Introduction: Jonah had God’s “marching instructions” for him.
Instead of marching in the correct direction, he ran off the other
way. Instead of bringing news of the Great God of Heaven to the
citizens of Nineveh, Jonah first brought the news to a group of
heathen sailors. Let’s dive into our lesson and find out how the
Lord’s work gets advanced even when we are unruly!

  1. Gods of the Sailors

    1. Jonah is on board his escape ship. Tired, he heads down to
      the hold for some “well-deserved” rest. While he is
      snoring away in the hold, something quite different is
      going on up above. Read Jonah 1:4-5. Were these
      “spiritual” sailors?

      1. In every group caught in some difficulty you have
        those who simply do not believe God exists or who
        have not taken the time to come to a firm conclusion
        on the matter. Are these sailors like that?
        (Apparently not. Verse 5 tells us that they “all”
        were afraid and “each” cried out to his own god.)

      2. How completely did these sailors trust their gods?
        (The next line continues “and they threw the cargo
        into the sea to lighten the load.”)

        1. Is that distrust or common sense?

        2. In the context of God’s people rebuilding the
          wall around Jerusalem while the enemy lurked
          nearby, read Nehemiah 4:16-18. Is this a lot
          like tossing the cargo into the sea?

      3. Looking ahead, did the sailors call for supernatural
        help from these various deities cure the problem?

        1. What does that say about honest, heartfelt
          pursuit of the spiritual journey that is best
          for you? (The idea that there are many paths to
          ultimate truth is contrary to the teachings of
          the Bible. Calling on Molech could get you

    2. Read Jonah 1:6. How serious was the storm? (The captain
      thought they were going down.)

      1. Is there another explanation, other than religiosity,
        for every one of the crew seeking help from
        supernatural sources?

      2. Since the captain is not fussy about which god gives
        them a hand, what does that tell you about his
        theology? What does that tell you about his view of
        the storm? (They are undoubtedly an experienced crew.
        I believe that one reason they are all calling out to
        the gods, any and every god, is that this storm is so
        violent they are certain it has a supernatural
        source. This is no ordinary storm. This storm is
        something very special.)

      3. Do you think Jonah called upon God?

        1. Would it be okay for Jonah to call on God? (I
          think that is God’s goal. Unfortunately, Jonah
          is sleeping.)

        2. Has that ever happened to you? You are in big
          trouble because of disobedience – yet you are
          “sleeping” when it comes to the danger and the
          possibility of God’s help?

    3. Read Jonah 1:7. Sailors have a reputation for being able
      to accurately predict the weather. Why would this group of
      meteorologists think casting lots would be an accurate way
      of diagnosing the source of the storm? (Once again, this
      shows they turned to supernatural methods when they
      thought they had a supernatural problem.)

      1. Let’s say things are not going well at home. Your
        cars need expensive repairs. The dishwasher is
        broken. The refrigerator is sounding funny. Should
        you cast lots to determine which family member is the
        cause of these problems?

        1. If you said, “No,” then why did the lot casting
          idea work for the sailors? (God intervened to
          make the lot casting accurate.)

        2. What does this teach us? (Imagine the story that
          would be told up to this point. “I was working
          this boat on a trip to Spain. A terrible storm
          arose. It was no normal storm, so I knew Molech
          was unhappy with someone on the ship. We cast
          lots and Molech directed us to the guilty guy.”
          Just because someone tells you something worked
          does not mean it is truth.)

  2. The Unruly Witness.

    1. Read Jonah 1:8. Consider the first question the sailors
      ask of Jonah. Does that question seem appropriate to you?
      (The lot was supposed to (v.7) identify the culprit.
      Instead of saying “confess what you did,” the sailors ask
      Jonah to identify who is responsible. They are not
      automatically pinning the responsibility on Jonah. They
      want to hear what he has to say.)

    2. Read Jonah 1:9. Is this answer true?

      1. Remember last week we discussed the idea that gods
        had limited “jurisdiction” and Jonah must have
        thought he could escape God’s area of influence. What
        does this answer suggest about the “limited
        jurisdiction” thinking? (Jonah now admits his God
        made everything – including the sea. Obviously, Jonah
        is within God’s jurisdiction.)

        1. When do you think Jonah decided he had made a
          “jurisdictional error?”

    1. Read Jonah 1:10-11. Capture this picture in your mind: You
      find out you have an outlaw on your ship. His sins are
      about to get you drowned. Why would you ask the outlaw
      what to do?

      1. Why not turn to your own god for an answer? (At this
        point we see that the crew is coming to the point of
        believing in the true God of heaven.)

    2. Read Jonah 1:12. We started out our lesson saying that
      Jonah ended up being a witness for God against his will.
      What kind of a witness is this?

      1. How do we normally get people to consider their
        relationship to God? (This is actually a common path
        to God. Some terrible problem in life gets our
        thoughts to turn to supernatural matters. Someone
        introduces us to the true God of Heaven and we want
        to know what we need to do to please God (and cure
        the problem, of course).)

      2. Is the proper answer that someone must die? That is
        Jonah’s answer. Is Jonah’s theology correct?
        (Remember that in Matthew 12:40 Jesus compares
        Himself to Jonah. The parallel is certainly here. By
        being willing to give up his life, Jonah saves the

    3. Read Jonah 1:13. Is this how you react to the offer of

    4. Friend, unwittingly Jonah continued his work as a witness
      for the Great God of Heaven. Would you like to be a
      witness following in the footsteps of Jonah? Or, would
      you rather just follow God’s original plan for you?

  1. Next week: Salvation Is of the Lord!