Skip to Content

5 Life Lessons From Jonah in the Bible

In this article When we look at Jonah in the Bible you will discover incredible life lessons that can be applied to our daily walk with God. You will see how this Jonah Bible study has changed the way I look at obedience and repentance. So, grab your Bible and let’s dig in…

Jonah Bible Study

I have learned 5 keys from the life of Jonah that I want to share with you! These past few months I have been doing the Jonah Bible study from Priscilla Shirer with my good friend Ana. Not to mention I did an Old Testament survey on him as well.

Lessons from Jonah in the Bible. Bible Study with key insight.

It’s been an amazing journey to take a deeper look at this Old Testament prophet. The book of Jonah is short and a lot of time we can read through it quickly. Not stopping and chewing on what the scripture is trying to show us.

Or let’s be really honest when we think of Jonah we just think about the whale (or “Big Fish”). We stop there and think of it as a fun story especially for children’s church.

This is why it’s great to do a Bible study on these types of books in the Bible. Digging deep and having the Holy Spirit reveal truths to us is how we start to grow and mature.

So, I hope my Bible study on Jonah encourages you to take a second look at Jonah.

A Quick Summary of Jonah

Jonah in the Bible being tossed into the water
Jonah being tossed out into the water – Jonah 1

Short little Melissa style summary and insight:

*If you are not familiar with the story of Jonah…spend some time reading it. It’s only 4 short chapters. You can read it here on Bible Gateway: Book of Jonah NIV and Book of Jonah NKJ

TIMELINE: Jonah is a prophet during the reign of King Jeroboam II. That’s after the prophet Elijah but before Amos and Hosea.

Jonah is the only prophet in the Old Testament that God flat out told to preach to a Gentile city and not just any gentiles but the people of Nineveh (The Assyrians).

These people were extremely cruel towards Israel and caused a lot of problem in the past. To top it off Nineveh is 800 miles away.

Jonah would have to travel this by horse/camel. This would take him weeks if not months!


The Pony Express riders would travel around 75 miles a day, interchanging horses every 5-20 miles. So, you know for Jonah it would be a BIG deal to travel to Nineveh. Could you imagine how many times you would hear your kids say…. “Are we there yet?” God have mercy!

Jonah, of course, tells God, “it ain’t going to happen!” and runs away in the polar opposite direction of Ninevah.

Jonah Bible meme

This blatant rebellion leads Jonah a not so fun boat ride. A bad storm happens and Jonah actually has the courage to let everyone know it’s his fault because he’s running away from God.

Long story short they toss him overboard, but before doing so they ask God to forgive them. “We pray, O Lord, please do not let us perish for this man’s life, and do not charge us with innocent blood; for You, O Lord, have done as it pleased You.” – Jonah 1:14

Then the fun stuff happens… Please observe picture below”

Jonah and the whale meme

Jonah stays 3 days inside the whale and Jonah cried out to God. Here is part of the prayer in Jonah 2.

“I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction,
And He answered me.

“Out of the belly of Sheol I cried,
And You heard my voice.
 For You cast me into the deep,
Into the heart of the seas,
And the floods surrounded me;
All Your billows and Your waves passed over me.
 Then I said, ‘I have been cast out of Your sight;
Yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.’
 The waters surrounded me, even to my soul;
The deep closed around me;
Weeds were wrapped around my head.
 I went down to the moorings of the mountains;
The earth with its bars closed behind me forever;
Yet You have brought up my life from the pit,
O Lord, my God.

God then tells the whale to throw Jonah up. Jonah then goes to Ninvaha, tells them to repent and the whole city believes Jonah and repents. The first gentile revival just took place.

Oddly enough Jonah was not too happy about that. He’s actually ANGRY at God. He was hoping God was going to call down fire on everyone.

So, Jonah has a pity party and God tries to show and teach him His compassion towards mankind with a plant giving him shelter and worm.

Now that we had a short summary…let’s get down to business! To see what we can learn from the life of Jonah. But don’t forget to download my free Jonah character study pdf!


FREE Jonah Character Overview Printable 

Sign up for my newsletter and you will receive the Jonah character overview. Plus FULL access to my printables vault! It has a ton of practical and fun things to print that will help you in you grow in your walk with God! Wahooooo! 🎉

Thank you for subscribing!

5 Key Lessons from the Life of Jonah

Here is a little quick video to watch… For more information please keep reading.

Key 1 – God has no problem removing you from your comfort zone

Jonah 1:1-2 – 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.”

Jonah was comfortable….

He was a prophet in a nation he is proud of. Then all of sudden God decided to come between Jonah and his patriotism. He asked him to go somewhere Jonah would NEVER want to go.

And Jonah has good earthly reasons why, but God looks beyond the earthly and looks through His spiritual eyes.

God will move you out of a place of comfort to see a greater level of breakthrough for yourself and for others. For Jonah a whole city was ready to repent, but for that to happen he would have to leave his comfort zone.

Sometimes God will ask us to step out or step up. It’s not always easy or fun, but at the end of it, there is a beautiful reward.

It’s like what my pastor says, “Earthly obedience, brings forth spiritual release. “

Key 2 – You Can’t Run Away From God

Jonah 1:3 – 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.

Jonah flat out doesn’t want to go to Nineveh. He decides the best thing to do is leave Israel and go in the polar opposite direction to Tarshish, which is said to be near Spain.

My honest opinion of why he did that was in hopes that he could escape from God’s presence. As we know it didn’t really work too well for him.

The psalmist in Psalm 139 makes it pretty clear:

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

You can try to hide, move, go away, either physically or even internally with your emotions, but it’s futile.

God sees and knows. He is always there.

Key 3 – Disobedience will Create Turmoil in your Life

Sometimes when we read Jonah we shake our heads and go “seesh… really?” He gets tossed around by a storm and swallowed by a whale (or big fish…whatever floats your boat)

Disobedience is a big deal when it comes to God. It has spiritual ramifications that affects both our spiritual life, and daily life.

When we accept Jesus and our “Lord” and Savior, then we need t to not just talk the talk but actually walk the walk.

The word Lord means someone or something having power, authority, or influence; master or ruler. When God speaks to our heart to do something we should take intitive.

Side note on Vs 15- 16 (Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. At this the men greatly feared the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to him.)

It rocks my world that Jonah is running away from God and causing a huge storm (ahem…mess) actually got people to offer sacrifices and make vows to the Lord.

Even in our failures, God can use it for good! Thank you, Jesus!

Key 4 – With Repentance Must Come Obedience

All 4 chapters of Jonah paints this picture of how we are to process our sin or disobedience before God.

  • Jonah 1-2 Acknowledge our sin
  • Jonah 2 Accept God’s Discipline
  • Jonah 2 Repent
  • Jonah 3 Act on God’s direction

Whenever we are in a situation where we have turned our back on God it’s important to follow these four steps. Only true repentance can happen when we acknowledge and are willing to go in God’s direction.

Key 5 – We Must Learn To See The Bigger Picture & Have a Soft Heart

In chapter 4 of Jonah, we see a man who is angry, because God decided to have mercy. We all have our opinions, and ideas about how things should happen or be.

But those things need to bow down to God’s ways. We must realize we don’t see it all, we don’t understand it all. We must keep our hearts soft lest anger and bitterness come in.

It’s easy to be triggered when things don’t go the way we plan, but we need to surrender our will to His will.

I hope these 5 keys have made you hungry to dive more into God’s word. There are treasures to be learned and applied in every chapter. These are only 5 things…there are more!

If you want to learn more about Jonah…check out Priscilla Shirer Jonah Bible Study. I’m sure it will bless you like it has blessed me

Let me leave you with this quote..

Jonah did not weep over the city, but Jesus, the true prophet, did. . . . Here is a perfect heart—perfect in generous love—not excusing, not harshly condemning. He is the weeping God of Jonah 4 in human form. . . . [And] Jesus did not merely weep for us; he died for us. Jonah went outside the city, hoping to witness its condemnation, but Jesus Christ went outside the city to die on a cross to accomplish its salvation.

Tim Keller
The Prodigal Prophet: Jonah and the Mystery of God’s Mercy

I would love to hear from you! So, please feel free to drop me a comment or take a look at my similar posts in my Christian Faith Articles page! And don’t forget to download the Jonah Character Overview PDF!


FREE Jonah Character Overview Printable 

Sign up for my newsletter and you will receive the Jonah character overview. Plus FULL access to my printables vault! It has a ton of practical and fun things to print that will help you in you grow in your walk with God! Wahooooo! 🎉

Thank you for subscribing!

I accept the Privacy Policy

Davies Kabange

Tuesday 6th of December 2022

I like this commentary, indeed there are great lessons to learn from Jonah's situation.

Jonathan Mwenya

Sunday 16th of October 2022

I enjoy the Bible study and I want to be a blessing to others


Wednesday 13th of October 2021

I enjoyed your Bible Study today on Jonah very much.. it was a blessing. I am so grateful for technology. Thank you for having available online. πŸ™πŸΌπŸ™πŸΌπŸ‘πŸΌ


Saturday 15th of May 2021

Wow,what an insightful and eye opening summary of the story of Jonah,,It personally addresses me ,I have been getting saved and backsliding for 3 times now and recently I decided to follow the Lord's teachings ..Lord bless you Melissa Tumino


Monday 29th of June 2020

Hi, I am Florence, from Namibia. I have resendly taken a great intrested in how you teach and love the clarity on your lessons...helps me understand things better and assist in applying them to my daily work with God. Thank you