Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.” 3 So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three days’ journey in breadth. 4 Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” 5 And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.
6 The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. 7 And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water, 8 but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. 9 Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.”
10 When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
Questions to Consider:
1. Jonah is officially considered a book of prophecy, but what other category of biblical literature (apocalyptic, epistle, wisdom, historical narrative, etc.) does it seem to fit into? What is the theme or purpose of the book of Jonah? Who are the main characters?
2. Verse 1 says this was the second time the word of the Lord came to Jonah. What was His word the first time, and what happened? How was Jonah’s response to God different this time? (3)
3. What was Jonah’s message to Ninevah? (4) Who were first to hear and respond to Jonah’s message, the people or the king? (5-6) Who initiated the fasting, sackcloth, and repentance? (5-6) Whom does verse 5 say the people believed?
4. What does verse 9 seem to indicate was the king’s primary motive for repentance, at least initially- avoiding the consequences of sin, or sorrow that he and his people had grieved God? Compare the king’s words with these passages. Explain the Bible’s emphasis on repentance from the heart.
5. In what ways does Jonah prefigure Christ? How was Jonah’s ministry in this passage similar to Jesus’ ministry? Compare the people they preached to and the message they preached. How does the mercy God showed the Ninevites (10) point ahead to His mercy toward us, through the cross, when we repent and place our faith in Christ?
Jonah is a fantastic little book. If you’d like to check out my 12 lesson, on line study of Jonah, click here.