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International Bible Lessons Commentary

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"Jonah: A Happy Ending?" teaching from Jonah 4

When God begins the loving, redeeming discipline of His individual children, God does not fail. To encourage Christians, Paul wrote: “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).

Jonah ends abruptly; first, because God had His purposes to end Jonah with Chapter 4, verse 11; second, perhaps because Jonah in his humility was so ashamed of his behavior that he did not want to write more after he returned to loving faith and obedience to God.

From Jonah, chapters 3 and 4, we know that God saved the Ninevites and was concerned that they did not know their right and from their left hand; which means, they did not know right from wrong, good from evil, the law of God, or very much about God. We may speculate, because the Bible does not tell us so, that after God lovingly redeemed Jonah He sent him back to Nineveh to teach the people about God, God’s character, and the law of God so they could live according to the will of God. Tradition, not the Bible, says Jonah was buried in Nineveh, and recently the supposed tomb of Jonah was destroyed in Mosul, Iraq, the former site of Nineveh. Do you think Jonah’s life had a happy ending after chapter four?

God also exercises just discipline or just punishment. Because of Israel’s continual refusal to listen to the prophets God sent them with God’s words of warning, because they refused to repent and obey God, God exercised just punishment upon the Kingdom of Israel. The Assyrians (whose capitol was Nineveh), destroyed the Kingdom of Israel in 722 B.C. and dispersed the Israelites. Many of those dispersed, like Jonah, perhaps came under the redeeming discipline of God and were saved. Some years later, the Ninevites forgot God and refused to obey God. Probably after warning the people once again, God destroyed the city of Nineveh in 612 B.C using the Babylonian army. As kingdoms, both Israel and Assyria suffered the same just punishment after their continual refusal to accept God’s gracious offer of salvation.

How amazing and gracious that God sent His only begotten Son into the world that the good news of salvation could be broadcast to all people all around the world that untold millions could be saved! Consider John 3:16-18 — “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”

You might ask your class how they think Jonah ended beyond chapter 4.

Go to the International Bible Lesson Commentary and International Bible Lesson for additional Uniform Sunday School Lesson Series Resources.

May God bless your teaching this Sunday!


  • Thank you for the "Happy Ending?" . This teaching gives the teacher and class members food for thought.  God loves the Ninevites as he loves Jonah and us.

    So many teachings never think about Jonah's response.  i.e. God's completing His work in Jonah.

    Janice Moss
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