repentance in the story of jonah

from the repentance in the story of jonah reading plan

Jonah 1:1-4:11, Matthew 12:38-41

BY Amanda Bible Williams

psst – be sure to check the bottom of this post for this week’s #SheSharesTruth assignment!

Text: Jonah 1:1-4:11, Matthew 12:38-41

My (pretend) buddy Matthew Henry says the book of Jonah is “best understood by those who are most acquainted with their own hearts.” This may explain why I was an adult before I understood the true meaning of this familiar Old Testament story.

In case, like me, you’re running a little late to the party, here’s a hint: It’s not about the fish.

As it turns out, it’s really not about Jonah either, or even those undeserving Ninevites. It’s about God. It’s about His goodness, His grace, His perfectly timed mercy. Like the rest of the Bible, the book of Jonah points ultimately to Christ. As someone who has spent my life hopping around the pages of Scripture, I feel like this revelation should no longer surprise me. But it gets me, every time.

The book of Jonah is about the saving work of Christ, the boundless mercy of our God.

Jesus Himself draws the parallel in Matthew 12:40 when He says to the Pharisees, “For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (ESV). And though Jonah is indeed the Christ-figure of the story, sacrificing himself to the waves for the physical salvation of those still on the boat, there is much more than metaphor to take away here.

Jonah is a book of two remarkable redemption stories. It is the account of a rebellious Jonah who runs away from God; repents, desperately aware of the vastness of his sin; and is pulled, quite literally, from the dark depths of his self-made misery by a merciful God. And it is the story of Nineveh, a terribly wicked city one might put right in the center of a map labeled Places Least Deserving of God’s Mercy. Yet, Jonah’s obedience, delayed as it was, results in the Ninevites’ drastic and sincere repentance, and God has mercy on this town full of repentant sinners just as He had mercy on Jonah. And Jonah is ticked. Because some sinful hearts are just too far gone to be forgiven. Right?!

Wrong. Not for the God of Heaven. Not for Jesus who is the Christ.

Let’s pray that God reveals the glory of His Son in the pages of this familiar story, that the images will jump from the felt boards of our childhood into the fabric of our hearts.

Meet us here in the book of Jonah, Lord. We’re listening.



Hey loves,

We are loving this #SheSharesTruth experiment and we hope you are, too!  (Here is the list of community shares from last week)

Let’s do it again this week, shall we?

So, for Friday, we encourage you to study and share Jonah 1&2. It’s two full chapters, but we think that because the book of Jonah can be divided into two very parallel sections, studying these two chapters this week, and Jonah 3&4 next week will allow you all the opportunity to possibly approach the same scriptures we’re studying together from a broader perspective. (And if you prefer to study and share a smaller section, we think that’s great, too!)

We can’t wait to see what the Lord teaches you!

However you work (we know everyone has their own methods!), we are looking forward to Friday where you can share in your own words what the Holy Spirit is teaching you in Jonah 1&2. We’d love to have you join us!

Grace and Peace,

Post Comments (74)

74 thoughts on "repentance in the story of jonah"

  1. Nickia says:

    I am new to Shereadstruth. Honestly this is probably the first time Ive opened a bible since I was a child. I feel like I am like Jonah a lot in a sense. I know when I am supposed to do the right thing and yet when I find it to difficult, instead of turning to God to guide me, I push it aside. I need to learn to trust Him because he will guide me in the right direction everytime. As the saying goes, he only gives the hardest tasks to his strongest soldier.

  2. justemmahh says:

    Well, I just did my reading and read all your comments, and all I can say is wow! God reveals a new word to each and every one of us and it's just such a blessing :-) ….. I relate to Jonah SOOOOO much. I'm constantly running *sigh* …. Praying that this study reveals more to me about myself, and helps me start running to God as opposed to running away from Him. Bless you sisters!

  3. charmaine fritz says:

    Hello, I know it’s been awhile since I’ve been here.But I have been having trouble locating these teaching on You Version can someone tell me why? I still get the emails so I go from their but You Version was easier. BTW I can do relate to Jonah being afraid to tell people some things God has said. But I’ve been in the belly so to speak to many times. Now I tell it just like good gives it.

  4. AnnaLee says:

    Wow. I completely see myself in Jonah. Running and avoiding God, hiding from Him, until I get caught up in my own failures, and then finally crying out to Him… I can only imagine the Lord saying to Jonah, "Alright. Now that you're ready, let's go. Do what I told you. Time to get your head in the game, your heart abiding in my will." He doesn't say it like He's annoyed or full of anger at Jonah, like I sometimes feel He is toward me. He says it like a father to a stubborn child, or like a coach to a kid playing soccer who got angry at the score. Reading about Jonah's running reminds me of my own sin, making me feel all uncomfortable, but God's love trumps whatever Jonah does to run away, and during this time in my life, that's something I've NEEDED to hear.
    In my devotional time with God lately, He's been showing me that He wants me to serve. I feel like He's already told me where, like I already know… yet it's not clear and at the front of my mind. Jesus' words on signs really resonated with me because sometimes I'm the one asking for a sign when things aren't 100% clear, and I've re-realized that that's what faith is… It seems too simple, and yet I lost complete sight of it. I know it'll all come together naturally as I keep submitting everything to Him. Praise you God, for pursuing us. For never losing sight of us. For holding our hands through these things and making us into the people we are meant to be, and for never giving up on stubborn, scared, very sinful human beings. Your love never runs out. I've got to think on that more.

  5. Michelle says:

    This is my first day studying/worshipping Our Lord with SRT and loving it.. Jonah is a great read and I find myself relating in so many ways. Praise God for his loving mercy and amazing grace. God bless you all.

  6. Peggy says:

    WELCOME to ALL the new ones joining us!!!

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