34. Jonah, Quite A Character


By Alyssa Clark

‘Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold.’ Helen Keller

Jonah, a prophet of God, was called to take a journey. God wanted Jonah to preach to Nineveh, a great city drowning in sin. It would have been a relatively short trip from where he was, near Joppa (modern day Jaffa, Israel) to Nineveh (near modern day Mosul, Iraq). About 800 miles, give or take. However, Jonah was very afraid.

So afraid, that instead of taking his fear and giving it over to God, he took it upon himself to make a ‘better’ plan and flee to Tarshish (Southern Spain) across an entire sea, and away from God. Close to 3,000 miles away!

As we know, Jonah was thrown from a boat, swallowed by a ‘big fish’ where he stewed for three days, then was vomited back onto dry land. I’m not sure where he was exactly at that point, but I can tell you that Jonah went STRAIGHT to Nineveh from there!

Questions for Discussion

‘The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: ‘Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.’ But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD.’ Jonah 1:1-3

A Calling and A Choice

This is the part of the story where we usually scold Jonah and make fun of him trying to hide from God. But we must realise just how dangerous a job he’d been given. Nineveh wasn’t just a rough place, it was THE WORST place, packed with sin and all things anti-God. This was the most terrible town to be in, especially for someone trying to preach about goodness and following God.

1. Have you ever had to travel to or through a scary place? Or did you avoid it altogether?

2. What other Biblical places had God sought to punish or warn of impending judgment?

3. How soon after his calling did Jonah decide to flee? Did he take time to think through his actions (or their repercussions)?

The Turning Point

A Prayer from the Deep

Read Jonah 2

1. Why did Jonah praise God?

2. What did he tell God he would see again?

3. What was the vow he promised to keep?

Jonah’s Calling vs. Jonah’s Choice

Bravery over Fear

1. What was Jonah called to do? What was his God-given mission?

2. What did Jonah initially choose to do?

3. Have you tried to do things out of fear instead of being brave and having faith that God would provide for the circumstance?

4. Where else in the Bible do we see a person/people allowing fear to guide his/her/their actions instead of trusting God’s wisdom?

5. What action did Jonah take after realising the error of his choice?

6. How can we stay brave and choose faith in the face of fear?

Faith over fear is the ultimate bravery. Not knowing what is to come but still allowing the Holy Spirit to lead and for God to provide his protection and peace teaches us exactly where our strength lies.

We know we are nothing, can do nothing, and will be nothing without strength from above.


"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect."