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SUGGESTIONS TO TEACHERS. The gem of this lesson lies in the first few verses; therefore dwell on the setting enough to have the central thought clearly and vividly presented.
FIRST SCENE. Forty-five years of the prophet's life without a single mention in history; and yet these compose usually the most active and useful period of life. Ver. 14 throws a flood of light upon this darkness, and shows that they have been years of usefulness, and good deeds, and power. No idle, useless man, though a prophet, could be “the chariot of Israel and the horsemen thereof."
Illustration. A sinking ship, the water filling the hold, and all in danger of being lost. A man stands at the pump, and is continually working to save the ship, and yet it gradually settles in the water. But the man has done great good by his pumping, and made the ship sink slower, and given larger hope of final relief.
SECOND SCENE. A country devestated by foreign enemies, ground to the very dust, till the army inherited by the new king has but 10 chariots and 50 horsemen. All this on account of the sins of the king and people.
THIRD SCENE. A young man just crowned as king, after a brief two years' experience of ruling in connection with his father. All life and hope are before him. His country's weal or woe depend on his character and choices.
FOURTH SCENE. A sick-room; the aged prophet dying. The young king makes a visit to the sick-bed of his most illustrious subject, and utters words of appreciation. As a parting blessing, no doubt after patient waiting and earnest prayer, the prophet receives permission to offer a great promise to his king and his beloved country. Many a blessing comes from a sick-bed.
SUBJECT, — God's PROMISES AND OUR RECEIVING.
I. THE PROMISE (vers. 15-17). This was accompanied by a full explanation of the meaning of the trial soon to come. Dwell on the greatness of the treasures God has laid up for us and promised us.
Illustration. The fulness of nature. How much greater her treasures than men dreamed! And yet every power and treasure was there from the beginning.
II. THE TRIAL OF FAITH (vers. 18, 19). Given in full in the notes. Dwell also on the way we are tried in daily life, in little things. He that is faithful in little, will be faithful also in much. By doing well our daily duties, by true faith in every-day trials and temptations, we are prepared to receive larger blessings.
III. WE PUT OUR OWN LIMIT TO OUR BLESSINGS. God is rich in treasures for us; it is we who are not ready and willing to receive.
Illustrations from Scripture. (1) From Elisha's life (2 Kings 4:1-7). The woman's faith was measured by the number of vessels she borrowed. Every one was filled, and the oil stayed. (2) From the life of Christ (Matt. 9: 27-31). According to the blind men's faith it was done unto them.
IV. THE PROPHET'S TOMB (vers. 20, 21). Our influence lives beyond the grave: (1) in our own existence; (2) in the effects living in others, and working through them; (3) in the new effects from the recorded history of what we have done.
V. THE PROMISE FULFILLED (vers. 22-25).
LESSON VI. — Noy. 8. THE STORY OF JONAH. — JONAH 1:1-17. GOLDEN TEXT. — Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it. – JONAH 1: 2.
TIME. — The events of this lesson probably about B.C. Soo. Jonah's career as a prophet was from B.C. 825 (2 Kings 14:25) to perhaps 775. The chronology of this period will in the end be somewhat modified by the inscriptions on the Assyrian monuments.
PLACE. - Jonah belonged in Gath-hepher (2 Kings 14: 25), a town three miles from Nazareth on the road to Tiberias, on the Sea of Galilee. It belonged to the tribe of Zebulon, and lay in the country called Galilee in the time of Christ.
king of Judah; Bochoris, king of Egypt; Numitor and Aventinus in Italy; Rimmon-Nirari, king of Assyria. — Geo. Smith. Jonah was a child when Homer was an old blind bard; a contemporary of the Spartan lawgiver, Lycurgus; by a century the senior of Romulus, and four centuries more ancient than Herodotus. — Smith's Bib. Dic.
PLACE IN BIBLE HISTORY. - 2 Kings 14, 15; 2 Chron. 25, 26.
THE BOOK OF JONAH. - (1) Author unknown, but probably Jonah himself. (2) Time, probably toward the end of his career. (3) Nature of the Book. There are three views : first, that it is pure allegory, divinely designed; second, that it is legend, truth mixed with fiction; third, that it is veritable history. Without doubt the last is the true view. In regard to the view of its being a veritable history, it has been held by the most learned and pious commentators, from the fathers and the reformers unto the present day. It seems confirmed by the words of our Saviour (Matt. 12: 39–41). — Tayler Lewis. It was always set forth by our Lord to be revered and obeyed as God's word, without any caution about exceptions or mistakes. And furthermore, this special story of Jonah in the fish is selected by the Saviour for emphatic endorsement as an enacted type of his own three days' hiding in death. Still further, our Lord twice declares the truth of Jonah's story (Matt. 12:40; 16: 4), as if he had in view the temptation which many would be subjected to regarding belief in the narrative. Now this testimony is ample. There could not be more for any historic fact. — Howard Crosby, LL.D.
PRONUNCIATIONS. — Amit'tăi (or Amst'tă); Găth-hê'phěr; Jo'năh; Nin'ěvěh; Shălmăne'sěr; Tär'shish.
1. Now the 2 word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,
2. Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and 3 cry against it; for their 4 wickedness is come up before me.
3. But Jonah rose up to flee unto 5 Tarshish from the 6 presence of the LORD, and went down to 7 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. 1 Ruth 1:1. 1 Sam, 1:1. ? 2 Pet. 1:21. 3 Isa. 40:6; 58: 1.
sa. 40:6; 58: 1. Kings 18:27. Gen. 4: 10: Ezra 9:6. Rev. 18:5. Gen. 10:4. Ps. 72: 10. Jer. 10:9. Ezek. 27:12. Deut. 10: 8. 1 Kings
17:1. Luke 1:19. 7 Acts 10:5. 2 Chron. 2:16. Ezra 3:7.
EXPLANATORY. I. Disobedience Tends Downward. — Vers. 1-6. 1. Now. Literally, “and.” The standing formula by which historical events were linked together. -- Keil. Came. Perhaps in vision (Isa. 1:1; Acts 10: 11), perhaps by inspiration, perhaps with an audible voice (1 Sam. 3; i Kings 19:13, etc). Jonah. Hebrew, "a dove.” În Gen. 8:8, 9, the wandering dove vainly seeks rest. Amittai. Hebrew, “true.” Jonah the son of Amittai. Without doubt mentioned in 2 Kings 14: 25; a native of Gath-hepher (now El-Meshed, three miles north of Nazareth), and a prophet of Israel in the reign of Jero. boam II.
2. Arise. Rouse up; a word of incitement. He had prophesied of mercy to Israel, and his word had come true. His message would be received as authoritative. Go to Nineveh, that great city. Capital of the Assyrian empire, and the largest city in the world (see Lesson VII.). Their wickedness is come up before me. It is so depraved as to require divine interposition.
* A DOWNWARD TENDENCY (1) IN CHARACTER. 3. Jonah rose up. Girded and resolved. Thus far, he was obedient, to rise when he was bidden; but he might as well have sat still for any good he did. After the first step he trod not one step aright.
-- Abbott. He did not remonstrate, but being a man of dogged and refractory temper, he determined not to execute the command. — Kitto. The truth is, Jonah, though a man of God, did not like God's ways. He would have mended them. — Crosby. To flee. That is, to make haste. The only instance of a prophet concealing his message. Explanations vary: (1) the long and dangerous journey (600 miles); (2) dread of the cruel Gentile city; (3) unwillingness to carry a message of love outside his own nation. - Geikie; (4) Nineveh beneath his notice (Acts 10: 14); (5) his own reputa
4. But the LORD sent out a great 2 wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be 3 broken.
5. Then the mariners were 4 afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and 5 cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep.
1 Ps. 29: 3.
? Ps. 148:8. Acts 27:16.
3 Ps. 48: 7.
Ps. 107: 23, 30. Matt. 8: 23, 27.
5 Acts 27: 19, 38.
tion. - Abbott ; (6) holy zeal for God's honor, fear lest by sparing Nineveh after unmitigated threatening, God be regarded as changeable. — Martin; (7) as the Assyrian inscriptions state, Nineveh had already made war upon Israel, and as Jonah may have known, was destined to conquer it (Hosea 9 : 3; 11:5). Commanded to call to repentance the country by which his own people — nay, the people of God — were to be carried captive, he rebelled. — Pusey. Unto Tarshish. Probably Tartessus, a Phænician port in southern Spain. Sent to the extreme north-east, he hastened to the furthermost west. From the presence of the Lord. That is, from standing before him as his minister. — Pusey. He did not expect to hide from God (Ps. 139), who, as he told the sailors, made the sea and the dry land. Going out of the king's presence, said of one retiring from office, does not mean going from under his law. - Raleigh. Supposing, in common with his countrymen, that the spirit of prophecy was confined to the land of Israel, he hoped to escape from its inspiring influences by flying into a foreign country. — Payson. A departing from duty and from the execution of his office. — Abbott. Went down to Joppa. Some 50 miles away; a literal descent from his native hill-country, and a spiritual descent, no less. “Wherever thou turnest, if thou depart from the will of God, thou goest down. Whatever glory, riches, power, honor, thou gainest, thou risest not a whit; the more thou advancest, while turned from God, the deeper and deeper thou goest down." Joppa. The modern Jaffa, then the only seaport of importance in Palestine. He found a ship, etc. He tells us how many steps there were in his down-going. He found. Never measure obedience by apparent success. — Exell. God many times suffers those things to be ready by the which we may fall. - Abbott. Going to Tarshish. That is, a Phænician ship.
A DOWNWARD TENDENCY (2) IN PURSE. He paid the fare thereof. One of those little touches of a true narrative. — Pusey. So that he may do amiss, he will not spare his money. - Abbott. He little guessed how much the journey would cost before the end.
A DOWNWARD TENDENCY (3) IN COMPANIONSHIP. To go with them. The sailors. Fleeing from God, he fell into heathen companionship. The prodigal was not choice in his company, if he could only get far from home. From the presence of the Lord. He had no further step to take; winds and waves would do the rest. He had but to be still. Pusey. Avowedly from God's presence. He was, however, destined to know more of God than he had known before. — Kitto.
4. Like all who endeavor to frustrate God's designs, evade his commands, or flee from his presence, Jonah found his hopes miserably disappointed. He who made the winds his messengers, sent a storm to arrest the fugitive prophet, and bring him back to the path of duty. -- Payson (see Amos 9: 2, 3). But the Lord sent out a great wind into the sea. “ Hurled a greate wynde into the see.” — Coverdale's Bible. Josephus speaks of the “black north wind” off that coast. Euroclydon. “Stormy wind fulħlling his word.” If it hail in Egypt, where it rains very few times, God sends that hail on Pharaoh. If an east wind bring in grasshoppers, and a west wind drive them out, both come from the Lord. The wind and the tempest depend not on chance, but on the sovereign power of the almighty Creator. — Abbott. A mighty tempest. “A Levanter.” The ship was like to be broken. Literally, “ thought to be dashed to pieces."
5. The mariners were afraid. Then must the danger have been extreme. Mariners. “The salts.” Cried every man unto his god. Heathen; probably Phænicians, but from different places, and therefore worshippers of different gods. - Keil. He that would learn to pray, let him go to sea. — Matthew Henry.. “All lost! to prayers ! to prayers! All lost!” — Shakespeare. Cast forth the wares. They thought the ship weighed down by its wonted lading, and knew not that the whole weight was that of the fugitive prophet. - Jerome. To lighten it of them. To procure relief to themselves (Job 2:4); but except the Lord ease the ship, they labor but in vain. But. While others were praying, the guilty one was sleeping. Is it ever so in the church? A DOWNWARD TENDENCY (4) in GooD JUDGMENT. Was gone down. “Those
6. So the shipmaster came to him, and said unto him, What meanest thou, 10 sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will 2 think upon us, that we perish not.
7. And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast 3 lots, that we may know 4 for whose cause this evil is upon us. So 5 they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah.
8. Then said they unto him, Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this evil is upon us; What is thine occupation? and whence comest thou? what is thy country? and of what people art thou? 1 Eph. 5: 14. 2 Ps. 40:17. Gen. 8:1. 3 Lev. 16:8. Sam. 10:20. Acts 1: 26. 4 John 4: 7. Acts 28: 4.
5 1 Sam. 14:42. Esther 3: 7. conscious of guilt shrink from companionship.” Into the sides of the ship. In the back part of the cabin. — Crosby. “Down below.” This shows that Jonah sailed in a decked vessel.- Perowne. And was fast asleep. It is profoundly natural: he had come a long journey in haste; he was weary; he was remorseful; he had nothing now to do; he would not dare to think. — Raleigh. Sorrow and remorse completed what fatigue began. - Pusey. The sleep, not of heartlessness, but of heavy-heartedness. — Chrysostom. Drowned in stupor and stupid insecurity. - Ferome. In careless self-security. — Keil. Our Lord's sleep (Mark 4: 38) furnishes at once a comparison and a contrast.
A DOWNWARD TENDENCY (5) IN DIGNITY. 6. The shipmaster. The captain. Perowne. The upper steersman. - Keil. Coming upon Jonah, probably, while looking to the straining planks, he is thus an example of diligent care to all persons who hold offices of trust (see Eccl. 2: 14). His words have roused many sleeping souls. It was the prophet's office to call the heathen to prayer. God reproved the Scribes and Pharisees by the mouth of the children who cried “ Hosanna,” Jonah by the shipmates, David by Abigail, Naaman by his servants. — Pusey (see Luke 11:35). What meanest thou? “What aileth thee?” — Pusey. “How canst thou sleep soundly?” – Keil. Arise, call upon thy God. This address of the shipmaster is equally applicable to you who are yet in your natural, unregenerate state, for your situation is far more dreadful and alarming than Jonah's. Like him, you are exposed to the storm of divine wrath, which every moment pursues and threatens to overtake you; like him, you are asleep, and insensible of your danger. — Payson. If so be that God will think upon us. God's thinking of a person involves the idea of assistance. — Keil. God. The God. — Keil. The heathen retained a vague idea, starting into prominence in times of distress, of one supreme God, by whose providence the world is governed. — Perowne. Here the world is turned upside down: the sheep leadeth the shepherd, the patient cureth the physician, the scholar doth teach the master. All maketh against thee, Jonah, that this heathen man should be more devout in his superstition than thou in thy true religion. I pray God the old Gentiles, Aristides, Plato, Socrates, condemn us not in that great and terrible day. - Abbott.
11. Continued Disobedience Leads to Ruin. — Vers. 7–12. 7. That Jonah obeyed the call is self-evident. Every one to his fellow. The expression of the common feeling. Let us cast lots. In ancient times, a solemn appeal to God; but its use is never mentioned in the Bible after the day of Pentecost. It would seem to have been superseded by the gift which conferred "a right judgment in all things." — Perowne. For whose cause. "On account of whom.” It is a testimony to the work of conscience that the storm was attributed to divine displeasure. The ancient Greek tragedy was founded on that idea. Is upon us. Even the heathen believe that one guilty man involves all his associates, though innocent, in punishment. — Perowne. Horace objected to such a man putting to sea in the boat with him. One sinner destroyeth much good. — Solomon. So they cast lots. Homer describes the lots as shaken together in a helmet, until one fell out. The lot fell upon Jonah. By the will of him who governs uncertain lots. - Jerome (Proy. 16: 33). It was not possible for him to escape where such a one had the handling of it, as is the Lord of heaven and earth. – Abbott (see Heb. 4:13; Ps. 90:8; 50: 21). There had already (ver. 5) been a RUIN OF PROPERTY; now came a worse RUIN OF REPUTATION.
8. The subject of this verse is the public investigation of a private life, sometimes impertinent, but under these circumstances entirely justifiable. The mariners were no doubt surprised that the lot should fall upon Jonah; his appearance was the most unsuspicious, his dress the most respectable, and his manners the most refined. — Exell. They gave him opportunity for clearing himself or of making confession. The judicial fairness and calmness
9. And he said unto them, I am a Hebrew; and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land.
10. Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him, 2 Why hast thou done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them.
11. Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous.
12. And he said unto them, 3 Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my 4 sake this great tempest is upon you.
1 Ps. 146:6. Acts 17: 24.
? Gen. 4:10.
3 John 11:50.
of these heathen men, their abstinence from anger and reproach, their sense of the sanctity of human life, their fear of punishing the innocent, are very strikingly brought out in the whole of this exciting scene. — Perowne. One might see in the scene a terrible tribunal, for the ship was the court of justice, the judges were the sailors, the executioners were the winds, the prisoner at the bar was the prophet, the house of correction and prison of safe keeping was the whale, and the accuser was the angry sea. — Kalisch. Tell us, we pray thee. A diligent inquiry, as all efforts to detect wrong-doing should be; lazy indifference, or so-called charity, which waits for the crime to unfold itself, is but mockery of right. Exell. What is thine occupation? They inquired about his occupation, which might be disreputable, and objectionable to the gods, and especially about his land and people, that they might be able to pronounce a safe sentence upon his crime. — Keil. These questions must have gone home to Jonah's conscience. What is thy business? The office of prophet, which he had left. Whence comest thou? From standing before God as his minister. What is thy country ? and of what people art thou? The people of God, whom he had quitted for heathen. As always, however, the shame was in the commission, not in the confession.
9. And he said. He does not refuse, or prevaricate, or deny. The better part of his character now comes out. His conduct is dignified and manly, worthy of a servant and prophet of Jehovah. — Perowne. I am a Hebrew. The name by which foreigners knew Jews. I fear. Worship. To be afraid of God is not to fear him. To be afraid of God keeps men away from him; to fear God draws them nearer to him. — Pusey. The God of heaven. Thus Abraham speaks of God to his servant, Jonah to the mariners, Daniel to Nebuchadnezzar. So Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes in their proclamations. He was the God of the Hebrews. Which hath made the sea. The heathen had distinct gods for the “heaven," the "sea," and the “land.” Jehovah is the only God of all. He had sinned against (1) the glory of God, the ruler of heaven and earth; (2) the graciousness of God to himself, one of the chosen people; (3) the grace of God in his own experience. - Martin. And now his secret sin was set in the light of God's countenance, and there he saw it. And the result was, RUIN OF SELF-RESPECT.
10. Then were the men exceedingly afraid. “They feared a great fear.” Hitherto they had looked upon Jehovah only as a god, with whom they had no concern (comp. Pharaoh's contemptuous question, Ex. 5:2). Now they knew him as the Omnipotent, and at the same moment he was revealed to them as a holy God, whose wrath was kindled by one disobedience of his prophet. How must he regard them (Rom. 2:9; 1 Pet. 4:17, 18) Why hast thou done this? Rather, “What is this that thou hast done?” An exclamation of surprise and horror. If professors of religion do wrong they will hear of it from those who make no such profession. — Pocket Com. The inconsistency of believers is the marvel of the young Christian, the hardening of the unbeliever. Faith without love, knowledge without obedience, conscious dependence and yet rebellion, are the strangest marvels of this mysterious world. - Pusey.
II. What shall we do unto thee? An appeal to the true God and the true man. Raleigh. May be calm. “May desist from troubling us.” Calm. Except in this chapter, the word thus translated occurs only in Ps. 107: 30 and Prov. 26: 20. Wrought, and was tempestuous. “Was going and whirling." Its waves, battalions pursuing and demanding God's runaway slave. — Pusey. Frank confession and unfeigned repentance did not remove divine anger. - Martin. 12. Cast me forth into the sea. True repentance leads the penitent to “accept the