Introduction: We have finally come to our last study of the book of
Jonah. What kind of a picture of God have we seen in the book of
Jonah? What have we learned about His involvement in our life, His
concern, His Love, His power and His judgment? The book of Jonah ends
with a question. Can we find the conclusion to Jonah somewhere else
in the Bible? Let’s dive into our study of Jonah one last time to
remind ourselves of what we have learned about our God!

  1. The God of Power and Small Details

    1. Read Jonah 1:4,15&17. What kind of forces does God
      control? (The forces of nature. The weather and large

      1. For what important purpose does God manipulate the
        weather and the animals? (For the immediate purpose
        of getting the attention of one rebellious prophet.
        For the long-range purpose of warning the citizens of

    2. Read Jonah 4:6-7. What kind of forces does God control
      here? (Plants and very small animals.)

      1. For what important purpose does God manipulate plants
        and animals? (For the purpose of teaching a lesson to
        a rebellious prophet.)

    3. Read Matthew 8:24-27. What kind of forces did Jesus
      control here?

      1. For what purpose did Jesus control the weather?

    4. Read Matthew 21:19. What kind of forces does Jesus control
      here? (A plant.)

      1. For what purpose did He control this plant?

    5. I have asked you a series of repetitive questions. What is
      the overriding lesson for your life in these questions
      about how God uses the forces of nature in both the Old
      and New Testaments? (The lesson is that God is willing to
      use the weather, animals and plants to help draw us closer
      to Him. No element of nature is too powerful for Him to
      control. No aspect of our life is too unimportant for a
      lesson from nature. God is willing to use His power for
      our benefit.)

  2. The God of Forgiveness

    1. Read Matthew 18:23-25. Does the master’s order seem fair?
      (In the United States this is unheard of except in the
      context of child support. We have a constitutional bar
      against “involuntary servantude” and against debtor’s
      prison. The argument in favor of the fairness of this
      action is that the servant realized the potential penalty
      before he entered into the debt.)

      1. For a very unfortunate application of this rule to
        the sons of a prophet read 2 Kings 4:1.

    2. Read Matthew 18:26. Is the servant being realistic? He is
      being dishonest? (Verse 25 told us he could not repay.
      Therefore we seem to have a guy who cannot pay what he
      owes and is dishonest.)

    3. Read Matthew 18:27. What did the master give this servant?
      (He gave him more than he asked for.)

      1. Does the master know this fellow cannot pay? (Yes.
        That is no doubt why he canceled the debt.)

      2. Is there a lesson for us in this? Are we honest about
        our ability to overcome sin on our own?

        1. Is God more generous to us than we ask?

      3. Read Jonah 2:4-6. As you know, this is Jonah speaking
        from the belly of the great fish. What parallels do
        you see between Jonah and the servant of our story in
        Matthew 18?

    4. Read Matthew 18:28-29. Is the forgiven servant being fair
      to his fellow servant? Let’s have a show of hands. How
      many vote that he is being fair? How many vote that he is
      being unfair? (I vote he is being fair – except for the
      choking part. The fellow servant owes a debt. Repaying a
      debt is fair. Not repaying a debt is dishonest.)

      1. You who thought the forgiven servant was being unfair
        to his fellow servant: tell me why you voted that
        way? (It is the comparison with what just happened to
        the forgiven servant. Since mercy was shown to the
        forgiven servant, we think he should show mercy to
        his fellow servant.)

      2. Let’s look at verse 29 again. Is the fellow servant
        being dishonest about his ability to repay? (Perhaps
        not. The sum he owes is small. If the fellow servant
        can repay his debt, then we need to look again at the
        issue of whether the servant who was forgiven the
        massive debt is being fair.)

    5. Read Matthew 18:30. Is the forgiven servant being fair
      now? (Again, what really bothers us about the fairness of
      this is the comparison. The NIV Study Bible notes say that
      the forgiven servant owed his master millions of dollars
      while the fellow servant owed only a few dollars. Being
      required to pay your just debts is not unfair. However, we
      believe that showing mercy is also required for those who
      have been shown mercy.)

    6. Read Jonah 3:10-4:2. Is Jonah like the forgiven servant
      who owed a huge sum?

      1. If you said, “yes,” what do you say about the fact
        that Jonah was a prominent prophet and the Assyrians
        had a reputation for being violent and cruel?

      2. Read Jonah 4:4. Let’s assume that Jonah read our
        story of the two servants in Matthew 18. What
        argument could he make to justify his anger based on
        the principles of the Matthew 18 story? (He could say
        that his factual situation is just the reverse. He
        was the man who owed just a few dollars and the
        Assyrians were the people who owed millions.)

        1. Would Jonah be right in his argument? Does the
          extent of God’s forgiveness matter?

  3. The God of Judgment

    1. Read Matthew 18:31-34. Obviously, both the fellow servants
      and the master considered the servant who owed millions to
      be acting unfairly. Is the master acting appropriately in
      your mind?

      1. Is Jesus’ parable a correct portrayal of the attitude
        of our Father in Heaven towards us? (Read Matthew
        18:35. This is a sobering conclusion.)

    2. We always say that the Old Testament reveals a God of
      judgment and the New Testament reveals a God of love.
      Compare the levels of love, mercy and judgment that we
      have studied in Jonah with the levels of love, mercy and
      judgment shown in our Matthew 18 story?

      1. Can you reconcile the two pictures of God?

      2. What points in these stories are similar and what
        points diverge? (I think the master in Matthew 18 and
        God in Jonah act exactly the same way right up to
        Matthew 18:33. We see a consistent picture of mercy
        towards sinners.)

      3. Read Jonah 4:10-11. We have previously discussed the
        fact that the book of Jonah ends with a question and
        not an answer. Is the answer found in Matthew 18:34-35?

        1. If Jonah answers “no” to the question of Jonah
          4:11, will the Lord say to him, “Then I will
          destroy you?”

    3. Friend, are you comfortable with the picture of a merciful
      God in Jonah? Are you comfortable with the picture of God
      when we add Matthew 18:34-35 as the conclusion to Jonah?
      (I prefer judgment to be imposed on someone other than me.
      But, I am impressed with the combination of love, mercy
      and justice that we see in these two stories. Matthew 18
      focuses on the injustice of the forgiven servant. Jonah
      focuses on the love of God and His repeated efforts to
      draw Jonah to Him and convince Jonah to be merciful. Like
      with Jonah, God will over and over again go to heroic
      efforts to draw us to Him. He will try to convert our
      hearts to be merciful. But there comes a time when the
      opportunity for mercy ends. If we reject Jesus’ efforts
      on our behalf, what awaits is a fearful judgment. The
      time to choose is now. Will you give in to God’s efforts
      to change your heart? To change your attitude?

  4. Next Week: We begin a new study on the book of John. I am
    excited about that study!