BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
BIBLE STUDY LESSON
For the week beginning Sunday May 5, 2013
GOD PURSUES THOSE WHOM HE CALLED TO TELL
(Taking the Gospel into other parts of the world)
Jonah 1 & 2
In Jonah chapter one, the prophet Jonah is called by GOD to travel some 550 miles northeast, from the city of Samaria, to the great double-walled city of Nineveh. This was a tall order on many levels, one of which is that, Nineveh is located in the middle of the Assyrian Empire, and the Assyrians were Israel’s greatest enemy at that time.
In those days, Nineveh was a large city of around 120,000 inhabitants. In fact, it was so large that it would take a person three days, just to see the whole city. It also had the unique characteristic of being surrounded by, not one, but two walls, an inner wall, and, an outer wall. The inner wall, which was 100 feet high and 50 feet thick, directly surrounded the central city of Nineveh, while the outer wall surrounded the smaller towns, villages, and fields that were situated outside of the city.
Jonah’s task was to go there and deliver GOD’s message of judgment on the people, that, if they did not repent within 40 days, they would be destroyed. And to make things tougher, the Assyrians, at that time, weren’t even worshipers of the GOD of Israel. This, I’m sure, served as a great motivation for Jonah’s decided disobedience to the LORD’s call, and he instead, chose to run away to avoid obeying GOD’s command.
A quick look at ancient land maps, tell us, that, Jonah ran as far as he could in the opposite direction. Jonah, who was apparently not quite as compassionate towards the Assyrians as GOD was, jumped on a ship that was headed to Tarshish, a Phoenician colony located some 2500 miles west of Joppa, which was the farthest point west from Israel, as they knew it at that time.
Bible history tells us, however, that GOD miraculously altered the plans on Jonah’s itinerary, by ultimately causing him to be swallowed up by a great fish, during a divinely provoked storm at sea. And after three days, and much prayer from Jonah in the belly of the fish, GOD, in HIS OWN unique way, releases Jonah back on dry land, giving him a second chance at obedience. And so Jonah re-incorporated the travel plans that GOD had originally given him in Samaria, that, he travel to Nineveh and deliver GOD’s message to unbelievers who lived there (Jonah chapter 2).
Throughout Old Testament biblical literature, whenever true believers, who have undergone a genuine transformation of the heart, and thereby, are experiencing a personal, revelatory relationship with GOD, they always refer to GOD by HIS personal, revelatory name, which is “YAHWEH”. This is the term of reverence used by Jonah when he refers to GOD here in this passage.
However, GOD has compassion even on those who do not know him, for HE allows it to rain on the “just” and the “unjust” at the same time, and perhaps, this is why; There are many people in this world who don’t believe in GOD, yet are still capable of doing “a right thing” from time to time. And there are many Christians in this world, who often know the “right thing” to do, yet, we yield to our “sin nature”, and don’t do it.
Jonah erred with his attitude and behavior toward the Assyrians, for he did not desire that GOD’s “Will” be done in the lives of other human beings, who are, like Christians, also made in the image of GOD. GOD embodies us all with the same “Communicable Attributes”, which are Life, Personality, Truth, Wisdom, Love, Justice, and holiness.
These attributes are contained in the “Nature of GOD”, and GOD shares them only with the human side of HIS creation. They render all human beings, no matter who they are, or, where they come from, capable of having a “Personal Relationship” with HIM. It is GOD’s earnest desire that all mankind accept CHRIST and be saved. And an “obedient witness”, through their speech and behavior, no matter who they are, can still be effective in fulfilling the desires of GOD for mankind, here on earth.
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website