Applied Theology
by WordExplain

How to Study the Bible for Yourself

"Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before me." Jonah 1:2

An Illustration of Personal, Inductive Bible Study

on the Book of Jonah by Steve Rains.


August 21, 2007

Why Jonah Left & Where He Went

Jonah 1:1-3 

V1       What: The Word came

            Who From:  The Lord

            Who To:  Jonah son of Amittai

V2       What did the Lord Say:  Go to Nineveh

            What was Jonah to do: Cry against it (Nineveh)

            Why: the Lord had seen their wickedness


V3       Who:  Jonah

            What:  Fled to Tarshish, from the presence of the Lord

What did Jonah do:  He went to Joppa and found a ship, which was going to Tarshish & paid the fare to go on the ship 


Jonah does the same thing that I do when I knowingly sin.  I actually feel like I escape from God.  How stupid, as I really know how much he is present with me, especially after I sin.

August 27, 2007

How Jonah’s Actions Affected the Sailors

Jonah 1:4-9

 V4       Who:  The Lord

            What:  Created a great wind that caused a storm

            Where:  on the sea

            What happened:  the ship began to break up


V5       Who:  the sailors on the ship

            What:  became afraid and every man cried to his god

            What did they do:  began to throw the ships cargo overboard

            Why:  to lighten the ship

            Who:  Jonah

            Where did he go:  down below into the ship

            Why:  to go to sleep


V6       Who:  the captain

            What did the captain do:  approached Jonah

            Why:  to ask him how he could sleep and to tell him to get up and call on his God

Why did the captain want Jonah to call on his God:  he hoped that God would be concerned with the situation and they would not perish.


V7       Who:  the sailors speaking to one another

            What:  let’s cast lots to see who has caused this storm to be on us

            What was the outcome:  The result was that it was Jonah’s fault


V8       Who:  the men spoke to Jonah

            What:  the men ask Jonah many questions so they could determine why he was to blame


V9       Who:  Jonah replies to the men

            What:  I am a Hebrew and I fear the Lord God of Heaven who made the sea and dry land


When I disobey God, there is always a result to my actions.  These results may not only affect me but many others around me.

August 29, 2007 

The Men on the Ship Are Upset With Jonah

Jonah 1:10-11

 V10     Who:  the sailors on the ship

            What:  became frightened

            Why:  because they knew that Johan was fleeing from the presence of the Lord

            How did the sailors know that:  Jonah had told them


V11     Who: the sailors speaking to Jonah

            What:  what should we do with you

            Why did they ask that question:  because the sea and the storm were getting worse

Jonah Admits the Storm is His Fault

Jonah 1:12-14

 V12     Who:  Jonah speaking to the sailors

            What:  throw me into the sea

            Why:  because he knew the storm was his fault


V13     Who:  the sailors

            What:  tried to row back to land but could not

            Why:  the sea was becoming worse against them


V14     Who:  the sailors called to the Lord

            What:  they earnestly prayed for the Lord to spare them and not punish them on account of Jonah


Jonah, it seems, felt bad for disobeying the Lord because he saw how it affected the sailors.  The thing is that the people that were affected by Jonah’s disobedience became scared and concerned only for themselves instead of being concerned for Jonah and helping him overcome his disobedience to the Lord.  This is what most of us do.  We seen someone else’s disobedience and what it does but we don’t worry about how it affects that person, we worry about how it may affect us.  We want to shield ourselves instead of helping the person who has disobeyed to repentance.     

August 30, 2007

The Men on the Ship Take Action Against Jonah 

Jonah 1:15-16

 V15     Who:  the men

What:  Picked Jonah up and threw him into the sea

            Why:  the men were afraid and they blamed Jonah for situation they were in


V16     Who:  the men

            What:  offered a sacrifice

            Who to:  the Lord

            Why:  they greatly feared Him


Sometimes I take action that I think will make me feel better or make the situation that I am in better.  What I do on my own may even help me for a time, but without consulting God and being in His will, I won’t have the peace of know that I have done the right thing. 

 The Lord Gets Involved

Jonah 1: 17

 V17     Who:  The Lord

            What:  appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah

            Where did Jonah end up:  in the fish’s stomach

            Why did the fish swallow Jonah:  he had disobeyed the Lord


I can’t run and hide from God; there are always consequences to my disobedience.

 September 5, 2007

Jonah Prays to the Lord From Inside the Fish 

Jonah 2:1-9

 V1       Who:  Jonah

            What: Prayed

            Where was he:  Inside the fish’s stomach

            Who did Jonah pray to:  the Lord


V2       Who:  Jonah praying

What was his prayer:  he called out his distress to the Lord and the Lord answered him.  Jonah cried from the depths of Sheol.


V3       Who:  Jonah continues

What:  You (the Lord) cast me into the deep and the current engulfed me and the waves    passed over me.


V4       Who:  Jonah cries out in his prayer

What:  I have been expelled from your site but even so I will look again towards Your holy temple.


V5       Who: Jonah continues

What is he describing:  the water encompassed him to the point of death and that the weeds were tangled about his head


V6       Who:  Jonah continues

How did Jonah describe his despair:  I descended to the roots of the mountains. The earth with its bars was around me forever

What was his hope:  You (the Lord) have brought up my life from the pit, O Lord my God


V7       Who:  Jonah continues

            What:  While I was fainting away, I remembered the Lord

            What was the outcome:  Jonah began to pray to the Lord


V8       Who:  Jonah continues

            What:  those who regard vain idols forsake their faithfulness

            Who was he referring to:  In general all men but he was including himself


V9       Who:  Jonah rejoices to the Lord

            How:  By sacrificing to the Lord with the voice of thanksgiving

What does Jonah do:  He vows that which he says he will pay, he will pay and he recognizes that salvation is from the Lord

Jonah’s Prayer is Answered 

Jonah 2:10

 V10     Who:  The Lord

            What:  commanded the fish to vomit Jonah out of its stomach up onto dry land


From verse 1-10 Jonah is the perfect picture of me.  I run away from God and his commands and then when I get into trouble, which is most likely God punishing me for disobedience, I become full of despair and seek God out to save me and solve my situation.  Then just like in v10, God does just that.  It is quite obvious to me that I, just like most people, should see that God wants me to involve Him in all of my life.  He wants me to pray to Him before things go bad so he can guide me.  I realize that things are allowed to occur so God can teach us but even with those things we can be prayerful and obedient from the very beginning.  This recipe will undoubtedly make our life more meaningful and fill us with God’s joy.

September 7, 2007

God Commands Jonah to Preach

Jonah 3:1-3

 V1       Who:  Jonah

            What:  The word of the Lord came to him for a second time


V2       What did the Lord say to Jonah:  Arise and go to Nineveh and proclaim the proclamation

            Which I am going to tell you.


V3       Who:  Jonah

            What:  Obeyed the Lord and went to Nineveh as the Lord commanded

            How far was Nineveh from Jonah:  a 3 days walk

            What type of city was Nineveh:  an exceedingly great city


I can see clearly here that Jonah was not about to disobey the Lord again after what had previously happened to him.  Jonah did as he was told without question.  This is clearly an example of how I am to obey God when he commands me to do something.  Blind faith is what He asks for, not a questioning faith.

What Jonah was to Preach 

Jonah 3:4

 V4       Who:  Jonah

            What:  began to go through the city one day’s walk

            What was he doing:  he was crying out “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown”.

            He was warning them.


Only one verse but an important one.  Jonah not only goes to Nineveh as the Lord commanded but he spoke what the Lord wanted him to speak.  When God commands me to go he may also command me to act after I get there.  God’s plan may be very simple to follow and then again it may be very complex.  It doesn’t matter; I must just do what I am told.

September 10, 2007

The Consequences of Jonah’s Preaching 

Jonah 3:5-9

 V5       Who:  The people of Nineveh

            What:  Believed in God

            What did they do:  called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them

Note:  Sackcloth was a symbol of sorrow and repentance, it was coarse, dark cloth unfit for normal wear.  Ryrie Study Bible


V6       What:  When the word reached the king of Nineveh

 What did he do:  he arose from his throne, laid aside his robe from him, and covered himself with sackcloth and sat on the ashes.

            Note:  Sitting on ashes was a sign of helplessness and despair.  Ryrie Study Bible


V7       Who:  The king of Nineveh

            What:  issued a proclamation saying “Do not let man, beast, herd or flock taste a thing.  Do not let them eat or drink water.


V8       Who:  The king of Nineveh continues

What:  “But both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth and let men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence, which is in his hands.


V9       Who:  The king continues

            What:  “Who knows, God may turn and relent and withdraw His burning anger so that we shall not perish?”



I often hear good preaching and teaching from not only my pastor but from many other places, radio, television, and in normal conversation.  Wouldn’t it be great if I were to react always to good preaching like the king and the people of Nineveh?  When I hear the truth in God’s word I should be obedient to act immediately and affect change if need be.  I am not to just pick out the teaching that I want and apply it, I am to hear the word and live it.  Sometimes it takes drastic action just like the people of Nineveh to get started on the right track. 

September 11, 2007

God Changes His Mind About Nineveh and Spares Them 

Jonah 3:10

 V10     Who:  God

            What:  saw their deeds (people of Nineveh) and that they had turned from their wicked way

            What did God do:  relented concerning the calamity, which He had declared He would bring upon them.

            What was the outcome:  God did not go through with it


When I repent from being disobedient or doing evil (which is most likely the same thing at the same time) thank goodness God is merciful.  God does not want to punish anyone but there is a right time for everything, even God’s punishment.  In the example above God showed his great mercy to the people of Nineveh.  I can’t count how many times God has shown great mercy to me but it has been often.  I don’t deserve mercy from God.  I guess if I thought I deserved mercy it wouldn’t be mercy.  All I know is that I am grateful that God wants what is best for me.

September 12, 2007

Jonah Does Not Like God’s Decision 

Jonah 4:1-4

 V1       Who:  Jonah

            What:  Did not like the fact that God spared Nineveh and Jonah became angry

            Why was Jonah angry:  Jonah did not want the enemies of the Israel to be spared


V2       Who:  Jonah

            What did he do:  He prayed to the Lord

What was Jonah’s prayer:  To try and justify to God why he had been disobedient in the first place knowing that God was compassionate, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and that if Nineveh repented God would not destroy them.


V3       Who:  Jonah continues to pray to God

What was he requesting:  for God to take his life because Jonah felt death was better than life because of the outcome on Nineveh.


V4       Who:  The Lord

            What:  Spoke to Jonah saying, “Do you have a good reason to be angry?”.


Believe it or not I understand how Jonah felt.  There have been many times I did not want to follow what God wanted me to do even though I knew it was the right thing to do.  I would be afraid of the outcome because I knew, and know, that God is merciful and I didn’t want God’s outcome.  I wanted mine.  Then after being obedient, God doing only what God can do, I would be irritated and even feel cheated; just like Jonah.  “It just isn’t fair” is what I would think and even ask God “Why do you show compassion or mercy on those people or that situation?”  When I read this I realize that is simply is not my place to try to out think God.  If I proclaim that He indeed knows what is best for me then I should just obey.  Obedience, it seems like that is the main topic of the book of Jonah to this point.  It is quite obvious to me that it is my main obstacle between God and me.

September 14, 2007

God Uses a Plant in an Object Lesson to Jonah 

Jonah 4:5-11

 V5       Who:  Jonah

            What:  Left the city to the east and sat down.  He made a shelter for himself and sat the the shelter in the shade.

            Why:  He wanted to sit in the shade and watch was would happen in the city


V6       Who:  The Lord God

            What:  Appointed a plant and grew it up over Jonah to be a shade over his head

            Why:  to deliver Jonah from the heat and his discomfort.

            How did Jonah react:  he was extremely happy about the plant


V7       Who:  God

            What: appointed a worm

            Why:  to attack the plant to kill it

            When: at dawn the next day


V8       When:  when the sun came up

 Who:  God

What did God do:  appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on Jonah’s head to the point that he became faint

What was Jonah’s reaction:  he begged with all his soul to die, saying, “Death is better to me than life”.


V9       Who:  God said to Jonah

            What:  “Do you have a good reason to be angry about the plant?”

            Who:  Jonah replies to God

            What:  “I have good reason to be angry, even to death.”


V10     Who:  The Lord said to Jonah

What:  “You have compassion on the plant for which you did not work and which you did not cause to grow, which came up overnight and perished overnight.


V11     Who:  God continues

What:  “Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?”


Jonah reveals what most of us are like.  We want God to comfort us and to spare us and to show us mercy.  But when it comes to those I don’t like, or those I care little for, I want them to receive God’s judgment without mercy.  I think “They deserve what they get”.  Thank goodness I don’t get what I deserve from God and thank goodness no believer gets what they deserve from God.  Compassion is what God shows me and that is what he wants me to learn.  It’s real easy for me to show compassion on those closest to me but those who are not, I give little thought.  There are consequences for that type of attitude.  Because of that I desperately need to reshape my thinking.  

Acknowledgements and thanks to Steve Rains for permitting WordExplain to publish his own study on Jonah.

January, 2008

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WordExplain by James T. Bartsch

(Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.  Used by Permission.)

Published November 8, 2010

Updated August 8, 2016

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