Introduction: Which would you rather do, predict military success for
your country or help the enemy of your country? Unless you don’t like
your country, the answer is easy. Think about how popular you are
predicting success, and how unpopular you are helping the enemy.
These questions give us insight into our study this week about the
prophet Jonah. 2 Kings 14:25 tells us that Jonah predicted military
success for Israel. No doubt he was a national hero. Then God came to
him with a different missionary ministry. Let’s plunge into our study
of the Bible and learn more!

  1. The Mission

    1. Read Jonah 1:1-2. This doesn’t sound too bad from a
      patriot’s point of view, does it? Preach against the
      enemies of your country!

      1. What is the small problem? (Jonah is told to go to
        Nineveh to preach against it. Not stay home in
        Israel and preach against Nineveh.)

    2. Read Jonah 1:3. Why do you think Jonah ran?

  2. The Storm

    1. Read Jonah 1:4-6. How can you explain such a deep sleep?
      The storm is so violent that the ship might break, yet
      Jonah is able to keep sleeping! (I think this reflects the
      deep stress he experienced in making the decision to run.
      He is just exhausted now.)

    2. Read Jonah 1:7-9. Are these religious sailors? (Yes. They
      believe in divine lot and not chance.)

      1. What is the state of Jonah’s faith? (He still
        believes in God even though he is currently rebelling
        against Him.)

    3. Read Jonah 1:10-12. What do you think is God’s goal in
      this? Kill Jonah? Stop Jonah?

      1. What happened to the free will that we discussed in
        the first lesson? Recall the two trees, choice
        architecture and channel factors? (This is a huge
        channel factor!)

    4. Read Jonah 1:13-14. What did the sailors think would
      happen to Jonah if they threw him in the sea? (He would

      1. Are the sailors correct about who is morally
        responsible for Jonah’s death?

      2. Are they limiting God? Making assumptions about God?

      3. Would you have such a generous attitude towards Jonah
        if you had just lost your cargo?

    5. Read Jonah 1:15-16. Is Jonah an unwitting missionary?
      (Yes! He manages to convert the sailors on the boat.)

  3. The Fish

    1. Read Jonah 1:17 and Jonah 2:5. If Jonah ran because of
      fear, imagine being tossed into the water and then
      swallowed by a big fish? Would it help to have seaweed
      wrapped around your head? (This has to be terrifying.)

    2. Read Jonah 2:1-2. How desperate is Jonah’s situation? (He
      thinks he is calling from hell, the “depths of the

      1. When I was young I was told that if I was not obeying
        God, He would not listen to my prayers. What does
        Jonah’s situation teach us? (Even though Jonah is in
        rebellion, God both listens and answers!)

    3. Jonah’s prayer in Jonah 2:3-9 goes from thinking he will
      die, to optimism, to making a new vow to follow God. If
      you were Jonah, would you want God leaning on you this
      hard to make the right choice?

    4. Read Jonah 2:10. What results from Jonah’s prayer and his
      change of heart? (He is delivered from the fish which had
      delivered him from the storm.)

  4. Nineveh

    1. Read Jonah 3:1-3. Is Nineveh a tourist attraction? It
      takes three days to see all the museums and take all the
      rides? (Several commentaries say Nineveh was 60 miles in
      circumference. It took three days to walk around it.)

    2. Read Jonah 3:4. How would you feel if you were Jonah? You
      are an alien in a huge city bringing the incredible
      warning that it will be defeated!

      1. When I’ve studied this story before, I learned there
        were reasons for Jonah to fear. The Assyrians (who
        live in Nineveh) are mean people. They drop people on
        sharpened posts. They put live people into walls and
        seal them up. Which would you prefer, being swallowed
        by a fish or dropped on a sharpened spike?

    3. Read Jonah 3:5-6. How do you explain this? (The power of
      the Holy Spirit!)

      1. Recall the question about choosing between the fish
        and the spike? What does this outcome teach us? (We
        do not need to choose. We can trust God to be

    4. Read Jonah 3:7-9. What is the result of Jonah cooperating
      with the fabulous God of Heaven? (The people of this great
      city turn to God! Think not only about the spiritual
      impact, think about the political impact. The Assyrians
      were the super power of the time. They had an evil
      reputation. They are now followers of God!)

    5. Read Jonah 3:10. What does this teach us about the
      character of God?

  5. Unhappy Prophet

    1. Read Jonah 4:1-2. Is Jonah the ideal prophet? Are Jonah
      and God on the same page when it comes to the love of God?

      1. Do you think Jonah is lying about his reason for
        running to Tarshish?

      2. Why is God’s love and compassion a reason to run?
        (Jonah told them destruction would take place in
        forty days. If it does not, it makes him look like a
        false prophet.)

      3. Assume you are Jonah and are telling the truth. Look
        again at Jonah 3:4. How could you present this to
        avoid the false prophet problem? (Forty days gave the
        people an opportunity to repent – which they did.
        Jonah could have added the obvious warning that they
        needed to repent.)

    2. Read Jonah 4:3-4 and re-read Jonah 2:2. Do you think that
      Jonah is telling the truth about wanting to die? He just
      got through asking God to spare his life while in the
      fish! (In the United States we would call Jonah a “drama
      queen” – someone who is overly dramatic.)

      1. How does God react to the drama queen? (God is kind
        and reasonable with him.)

    3. Read Jonah 4:5. What is Jonah expecting when he waits to
      “see what would happen to the city?” (He is still hoping
      God will destroy it!)

    4. Read Jonah 4:6-9. What do you think about Jonah’s

    5. Read Jonah 4:10-11. What does this say about the
      educational system in Nineveh? Does this mean that 120,000
      people did not learn which hand was which? (This is a
      reference to people who are so young that God does not
      hold them accountable for sin. Nineveh had many young

      1. Does God care about animals? (Yes. I think God’s
        point is that an animal is more important than
        Jonah’s vine.)

      2. Why is Jonah so concerned about a plant, rather than
        people and animals? (Because the plant was doing
        Jonah some good. It provides shade for him. We see
        that Jonah is selfish.)

    6. Would you choose Jonah for a friend?

      1. Why did God choose him to be His prophet?

      2. Why did God chase after Jonah?

      3. Why is God engaging with Jonah when Jonah is being
        petulant? A selfish drama queen? An unloving

    7. Consider this a moment. Jonah lacks emotional
      intelligence. He is selfish. He has character defects.
      History records that the Assyrians in Nineveh were evil.
      What does this tell us about our God? (He loves us and He
      pursues us even when we do terrible things.)

    8. Friend, God wants you! God wants you despite your
      defects! Why not, right now, choose to follow the God who
      shows an incredible amount of patience and love?

  6. Next week: Exiles as Missionaries.