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We (Sister Norma and I) have been studying the Minor Prophet Jonah!

Jesus sure seemed to love this Old Testament Preacher.

Let's see if we can tell why. 


 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
II Timothy 2:1



My wife (Sister Norma) and I have been studying the Old Testament Book of Jonah this month.

One could view the Book as an ancient "travel" guide! 

Jonah begins in Gathhepher, his home town in Galilee. 

He then travels down to the seaport of Joppa to board a ship.

Now for a cruise!

The voyage on the Mediterranean comes next!

Plus the added adventure of a storm!

Then include some "nature" events!

A trip to the bottom of the sea ... and a ride in a great fish!

Upon landing safely, it's off to Nineveh, capital city of the great Assyrian Empire. (Foreign travel is always interesting!)

Of course Jonah tours the whole city.  It's sort of a working vacation.

Then a few days of rest on the eastern side of the metropolis to see the "outcome" of it all!

BUT it seems that perhaps only Jonah was interested in THAT journey.

God is indeed interested in another type of geography!  The geography of Jonah's heart!

He had surely scaled some spiritual mountains!  We know this from an account of Israel's history as recorded in 2 Kings 14:25 --- "He (Jeroboam II) restored the coast of Israel from the entering of Hamath unto the sea of the plain, according to the word of the LORD God of Israel, which he spake by the hand of his servant Jonah, the son of Amittai, the prophet, which was of Gathhepher."  Jonah was surely 'On target" that day!  How "popular" he must have been!

Old Jonah hit some valleys in his spiritual journey too!  (Like in the bottom of the spiritual "barrel" as he fled God's Presence and rebelled against the Almighty!)

He also had some pretty rough places God wanted to smooth out for His Glory!  (Like talking back to the Lord in Heaven!  Several times!)

He experienced some dry desert times as well!  No vine to shield his head from the sun!  He nearly fainted (physically and spiritually)!

He knew a bit about excessively wet places too!  As a Preacher Jonah had really seen things get "out of the banks!"

While a quick reading of the Minor Prophet gives us much travel information requiring a map book ... a deeper reading calls for a spiritual viewpoint and a copy of the whole Word of God!

I believe God is interested more in the spiritual topography, don't you?

Preachers, as you preach Sunday remember this.  (The same is true for you Sunday School teachers.) Your people come to church in all kinds of "conditions."  Some are in the mountains spiritually ... others in the valleys!  Some are hot and dry ... others damp and cold! 

Ask God to give you wisdom ... and preach to them the "whole counsel of God."  It alone (the Word) can meet their every need ... no matter their (spiritual) location!

After all, we are all on a "journey."  I'm sure glad we can know for sure where we're headed .... Heaven ... if we're really saved!

                                                                                  --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




We were thinking last night about Jonah.  It is a unique Book for sure.  And he is a "one-of-a-kind" Prophet!

He is the only Old Testament prophet who ran from his call in such a manner!  I mean running from God to the extent Jonah did!  (I know Moses hesitated at first ... as did Jeremiah ... but not like Jonah!)

He is the only Bible Prophet who was so spectacularly successful!  One sermon (or perhaps one series of sermons) and a whole city repented!  Thousands and thousands of people! 

And he's the only Prophet who was absolutely disgusted with such success!  Most would have said, "Lord ... Thy Will be done!"

Jonah also is the only Old Testament Prophet who was (very very likely) raised from the dead!  (Here are his very words from the depths!  He's speaking to God Himself! "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 2:2)  That word "hell" ("sheol") is translated "grave" 31 times in the King James Version.  If so ... this Preacher is a real TYPE of Christ, isn't he?

He's the only Prophet who took such a long ship ride!  Or the only Prophet who journeyed so far from home!  Or who absolutely refused to repent for four complete chapters!  Or was swallowed by a fish!

He's the only Prophet who had people saved EVERYWHERE he went!  (Much as did Peter the Apostle in the New Testament!)  Even when Jonah was "running" from God and in a terrible storm ... sailors were saved by God's grace through his life and ministry! 

I believe he's the greatest Prophet teacher of the Psalms (particularly the Psalms) too!  His prayer from the underworld (belly of the great fish or hell or the grave) is FILLED with references and allusions to the Psalms (dozens of them)!  Again and again he drew from them!  (And necessarily all by memory!)

But, preacher Bagwell, if Jonah is SO different and so unique ... why is he in the Bible!  For one primary reason!  Jesus says so!  "But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." (Matthew 12:39-40)  He is a picture of our Lord Jesus in His death, burial and resurrection!

Yes, it's a joy to study the world's most unusual Prophet ... who points me to the world's ONLY unusual and REAL Saviour, the darling Son of God!

Glory to His Name!

                                                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




I just noticed this last week!  The Book of Jonah ends with a question!

Here's the last verse:

"Then said the LORD, Thou 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

Jonah is so hard hearted ... so strong willed that he disrespects God's decision to "save" Nineveh, sparing her certain judgment.

The biggest problem God has in the book is not the weather ... or the Ninevites ... or the creatures of His hands ... BUT JONAH!

A book that is really designed to primarily focus on JESUS is having to end focusing on Jonah!

Then I got to wondering!

Does any other Book of Scripture end with a question?

Surely not!

But ... one more does!

The Book of Nahum!

And ... guess what Nahum discusses?

The people of Assyria, the people of Nineveh!

Here's Nahum 1:1 --- "The burden of Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite."  It Nineveh all over again!  Just 149 years later ... according to Dr. Scofield!

And here's how Nahum (the Book) ends: 

"There is no healing of thy bruise; thy wound is grievous: all that hear the bruit of thee shall clap the hands over thee: for upon whom hath not thy wickedness passed continually?"   Nahum 3:19

Isn't that strange?

In less than 150 years Nineveh had reverted to her old ways!

God did bring her down!  In fact, the whole Book of Nahum describes Nineveh's destruction!  (Nahum got to preach what Jonah wanted to preach!)

If Jonah could have only sat there on the east side of the city for a century and a half ... he would have seen his desire fulfilled!  His prophecy concerning Nineveh's overthrow would have occurred!

Was Jonah just slightly ahead of his time?  Or was he a stubborn Prophet unwilling to follow His Lord's will?

I must end this article the same way Jonah and Nahum end ... with a question.

(The answer to which we shall gain knowledge only after going to heaven, I assume!)

Who knows if Jonah is extra discerning ... or extra rebellious?

                                                                               --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




I've just notice a new level of "repetition" that seems to occur in the Book of Jonah! Of course, it is inspired repetition!  Because the Holy Spirit is the Author!

Watch the use of the word "great."

There is a GREAT city, Nineveh!  (Jonah 1:2)

There is a GREAT wind!  (Jonah 1:4)  Also called a GREAT tempest in Jonah 1:12.

There is a GREAT fish!  (Jonah 1:17)

Twice more Nineveh is called GREAT!  (Jonah 3:2-3)

There is a God of GREAT kindness!  (Jonah 4:2)

And again that GREAT city is mentioned!  (Jonah 4:11)

Eight (8) times we have the word! 

What's the point, preacher?

This, I believe.

Jonah is confronting something GREATER than himself!

Which, judging from Jonah's apparent ego, is pretty GREAT!

And yet, Jonah didn't budge!  He refused to belittle himself one bit!  He failed to acknowledge these great things ... and the GREAT GOD behind them!

Folks, listen to me today, there is Someone BIGGER than you!  And bigger than me!

Psalm 61:2 --- "From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I."

We had best respond to the GREAT things He sends our way!

Psalm 95:3 may say it best.  "For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods."


                                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




Jonah in some ways is a riddle!

He can be compared and contrasted to a number of the great "early" characters of Scripture.

Adam and Eve come to mind.  Just after they had sinned against God ... they hid themselves!  Here's the Bible account:  "And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden."  Genesis 3:8

That's exactly what Jonah tried to do!  Hide from God!  Need proof?   "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

(Neither Adam and Eve nor Jonah were successful in hiding from the Lord!)

Next let me remind you of a way Jonah is to be contrasted with an Old Testament Patriarch, Abraham.

Abraham begged God to spare a city!  (Sodom)  He became in intercessor ... pleading for the city to be protected if 50 ... then 45 ... then 40 ... all the way down to 10 (!!!) righteous people could be found!

Jonah did the opposite!  He wanted God to destroy a city ... no matter how many righteous people were in it!

Absolutely amazing!

I just thought you might enjoy this interesting little "sidelight" as we journey through Jonah!

The Lord willing, more tomorrow!

                                                                    --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




Here's a brief thought.  Someone mentioned it to us the other day.

Jonah preached to a city, Nineveh!

So did Jesus preach to a city, Jerusalem!

Jonah however preached judgment!

Jesus preached love and grace!

(Jonah --- "And Jonah began to enter into the city a day's journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown."  Jonah 3:4)

(Jesus --- "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!"  Matthew 23:37)

The result of Jonah's judgment preaching was GRACE!  (Salvation to the Assyrians!)

The result of Jesus' grace preaching was judgment upon Jerusalem in 70 AD!


Yet it is through the shed Blood and death of Jesus that all sinners are saved ... including the Ninevites!

Glory to His Name!

                                                                 --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




I have preached all week from the 15th chapter of Luke (all 32 verses).  Five sermons analyzed and rejoiced in its marvelous contents.

It's all about lost things (and people) being found!

We ended yesterday with a message on the prodigal's older brother.

That son simply stumbled over the GOODNESS of the Father!

He could not understand such forgiveness and compassion and love!

Then I thought of another Bible character who misunderstood the concept of grace! He is mentioned in the parable of Matthew 18:23-35.  He is usually called "the unmerciful servant."  He was forgiven a huge debt by his Lord ... but could not bring himself to dismiss a small debt a fellow servant owed him! 

Matthew 20 presents us another such picture!  The "laborers in the vineyard" had worked 12 hours and been given a full day's wages!  BUT when the Householder paid those laborers who had only worked a hour or two ... he gave them also a full day's wages!  This ultra act of kindness upset the full-day workers!  They got aggravated over the goodness of their Master!

And then ... there's old Jonah!  Perhaps he's the ultimate example!  He was so disturbed over God's grace exhibited to the people of Nineveh that he actually wanted to die! (Perhaps Jonah understood the goodness of God here ... but just disagreed with God's decision in the matter!)

I have an idea this Saturday!

Why get disturbed and angry over God's grace?

Why not rejoice in it?

After all, we are recipients of it daily (make that hourly ... or even constantly), aren't we?

Paul used an expression in Ephesians 1:6 that exactly describes what I mean.  He said (as a result of our salvation) we should live "To the praise of the glory of His grace!"

Praise God for His Goodness ... Grace ... Mercy ... and Love!

Let the chorus ring out from our mouths all the day long!

                                                                       --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




Of all the Books of the Bible, Jonah just may be the most doubted!  Few "liberals" any longer believe in the historical accuracy of Jonah and his life.

It is mocked by the devil and his crowd more than ever I believe.

I just read a book in which the author tried to argue that it really doesn't matter if Jonah really lived or not.  That ... fact or fiction ... the message is the same!  I disagree!

(Of course one can understand why the devil fights it so!  It is said to be a picture of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus!  That alone makes Satan hate it!)

Then I thought ... let's ask the Expert!

But let's see what Jesus says about Jonah.

"But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here." Matthew 12:39-41  (Sounds to me like Jesus accepted Jonah as a man of history! The Lord had no trouble with the account of the great fish either!)

Furthermore, see Matthew 16:4 --- "A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed."

Even Doctor Luke records this:  "And when the people were gathered thick together, he began to say, This is an evil generation: they seek a sign; and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet.  For as Jonas was a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation.  The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation, and condemn them: for she came from the utmost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.  The men of Nineve shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here."  Luke 11:29-32

If Jesus accepted Jonah and the events of his life as facts of history ... so do I!

Let's never be ashamed to take the same position Jesus did on any issue!

I think we'll just keep studying Jonah!  (A little Book with a big message!)

                                                                 --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




We only meet Jonah one other time in Scripture.  In 2 Kings 14:25-26 we are told: "He (King Jeroboam II of Israel) restored the coast of Israel from the entering of Hamath unto the sea of the plain, according to the word of the LORD God of Israel, which he spake by the hand of his servant Jonah, the son of Amittai, the prophet, which was of Gathhepher.  For the LORD saw the affliction of Israel, that it was very bitter: for there was not any shut up, nor any left, nor any helper for Israel."

In this text God (speaking through Jonah) tells a rather wicked King (Jeroboam) that He is going to bless Israel with land expansion because of their terrible suffering.  It is purely a case of God's Grace being displayed!

And is not the Book of Jonah the very same thing?

A wicked King and civilization (the Assyrians whose capital was at Nineveh) were very wicked too.  Yet God's Grace moved upon them ... and repentance was granted them ... and God blessed them with further national life!

There is a direct parallel between these two appearances of Jonah in Scripture!

Wickedness abounding!

Grace super-abounding!

And God blessing!

Perhaps this is a truth Jonah did not see at first!

Maybe Paul expresses it best of all:  "But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound!" 

Glory to God!

                                                                    --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




I've been wondering about the "focus" of this little Minor Prophet of Jonah. (It only has 4 chapters --- 48 verses total!)

Most would say the subject is the city of Nineveh. The wickedness of the people there! (And indeed history reveals that they were exceedingly ungodly!)

BUT, surprisingly, the Book of Jonah says MORE about the sins of Jonah than it does about the sins of Nineveh!

Jonah is disobedient. He runs from God's call! Jonah is deceptive. He is not at first honest with the sailors on the boat! Jonah is suicidal at times too! Then he obviously has an old bad attitude a great deal of the time! Plus He disagrees with God's very Will about the Assyrians ... and lets God know so! He is stubborn and rebellious.

Yes, much more about Jonah is presented than about Nineveh!

BUT I have come to believe that the focus goes even further than a wicked city or a disobedient prophet!

I see the real Subject of this Book as the LORD Himself!

The Saviour of both Nineveh and Jonah is One and the Same Person, the Lord God Almighty!

Listen to the Book as it declares: "Salvation is of the LORD." (Jonah 2:9)

Or ... listen to Jonah describe God's Nature: "And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil." (Jonah 4:2)

All the way through the account God is patient and kind and longsuffering! He is just as Peter says in the New Testament: "The God of all grace!" (1 Peter 5:10)

I rest my case!

Read Jonah again today. Not to see the Assyrian Ninevites ... or even the ever so human prophet ... but the God Who gave His only begotten Son that sinners may be saved!

Praise His Good Name!

                                                                                --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




Jonah wanted to flee to Tarshish!

Of course he never got there!

The name of that city means (in Hebrew) "yellow jasper."  No doubt this is a term used in the financial world of Jonah's day.

It's first found in Scripture in Genesis 10:4 then secondly in 1 Chronicles 1:7.  Both times it is listing the second son of Javan, the fourth son of Jephthah (son of Noah). It is reasonable then to believe that "Tarshish" is a location with European ties. (That's where the sons of Japheth seemed to settle.)

It is thought that Tarshish may be at the southern tip of Spain.  (Other ideas are suggested ... but the fundamental consensus is there on the Iberian Peninsula.)

The point is this:  Jonah was trying to get as far away from Nineveh as he could!

God said go east.  Jonah went west!

God said walk (the only way to go to Nineveh)!  Jonah said I'll sail!

God wanted Jonah to do UP to Nineveh.  Jonah went DOWN into the ship and DOWN into the sea instead!

Running from God!

By the way, in the Bible "Tarshish" is often linked with business and money and trade! 

2 Chronicles 9:21 --- "For the king's ships (Solomon's) went to Tarshish with the servants of Huram: every three years once came the ships of Tarshish bringing gold, and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks."

Jeremiah 10:9 --- "Silver spread into plates is brought from Tarshish, and gold from Uphaz, the work of the workman, and of the hands of the founder: blue and purple is their clothing: they are all the work of cunning men."

Ezekiel 27:12 --- "Tarshish was thy merchant by reason of the multitude of all kind of riches; with silver, iron, tin, and lead, they traded in thy fairs."

Therefore Tarshish could represent a love of money and possessions!

That has misled many a preacher who was supposed to be going to his Nineveh!

BUT wherever Tarshish is ... it is the place where God did NOT want his prophet!

It's the place outside the will of God!

How about you, dear Christian friend?

Where are you headed today?

Toward God's will or away from it?

The "safest" place on earth for a Believer is in the direct center of God's will ... wherever that may be!

                                                                       --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




I was studying Jonah as I came across these words!

The Bible teacher was discussing Jonah's running from God.

Adam and Eve hid from God!

Cain went out from the Presence of the Lord!

BUT Jonah ran from the Lord!

He literally set his "compass" 270 degrees (due west) when God had told him to go in the very opposite direction (east)!

Then the teacher said this:  When God saves us He expects us to "set the inner compass of our lives toward Jesus!"

That "hit" me powerfully!

IF my compass is set toward the Lord ... that's where I'll be going for sure!

Sometimes when I fly I take my little cheap (Wal-Mart) compass with me. Occasionally if the flight isn't full and I'm sitting near the stewardess ... I'll ask her to phone the cockpit and see if my compass is in "sync" with theirs!  Almost always I can tell THEM what heading we're flying!

You see, the heading we fly determines the destination we reach!

How about you dear friend?

Is your compass "set?"

I mean ... is it set toward JESUS?

"Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith."  Hebrews 12:2

"If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above!"  Colossians 3:1

Focus on the Saviour!

That way ... you can't go wrong!

                                                                          --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




Notice with me how God usually handles a "city" in the Word of God!  It only comes into view as it affects the lives of his people!

For example, in John 11:1 we see the story of Bethany, a "suburb" of Jerusalem: "Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha."

It's the same kind of situation when we get to the Bible city of Joppa too! 

It is first seen in Scripture in Joshua 19:46 --- "And Mejarkon, and Rakkon, with the border before Japho."  (Japho in the King James Bible is translated Joppa 3 times.) It means "beautiful!"  Here it's only mentioned because it is being given by the Lord to the Tribe of Dan!

Our first detailed experience with Joppa however occurs in the Book of Jonah!

There a disobedient prophet runs from God!  He rebelliously purchases a ticket to sail WEST when God had told him to walk east!

His sinfulness certainly blights the city (Joppa) whose name means "beautiful!"

The next time we see Joppa in detail is in the Book of Acts.  It's mentioned 10 times there in the "Peter and Cornelius" story!

There a prophet (really an apostle) is vacationing in Joppa ... and gets a message from the Lord to go to a GENTILE named Cornelius and tell him how to get saved!

Peter, unlike Jonah, leaves his place and goes to obey the Lord!  Cornelius and his household do get saved!

Look what God has done!

He has turned Joppa back into a spiritually "beautiful" city again!

Thank God that the disobedient Jonah was not the last preacher to go through Joppa!

Obedient Peter made things right!

Friend, where do YOU live?

Are you making it a lovelier place to your Lord ... by your obedience to Him and reverence of His dear Name?

If not ... join the "city beautification team" today!

Live for Jesus!

God will bless you for it!

                                                                    --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




There is considerable opinion today that Jonah may have had a deeper motive behind his running from God!

Let me share that reasoning with you today.

In Jonah's day the Assyrians (whose capital city was Nineveh) were violent warriors! They attacked surrounding areas regularly and viciously!

The annals of history tell us that they were cruel to their victims to an extreme!

They killed mercilessly!  They skinned some of their captives alive!  They boiled others (alive) in big pots of water or oil!  They mutilated bodies and raped women and slaughtered children and infants!

And their next target (or at least soon) would be the state of Israel!  The Jews! Jonah's people!

Now if God could destroy that wicked crowd at Nineveh ... Israel and Judah would be much safer!

Can you begin to see WHY Jonah may have not wanted revival to fall on the Ninevites?

These fierce warriors may have already begun their raids into some Jewish outposts! To do anything to stall God's wrath on one's enemies would be stupid, wouldn't it?

That may be the dilemma Jonah faced!

He apparently decided he would rather die ... than have his people (the Jews) die!

And ... by the way ... Jonah was right in his fears!  In 721 BC the nation of Israel fell into Assyrian hands and was carried away captive!

Paul felt such nationalism too!  His burden was so great that he even said:  "For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen (the Jews) according to the flesh!" Romans 9:3

BUT there comes a time when a Christian must subordinate his love of country for His obedience to God!

Perhaps that's what Jonah would not do!

Our great God demands first place in our lives ... and He deserves it too!

                                                                                         --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




The baseball "all-star" game was held last night in Houston, Texas.  In any such event the "pitchers" are of paramount importance.  Sometimes announcers call those men on the mound ... "hurlers!"

That's the exact verb being used of God Himself in today's Jonah verse!  Have you ever thought of our Lord as a "Hurler?"  A "Pitcher?"

Jonah 1:4 says:  "But the LORD "sent out" a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken."  I have capitalized the verb in our focus.  It translates a Hebrew verb:  "tul."  It means to hurl or to cast or to throw or even to send out!"  It's a Hiphil perfect verb ... suggesting that the action has a CAUSE behind it (Jonah's rebellion and disobedience) and that God is now through hurling those winds (completed action)! I do believe God controls the weather!

Then I noticed something exciting.  God "hurled" (same verb = "tul") several other things in Scripture too! 

In fact even in the Book of Jonah ... because God HURLED the wind (storm) ... the sailors HURLED the ship's cargo into the roaring sea!  Jonah 1:5 --- "Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and 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."

But that's not the only "HURLING" in Jonah.  No!  No!  Next comes the Prophet himself!  In Jonah 1:12 the once sleeping preacher finally said:  "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."  And they did!  Jonah 1:15 --- "So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging."

But there are other times when GOD did some hurling too!

God HURLED Judah out of her land because of her backslidings!  In Jeremiah 16:13 we are told:  "Therefore will I (the Lord God) cast you out of this land into a land that ye know not, neither ye nor your fathers; and there shall ye serve other gods day and night; where I will not shew you favour."  What a HURLER!

And God plans to HURL some wicked nations also!  He is speaking specifically of Egypt in Ezekiel 32:4 --- "Then will I leave thee upon the land, I will cast thee forth upon the open field, and will cause all the fowls of the heaven to remain upon thee, and I will fill the beasts of the whole earth with thee."

BUT thankfully, I have also found a time when God refuses to allow His children to be HURLED away!  The Psalmist, quoting the Lord, says:  "The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down  (our verb: "tul"): for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand."  Psalm 37:23-24

God knows how to HURL ... and He knows how to UPHOLD!

Praise His Name!

Let me end today with a particularly New Testament truth!  Jesus says:  "And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.  My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand."  (John 10:28-29)   Praise God ... no HURLING is mentioned here.  We are saved ... eternally.

Glory to His Name!

                                                                         --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




I've still been thinking about that "storm" in Jonah chapter one!

The actual word used for the "storm" in Jonah 1:4 is "wind!"  It's the Hebrew noun "ruach" and means wind or breath or even spirit!  God sent His Spirit into the sea to teach Jonah a lesson!  (The Holy Spirit of God can be a Gentle Breeze or a Rushing Mighty Wind!)

My point is this:  God spoke to Jonah through a storm!

He did so often!

Think of Job!  "Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said ...."  Job 38:1   What lessons came from that storm!  The Hebrew noun for whirlwind is "saar" and means tempest or storm as well as whirlwind!

Then remember Elijah.  At his lowest point, God said:  "Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake:  And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice."  1 Kings 19:11-12

Even Jeremiah spoke of God's using the storm to deal with the earth and its inhabitants!  "Behold, a whirlwind of the LORD is gone forth in fury, even a grievous whirlwind: it shall fall grievously upon the head of the wicked."  Jeremiah 23:19

There was a violent storm at our home in Cumming last night.  We were all praying for God's safety (even though I'm hundreds of miles away in Michigan)!  I'll assure you ... God was in THAT storm too!

Here's something strange.  The word storm is only used 14 times in the whole Bible! (Add 4 more times for the adjective "stormy!")

If you don't believe God can be in the storm, read:

Psalm 107:25 --- "For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof."

Psalm 148:8 --- "Fire, and hail; snow, and vapour; stormy wind fulfilling his word."

Ezekiel 13:13 --- "Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; I will even rend it with a stormy wind in my fury; and there shall be an overflowing shower in mine anger, and great hailstones in my fury to consume it."

In Psalm 83:15 Asaph prays to God:  "So persecute them with thy tempest, and make them afraid with thy storm."

And in Psalm 107:29 we see the Lord's power over the weather:  "He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still."

The Lord's storm can teach or it can punish!  Isaiah 29:6 --- "Thou shalt be visited of the LORD of hosts with thunder, and with earthquake, and great noise, with storm and tempest, and the flame of devouring fire."

Read Nahum 1:3 --- "The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked: the LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet."  Wow!

Friend, when you storm comes ... remember, God is right in the middle of it!  In fact He is riding it!  Listen carefully:

2 Samuel 22:11 --- "And he (our great God) rode upon a cherub, and did fly: and he was seen upon the wings of the wind."

Psalm 18:10 --- "And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind."

And still speaking of the Lord, Psalm 104:3 says:  "Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters: who maketh the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind."

This all sure puts Jonah's storm in better perspective for me!

How about you?

                                                                    --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




In Jonah 1:9 the Prophet says to the questioning sailors:  "I am an Hebrew; and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land."

Jonah specifically called himself a "Hebrew!"

Why did he say "Hebrew" instead of "Israelite?"  Or why did he not just call himself a "Prophet of God?"

One teacher suggests that perhaps the term Hebrew would have been better understood by the mariners.  Or by the early readers of Jonah's Prophecy.

However, there is surely a "spiritual" reason too!

Here's a "hint" maybe.

The first time the word is used in the Bible (Genesis 14:13) Abraham is being described.  "And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew; for he dwelt in the plain of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner: and these were confederate with Abram."

Abraham, the Hebrew!

Now do remember:  Abraham was a man who lived a long way from the "Holy Land" in Ur, a heathen Chaldean city.  God told him to GO to some (yet) unnamed place ... AND ABRAHAM OBEYED!

Could Jonah have had this Abraham the HEBREW in mind when he gave his answer to these perplexed sailors?

Now ... here's another HEBREW, Jonah!  And he, like Abraham, heard the call of God to GO to a distant land!  But he, unlike Abraham did NOT go (at least did NOT go at first)!

One Hebrew says YES!  (The first one in the Old Testament!)  That's Abraham.

Another Hebrew says NO!  (The last one in the Old Testament!)  That's Jonah.

And the only New Testament HEBREW I can find is in Philippians 3:5 where Paul says of himself:  "Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee." 

As if not to be defeated by stubborn rebellion, God uses "inclusio" here and ends the Bible with another OBEDIENT servant.  Paul, the submissive HEBREW!

Here's the Bible "pattern:"

ABRAHAM                JONAH                        PAUL

Friend, today into what category do you fall?

An OBEDIENT Christian (like Abraham and Paul)?

Or a DISOBEDIENT one (like Jonah)?

By the way, the noun HEBREW means "one from beyond!"

Glory to God!

                                                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




I've learned an exciting NEW truth today about the two "key" Names of God (Jehovah and Elohim)! 

Again, notice with me Jonah 1:9 --- "And he (Jonah) said unto them, I am an Hebrew; and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land."

The Name LORD translates (as you know) the word we call "Jehovah."  It literally is 4 Hebrew letters (all consonants) and is called the Tetragrammaton by Bible scholars.  It is spelled YHVH or YHWH.  It quite surely contains the Hebrew verb that simply means "to be" and would be translated "I AM!" 

Now I have always taught and preached that this Name speaks of God's eternal essence! He is always the same!  He is the same yesterday, today and forever!  He never changes!

BUT just recently I have learned an additional truth!  The Name highlights not just God's eternality ... but (maybe even more so) His Presence!  The Name could be said to mean "I am present!"  Therefore, Jehovah is the eternal I AM Who is ALWAYS PRESENT with and for His people!  (Has always been present ... is present ... and always will be present!)

Then notice the Name "God" which translates "Elohim."  The main "issue" with this Name is that It is plural!  Now it is NOT an adopted term merged into Hebrew from some local heathen tribal custom!  This is what the liberals say!  Neither is it an indication of polytheism (many gods)!  The God we serve is ONE GOD!  Then, again, WHY the plural Name Elohim?

I've always taught that personally it looks like a "hint" toward the Trinity!  The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are the Godhead ... yet the Godhead is ONE!

But again, recently, I've learned this additional truth!  It had escaped me for 58 years!  Elohim (as a plural) is considered grammatically to be a "plural of majesty!" In English we add "s" to the end of a word to make it plural in number.  That means two or more. To do the same thing in Hebrew ... they add the letter "m."  Hence, Elohim!  BUT in Hebrew there is not only a plural of number ... BUT ALSO A PLURAL OF MAJESTY!  Therefore in Hebrew the "plural" (the "m" ending) can add one of two things:  an emphasis on number OR an emphasis on QUALITY!  And that is exactly what we have right here!  God (Elohim being plural) is a God of great Quality and Majesty and Purity!

Additionally, YHVH (Jehovah) is the Name by which He is primarily known to the Gentiles!  And Elohim is the Name by Which He is primarily known  to the Jews! And look here at old Jonah!  He uses both Names!  Is he learning something about the great Nature of our God?  Will he respond properly to what he learns!  Will he be willing to preach Jehovah Elohim (the Lord God) both to the Jews and to the Gentiles? Only heaven will reveal the fullness of that answer!

Wow!  What can be gleaned from one little verse in a Minor Prophet (when that Minor Prophet is inspired by God)!

                                                                           --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




What a series of questions!

And all in Jonah chapter 1!

The sailors are seeking information from the runaway Prophet!

Once on the ship heading (Jonah thought) away from God ... and once the storm had "hit" ... the questions began!

                         What meanest thou, O sleeper?

                         For whose cause is this evil upon us?

                         What is thine occupation?

                         Whence comest thou?

                         What is thy country?

                         Of what people art thou?

                         Why hast thou done this?

                         What shall we do unto thee?

The building intensity of the questions seems to match the growing velocity of the storm!

Here's a man of God ... even when disobedient to his Lord ... still magnetically drawing questions from those around him!

It is ever so!

If you belong to God ... and let it be known ... you WILL draw the curiosity and interest and questions from the men and women of this world!

By the way, if there are NO questions ... there may be no difference between you and the world in which you live!  You just plainly may be too much like them to evoke any interest!

I believe Simon Peter also anticipated this "question drawing" quality of the truly Christian life!

For he said:  "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear."  (1 Peter 3:16)

Did you see the words "to every man that asketh you" in that verse?

If one is living right ... he will be like "salt!"  And real salt creates thirst!

(Of course a storm thrown in every now and then helps to "peak" the questions ... but the Lord can handle that too!)

                                                                        --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




I've come across an interesting little "verb" here in Jonah.  It is used several times. (Four to be exact.)  In our King James Bibles it is translated as "prepared."

Here it is in chapter two.  "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   It seems to me that God quite easily "prepared" this huge fish.  It's no problem for the Lord to make a great sea creature.  And, as far as I can tell, that giant animal obeyed God completely!

Next see Jonah 4:6 --- "And the LORD God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd."  Just some fresh vegetation to help comfort a grumbling preacher!  Even this is a miracle!  For that big plant to grow so quickly and in such a convenient place is a work of the Lord!  Notice please there there's no implied difficulty in God so creating such an unusual plant!  It nearly sounds like a tree!

Then Jonah 4:7 tells us:  "But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered."  And God's little prepared worm obeyed Him completely as well! 

Are you counting? 

The Lord just seems to have no trouble "preparing" things!

Even in Jonah 4:8 --- "And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live."  God controls the wind!  He prepared its velocity and direction and consequences!  (And, as again and again in the life of Jesus, the wind "obeyed!")

Here's my point today.  Four times in Jonah God prepared things apparently effortlessly!  (Fish, gourd, worm and wind!)

BUT when it came to preparing a preacher ... that was a different situation! 

It took time and effort and compassion and (what else) to even partly get old Jonah ready to obey the Lord!

In fact, the book ends with God still trying to fully prepare this Prophet's heart

These old ways of ours can be stubborn!

And, what a shame it is!

We should yield ourselves to Him as easily as did the fish or the wind!

Let God prepare you today, dear friend!

                                                                     --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




Jonah's "Psalm" in chapter 2 is interesting!

In it he describes his ordeal with the great fish!  He tells us about being thrown overboard!  He describes going under water!  He even relates how seaweeds wrapped themselves around his head as he sank!  He went so low that he was entangled in the "mountains" below the ocean surface!  He felt as if he was in "prison" there!

He describes his lowest point like this:  "Out of the belly of hell cried I!"  (Jonah 2:2)

Later he added "Thou (God) hast brought up my life from corruption!"  (Jonah 2:6)

These words of Jonah have led some scholars to believe that Jonah actually died ... and God raised him from the dead to go preach to Nineveh!  The word "hell" in verse 2 is "sheol," which is translated "grave" 31 times in our King James Bible!  (And "hell" 31 times and "pit" 3 times!)  Others just believe that Jonah was as far down as he could go .. before he cried out to God for help! 

Either way ... this truth remains the same:  Jonah found God real to his soul when at the lowest point of all his life!

This could be said of many in Scripture!

Ask Naaman the leper!

Or Bartimaeus the blind man!

Or Lazarus the dead man!

Ask Mary Magdalene the demon possessed woman!

Or Onesimus the runaway slave!

Jonah proves the point made by David in Psalm 139:7-10.  "Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?  If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.  If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;  Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me."

In such bad shape, Jonah found God real in his life!  Listen again to the prophet:  "I cried, and Thou heardest my voice!"  (Jonah 2:2)  He then adds "O Lord my God!"  (Jonah 2:6)  Plus his great declaration:  "Salvation is of the Lord!"  (Jonah 2:9)

Here's what I'm thinking:  if God was with Jonah at his lowest moment ... might He not also be with us at our lowest point?

Yes!  Yes!  Yes!

"He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."  Hebrews 13:5

"And, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen."  Matthew 28:20

Even after the rapture it will be true:  "Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord."  1 Thessalonians 4:17

What a faithful Saviour we have!

Praise His dear Name today!

It's an hour later now.  I had thought this study was complete.  But as I shaved for the day, God added to it!

Jonah's "great fish" experience can be diagramed like this ... U.  It's in the shape of a "U."  He started above board on ship.  He went down ... way down ... to the very bottom ... got right with God and started upward ... rapidly upward ... all the way back to the surface of earth and then on to Nineveh!  (That's the shape of a U again!) Up ... down ... then back up!

He found the Lord ... or really the Lord found him ... at the very bottom! 

Then I wondered, WHY is God so good at finding folks at the very bottom, the very dregs of humanity ... the chiefest of sinners?

Then it "hit" me!

I know Someone Else who experienced such a "U" situation.  You can read about Him in Philippians 2!  He began in Heaven!  Equal with God!  He came down to earth then down to into slavery (servanthood) then down to death ... even the death of the Cross (the very lowest one can go)!!!  But that is not the end of the Story!  He then went up!  Up out of the grave ... up to a mountain Top (Olivet) ... then ascended up to heaven!  Then up to the Father's Right Hand!  Then exalted up to a Name that's above every name!  (I hope you can see the "U" shape here!)

Jesus is so good at helping us low-down sinners because He came down ... all the way down ... to an Old Rugged Cross to die for our sins!  Glory to God! 

And we too shall some day be exalted with Him, completing the upper end of our final "U" experience!

It seems God is making us like Him in many ways!  We truly are being "conformed into His Image!"  Romans 8:29

And dear friend, this just MAY BE the central message of the whole Book of Jonah! (Or maybe the whole Bible!)

Praise the dear Lord!

                                                                     --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




Another "key" verse in Jonah is found at (Jonah) 2:9 where the Prophet says:  "But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD."

Jonah has been safely "rescued" from the belly of the great fish ... and he knows the Source of his deliverance!  The Lord Himself!  Thus he breaks out into praise! "Salvation (deliverance) is of the Lord!"

Now that word "salvation" is captivating!  In Hebrew it is spelled: "yeshuah" and is pronounced "yesh-oo'-ah."  It means victory or deliverance or salvation or welfare or even prosperity!

Its Bible uses range from a "whale" escape here to being redeemed from hell itself!

BUT here is an interesting fact.

Not only is "yeshuah" a common noun ... it is the basis for several Bible names too!

For example:  Joshua, Hosea and Isaiah all are derived from "yeshua!"

All have meanings that deal with the issue of salvation!

Joshua means "Jehovah is salvation!"

Hosea simply means just that:  "Salvation!"

And Isaiah means "Jehovah has saved!"

Joshua, the warrior!

Hosea the husband!

And Isaiah the preacher!


There's one more Bible Name that means "salvation!"  He is most often met in the New Testament!

It is JESUS!

His Name is also built on that Hebrew foundation ... salvation!

To say JESUS SAVES is a bit redundant!  (It's repetitive!)

Jesus means "saves!"


Let's put all these names together!

Let's "synthesize" them!

Joshua, the warrior!  (But it is Jesus THE WARRIOR!)

Hosea the husband!  (But it is Jesus THE HUSBAND!)

And Isaiah the preacher!  (But is is Jesus THE PREACHER!)

Then ... most of all ... it is Jesus THE SAVIOUR!  (The ONLY SAVIOUR!)

Truly, Jonah was right!  "Salvation is of the Lord!"

                                                               --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




The word is rather unpleasant.  But it's in the Bible.

Jonah 2:10 says:  "And the LORD spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land."

The verb "vomit" is only used sparingly in Scripture.  (No more than about 10 or 11 times!)

Here's a quick overview.

The wicked rich man, who has spend his life gorging on "riches," will some day vomit them back up!  Job 20:15 --- "He hath swallowed down riches, and he shall vomit them up again: God shall cast them out of his belly."

To those who overeat this warning is posted!  Proverbs 25:16 --- "Hast thou found honey? eat so much as is sufficient for thee, lest thou be filled therewith, and vomit it."

And several times one finds the terrible association between a drunk man and his own vomit.  For example, Jeremiah 48:26 --- "Make ye him drunken: for he magnified himself against the LORD: Moab also shall wallow in his vomit, and he also shall be in derision."

Even a land can get so "sick" of its wicked inhabitants that it "vomits" them out! Look at God work in Leviticus 18:25 --- "And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants."

Even the New Testament gets involved!  Peter, when talking about those false prophets who have departed from the faith and returned to the garbage of the world says:  "But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire."  2 Peter 2:22  (The proverb he's quoting is in Proverbs 26:11)

BUT, amazingly the most startling instance of "vomit" in the whole Bible is in Revelation 3:16!  Our Lord is talking to the Laodiceans.   "So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth."  Yes, "spue" means vomit!  God gets sick!  God vomits!

What a range of meaning!

From a great fist to THE GREAT GOD!

Friend, today I hope you're feeling well. 

BUT MORE THAN THAT ... let each of us be careful not to make God sick!  Godly living thrills our Lord!

One more example:  If God's people live in their land and obey His commands ... "Ye shall therefore keep all my statutes, and all my judgments, and do them: that the land, whither I bring you to dwell therein, spue you not out." Leviticus 20:22

What an amazing incentive to live for God!

                                                                             --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




After the experience in the belly of the great fish and after being "vomited" up on dry land, Jonah again heard the voice of God!  "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)

Quickly we are told that "Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days' journey." (Jonah 3:3)

I have enlarged and capitalized the verb "went" for you!

It's a translation of the Hebrew word "yalak" and means "to walk" (122 times in the King James Version)!

Jonah walked hundreds of miles to Nineveh!

Notice there's no mention here of a chariot or a bus or a plane ride!  In those days folks walked for long distances regularly!  But preacher, what did he do during those long days of hiking?  He was still "in school!"  Much as Paul was those 3 years in Arabia!  (Galatians 1:17 --- "Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.")  Or like Moses was those 40 years in the desert!  Graduation exercises were held at the Burning Bush Theological Seminary!  GOD was teaching his prophet!

How do you folks think Jesus traveled?  As far as I can tell from Scripture He apparently WALKED everywhere he went but once!  (Then He rode a little colt!)  The walking Saviour!  (He came to me one glorious day!)

A 900 mile walk for Jonah!  (Then three more days through Nineveh preaching God's Word!  "Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days' journey."  Jonah 3:3)

How are you Christians at walking?

You'd better be pretty good!

Listen to the Scriptures:

Genesis 5:24 --- "And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him."

Genesis 6:9 --- "These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God."

Psalm 26:3 --- "For thy lovingkindness is before mine eyes: and I have walked in thy truth."  (Compare this to 3rd John 4 --- "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.")

Romans 8:1 --- "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."

Romans 13:13 --- "Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying."

2 Corinthians 5:7 --- "For we walk by faith, not by sight."

Ephesians 4:1 --- "I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called."

Ephesians 5:2 --- "And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour."

Ephesians 5:15 --- "See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise."

Colossians 1:10 --- "That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God."

1 John 1:7 --- "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."

1 John 2:6 --- "He that saith he abideth in Him (Jesus) ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked."

There is even coming a day (our last day on earth) when we shall also say:  "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me."  Psalm 23:4

And the thing what we'll be doing for all eternity?  Revelation 3:4 tells us:  "Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy."  Forever walking with Him!

Old Jonah set a pretty good precedent, didn't he?

Walking (with God) to a city!

                                                                     --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




Today let's look at Jonah the preacher!

We have what is the essence of his great sermon to Nineveh!

Jonah 3:4 gives it to us word for word:  "And Jonah began to enter into the city a day's journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown."

That's just eight words in English!  (It's just five words in Hebrew!) 

I am absolutely sure Jonah believed he was preaching a message of judgment and doom to these wicked Assyrians! 

So sure that even after they repented he thought God might destroy them anyway! (Or at least he hoped so!)  That's exactly why he went outside the city in Jonah chapter 4 and waited around ... for some "fire" to fall!

Finally, Jonah's (and Israel's) enemies were going to be judged of God!

BUT ... Jonah's message contained more than he realized.  He preaching was "beyond" his own understanding!

See that little word "overthrown" in Jonah's sermon?  Read Jonah 3:4 again:  "And Jonah began to enter into the city a day's journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.

Well, that little verb has more than one meaning!

It is in Hebrew "haphak" and only secondarily does it mean "overthrown!"  Of its 94 times in the King James Bible, only 13 times is it translated "overthrown!"  Get this:  57 times it is translated just "turned!" 

God knew what Nineveh was going to do.  He knew repentance was in the air!  The word he has Jonah use means to "turn" (exact what repentance is)!

Jonah said more than he realized!

(Perhaps many of the Old Testament Prophets did this!  I'll guarantee you preachers something.  The Word of God we preach is so deep and so vast and so wonderful that much of what we preach is beyond us!  We never fully fathom the sublime truths we handle!  The Bible is a living Book!  It is the very Word of God!)

Jonah thought "OVERTHROWN!"

God thought "TURNED!"

Jonah lost!

God (really, the Grace of God) won!

God was again Conqueror!  (Really more than Conqueror!  Romans 8:37!)

By the way, once in the Old Testament that verb for "overthrown" is translated "converted!"  (Isaiah 60:5) 

If old Jonah had only possessed a good Hebrew lexicon!  Of course necessity would have required it to be "portable!"  It could have saved the amazing old preacher a lot of grief!

Next time you read the Bible ... remember that it may be saying a lot more than you're hearing at the moment!  It's just like David in Psalm 119:96 says:  "I have seen an end of all perfection: but thy commandment (Word) is exceeding broad."  Broad here means large, wide, vast!

What a Book is the Bible!

                                                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




The Bible teacher said this:  "The very CENTER of the book of Jonah (at least theologically) is chapter 3, verse 5: "So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them."


In Jonah (only 48 verses) e-verything before this verse leads up to the salvation of these wicked Assyrians.

And everything after this verse flows from the salvation of the Assyrians!

(Nineveh was the capital city of Assyria in Jonah's day.)

BUT isn't that true of the whole Bible?

Everything in the Bible before the CROSS leads up to that grand event of history!

And everything after the CROSS flows from the victory won there!

And the CROSS makes possible our belief!

The CROSS is God's means of our salvation!

Thank God for the repentance of Nineveh (central to Jonah)!

Thank God for the Cross of Calvary (central to the Bible)!

By the way, that's true of each of our individual lives also!

Everything before we got saved led up to that epochal event!

Everything after it flows from what happened at that epochal event!

Could hear an "AMEN" please?

Praise the Lord for "salvation!"

                                                                                 --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




A whole city repented!

I mean from the "King" right on down to the smallest citizen!

Jonah 3:8 tells us that the King said to his people:  "But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands."

Verse 10 further proclaims that they "turned from their evil way." 

Here is a genuine miracle!

Thousands of sinners were here repenting and believing!  (Jonah 2:5 says "they believed God!")

Can anyone remember what goes on in heaven when a sinner repents?

(Not to say what happens when thousands repent simultaneously!)

Let's let Jesus tell us:

Luke 15:6 --- "And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost."

Luke 15:7 --- "I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance."

Luke 15:9 --- "And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost."

Luke 15:10 --- "Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth."

Luke 15:23 and 24 --- "And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry."

That ought to be enough proof!

Heaven rejoices when sinners repent!

BUT with Jonah it's a little different!

He DOES NOT rejoice when Nineveh repents!

He sulks!

He is angry!

He rebels!

More proof?

Jonah 4:1 --- "But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry."

How "un-like" God this behavior really is!

It may be Jonah's lowest moment!

Thank the Lord we have a merciful Heavenly Father!

Dear friends, across this big wide world today there WILL be folks who truly get saved!  That's for sure!  God's people are working everywhere.  More than that ... the Holy Spirit of God is still convicting sinners and drawing them to Jesus!

In this we can rejoice!

                                                                       --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




The Passage is in Jeremiah ... but it applies to Jonah as well!

Of course Jonah lived before Jeremiah and would not have had access to this text.

In Jeremiah 18:7-8 the Lord says:  "At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy itIf that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them."

What a promise of Grace!

Jonah did finally learn this truth about God!  (Or is this the truth about God from which Jonah was running?)

Listen to Jonah while he is all mad and upset at God!

"And he (Jonah) prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil."  Jonah 4:2

What did God do wrong at Nineveh?


He was simply being true to His great Nature!

He was keeping the promise He made in Jeremiah 18!

God keeps His Word!

He is faithful!

He is unchanging!

And He is forgiving!

And we had all better say "Glory to God!"

                                                                    --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




One Bible teacher quickly made this statement.  "There are similarities between Job and Jonah!"

That started my mind to thinking!

Both experienced great trials in their lives.  These trials came from God ... and the men knew so!

Both were puzzled at the ways of God!

Both had some pretty harsh things to say about God!

Both spoke rather boldly to God!

BUT there is this difference!

Job got his problems resolved!  He repented!  He worshipped!

BUT Jonah?

We just don't know!

Think about it!

(Oh! What an amazing Book we study!)

Thank God for the Bible!

                                                                          --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




On this last day of July my heart is turned toward an old preacher named Jonah. 

Sister Norma and I have been studying him for two months now!

Let me quickly share with you a few closing observations about the "Runaway Prophet" and his 48 verse Book.

For example, notice Jonah 4:3 --- "Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live." This dear man of God is again self-centered and suicidal!  Remember Jonah 1:12.  "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."

But this "depression" text is worded in a fashion quite similar to an earlier passage of Scripture.  We are told in 1 Kings 19:4 a bit about Elijah, also at a low moment in his ministry!  "But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers."

Two Prophets!  Both discouraged!  Both have been running!  And both want their earthly lives to end!  Furthermore, as far as we know, both their ministries are about to be concluded.

But there the similarities cease!

Elijah is dejected because of persecution!  Jezebel has sworn to kill him!

Jonah's dejection is a result of unwanted success!  Of revival!  Of multitudes believing God!

By the way, count the times "I" and "my" and "me" occur in Jonah's speech of 4:2-3! Is he "self centered" here or not?  "And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.  Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live."  I've colored the personal pronouns red for you.  (No wonder he was in such bad shape!)

Jonah, get your eyes off yourself and on Jesus!

And get this closing picture of Jonah too.  As chapter 4 opens, the King of Nineveh is sitting inside the city in sackcloth and ashes, praying that the city will be spared! "For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes."  (Jonah 3:6) Meanwhile Jonah is sitting outside the city sulking and bitter, hoping the city will be destroyed!  "So Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the city."  (Jonah 4:5)  What a sad contrast!

And then there is the account of the little "worm!"  God had graciously grown a bush (tree) over Jonah's head to shield him from the sun and improve his spirit.  Then ... "God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered."  (Jonah 4:7)  One writer said, "No early bird got this worm!"  It destroyed Jonah's gourd bush!  Jonah is angry for the gourd's destruction! (Presumably he's also mad at the worm!)  And here's the whole point!  That noun for worm is "tola" and means "crimson!"  It is used of Jesus in Psalm 22:7!  There He calls Himself a "worm" ... as He dies on the Cross!  "But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people."  Jonah's frustration at the little crawling worm is a picture of his frustration at the Worm/Lamb of God, the coming Saviour of the world!  Jonah is terribly upset at the salvation of multitudes of sinners!  And that's WHY Jesus came ... to save the lost via His death on the Cross!

In Jonah's mind it was pleasant for HIM to receive God's grace!  (Deliverance from a great fish!  Safety on a 900 mile trip to Nineveh!  A gourd tree for shade! Communion with God!  Being part of God's "chosen" people!)  BUT it was NOT pleasant for God's grace to be extended to such people as those vile Assyrians, the Ninevites!  Jonah liked a "selective" grace of God, didn't he?  (As long as he could be the selector!)  He needed to learn that the grace of God cannot be harnessed or controlled!  No one tells God Almighty what to do!

Also Jonah would have loved to sit outside the city and care for a new plant/tree that shaded his head!  He would have taken up horticulture in a minute!  BUT he had no concern for the thousands of "newly-planted" little believers inside that city! They needed some care too!  But, first things first!  (I'd call that a case of "misplaced values" for sure!  We often have them too, folks!)

Lastly, watch what God was doing with Nineveh and Assyria.  This great revival occurred around 860 BC.  God spared this nation.  And in 721 BC it (Nineveh ... the Assyrian Empire) took Israel captive and dispersed the 10 tribes throughout their territory!  God spared Nineveh ... then used them to scourge His own rebellious unrepentant people!  Wonder of wonders!  Maybe old Jonah knew this was coming! After all, he was a Prophet! What an example of God's great Hand of providence!  HE is in control!  In Psalm 75:6-7 we read:  "For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south.  But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another."

Glory to His Name!

Someone let me know today if these little "glimpses" of Jonah have been a source of help.  All we're doing here is studying our Bibles together!

                                                                                --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




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