.
We do not have to have full understanding in order to serve God; we simply must be willing. God has a plan for each and everyone of us, so instead of trying to figure out the way he is working just have faith so can use you more- “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding”- Proverbs 3:5. God told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” In response Paul wrote, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong”.
God is proof of our repentance of sin. God never set out to form a legalistic society that would “not sin;” instead He wants people to do His work. “So whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” -1 Corinthians 10:31. I’ve told some people all the time to quit worrying about what might be sin and focus instead on how what you are doing glorifies God. If all we do glorifies God then we are not in sin.
Even the Ninevites recognized that a return to God would bring blessing upon them and deliver them from wrath. We never have committed too much sin, or any sin so heinous that God will reject us. If we repent in sackcloth and ashes, in mourning over our sin, and repent of sin, God will deliver us. – @Toniiys_
– God is merciful. He gave Jonah a second chance to do the task which he had originally failed to complete.
– Verse 6 says “When the king of Nineveh heard what Jonah was saying, he stepped down from his throne and took off his royal robes…”. This shows that the King was truly humbled, and understood that God’s Word was far more powerful than his superior earthly position.
– We see that prayer, fasting and repentance moved God. Verse 7 shows that the whole city was ordered by the king to do a dry fast (not even drinking water).
“…They must turn from their evil ways and stop all their violence.” (NLT)
“…let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands.” (NKJV)
The verse above in the two different versions show that although they were called to COLLECTIVELY repent as a city (“their”), that repentance is a PERSONAL thing (“his”); everyone had to “pull their own weight”, so to speak.
– Their prayer, fasting and repentance moved God to relent (<< This is not a typo… ‘relent’, not repent) Bless – Stephen
“Once again…” Our God is a God of many chances not just second chances but many chances! He wants the best for us, like it says in the bible that He will not withhold anything good from happening to us. He never gives up on us! We shouldn’t give up on him either no matter how hard it gets so we need PERSISTENCE! There are times when we need to ask The Lord for him to touch us ONCE AGAIN! To show up and show himself in our lives ONCE AGAIN! Sometimes we just need another touch.
Jonah obeyed God the second time, just because God gives us many chances we shouldn’t take advantage of it. It took Him three days to walk through Nineveh. Jonah was in the fishes belly for three days. Jesus was in the grave for three days. The three days in these situations is significant! Why? Because the three days that Jonah was inside the fish he was going through a process of transformation.’May we be transformed through the renewal of the mind’ During his three days of walking through Nineveh people’s minds were transformed. At the end God’s glory was seen. When Jesus rose from the grave God’s glory was also seen.
The sack cloths were a symbol of humbling themselves before God. Even the King wore a sack cloth which shows that everyone is equal so no one is too prestigious to be humble. We should always be humble even when we ask for forgiveness from God or anyone for that matter.
The people of Nineveh prayed earnestly AND gave up their wicked behaviours. You can’t just pray and not follow it up with the appropriate actions. They couldn’t do one or the other, they had to do BOTH! Remember: ‘Faith without works is dead’
He changed his mind which shows that His mercy is endless! How great is God! – Sandra
Why should we be doing evil in the first place then when God said destruction is coming we then want to turn away from our evil ways because we know the consequences of our actions. We shouldn’t leave it too late to turn away from our sinful natures.
God is never please by our wrongs but he is pleased when we turn away and face him instead of allowing our fleshly ways to get the better of us.
Verse 10 – again this shows how much grace and mercy God has given onto us and sometimes we take it for granted. – @beccatemitope
that, but for a King to do that, then he must have been sorry. When we get too carried away & do things our ways, God does some certain things to humble us. Their sober attitude saved them from God’s wrath. What if they continued with their evil aways even after being warned? It would have been a different story.