Introduction: Have you ever thought you were in the wrong place at
the wrong time? The sailors on Jonah’s ship thought they had been
caught between an angry God and a disobedient prophet. However much
they wished they had skipped this voyage, it turned out to be the
blessing of their lives. Let’s dive into our watery story and learn

  1. Blind Obedience

    1. Read Jonah 1:11-14. Jonah gives the sailors instructions
      on how to end the storm and save their lives. Did they
      believe Jonah?

      1. Did they believe in Jonah’s God? (Yes, see verse 14.)

      2. If they believed Jonah and believed in Jonah’s God,
        why did they avoid the solution Jonah gave them?
        (They did not like the idea of killing Jonah by
        throwing him overboard.)

        1. What was wrong with the idea of throwing Jonah
          overboard? (They were afraid they would get into
          trouble by doing this.)

      3. The sailors were caught in a dilemma. They did not
        want to die by NOT throwing Jonah in the water. On
        the other hand, they didn’t want to kill Jonah by
        throwing him overboard. They feared they would be
        punished for throwing a man overboard to his death.
        Why would they think that obedience to God would get
        them punished? (They were already close to death.
        They feared dying in the storm. Since they were
        already close to death, there was no need to create
        any more danger for themselves.)

        1. Why did they call Jonah an “innocent man?”

          1. Do you think Jonah was innocent?

          2. Did Jonah think he was innocent?

      4. Let’s look at verse 14 more carefully. What do you
        think about the sailors telling God the whole thing
        is His fault? (The sailors believed in the power of
        God. But, they did not trust Him. This is the key to
        them calling Jonah an innocent man. They did not
        trust the judgment made by God.)

        1. Is that like us? Because we do not know God well
          enough we do not understand or trust Him?

      5. Let’s look at verse 13 more carefully. The sailors
        decide to ignore the instructions from Jonah’s God
        and do their best to save the boat. What is the
        result? (The sea gets wilder.)

        1. Why do you think that happened? (God was trying
          to teach them not to depend upon themselves.)

        2. Has this ever happened to you? You have a
          problem in your life, but instead of turning to
          God you try to work it out yourself. The problem
          then gets much worse. How do you react? (These
          sailors were new acquaintances to the Great God
          of Heaven. You would think that we would do
          better than they did. But we often find
          ourselves trying to solve our problems on our
          own instead of turning to God.)

      6. Put yourself in Jonah’s place. He is no longer
        sleeping below deck. He is fully aware of the danger
        and has instructed the sailors to throw him overboard
        to fix the problem. Instead of doing what Jonah
        thought was right, the sailors try rowing back to
        land and the storm gets much worse. Why didn’t Jonah
        throw himself overboard? Why wait for someone else
        to do it? (Jonah knows what is right, but he is
        hoping that the sailors can work this out without him
        suffering the consequences of his sin.)

        1. Is this another way in which you can identify
          with Jonah?

    2. Read Jonah 1:15-16. What do the sailors finally do? (Obey
      God and throw Jonah overboard.)

      1. How has the sailors’ situation changed as a result of
        their “blind” obedience? (They go from being dead men
        to followers of the true God.)

      2. What do you think about this formula for your life –
        obey God even though you are uncertain? (In this
        story there was nothing like obedience to convert
        these sailors. Once they obeyed, it became clear to
        them that they had chosen the right course. Their
        lives were not only saved for now, but if they
        continue to fear God and obey Him, their lives will
        be saved eternally.)

  2. Jonah Food

    1. Read Jonah 1:17-2:1. In our story so far, what does God
      control and what does He not control? (He controls the
      weather and the fish. He does not control the allegiance
      of the people.)

      1. Why are storms and fish “fair game,” but people are

    2. Last week I was visiting a church in California. The
      teacher praised the faith of Jonah – that he prayed even
      while in a fish. What do you think about Jonah’s faith at
      this point? (The NIV does not begin Jonah 2:1 with the
      word “then.” All of the other translations that I
      consulted start verse 1 with “then.” “Then” infers that it
      was after Jonah was in the fish for three days that he
      prayed. I’m not certain Jonah gets credit for great faith.
      My brother, who was with me at the church, said to me,
      “What other option did Jonah have?” )

      1. Why did Jonah wait to pray?

    3. Read Jonah 2:2. What clue does this give us as to Jonah’s
      state of mind and the reason why he prayed after three
      days and three nights? (He was absolutely desperate. He
      thought he was dead. He called to God “from the depths of
      the grave.” The New Living Translation says that Jonah
      called “from the world of the dead.”)

  3. Jonah’s Version

    1. Read Jonah 2:3-4. Litigation has shown me that two
      perfectly honest people can report the same incident in
      much different ways. Do you see what happened to Jonah in
      the same way he saw it?

      1. Do you agree that it was God who “hurled [Jonah] into
        the deep?” (I thought it was the reluctant soldiers
        who acted at Jonah’s suggestion.)

      2. Do you agree that Jonah has been “banished [by God]
        from [God’s] sight?”(My recollection of the story is
        that Jonah was the one running away, not God!)

    2. Read Jonah 2:5-10. Verse 10 makes clear that Jonah’s
      prayer (vv.1-9) takes place while he is still in the belly
      of the fish. How would you characterize this prayer?

      1. What do you find remarkable about Jonah’s “in-fish”
        prayer? (He prays as if God had already saved him.
        For example, verse 6 says, “But you brought my life
        up from the pit.” It seems to me he is still in “the

        1. Is Jonah showing faith or presumption? (Probably
          it is neither. Jonah figured that since he had
          not died yet, God must be in the middle of a
          rescue mission.)

        2. Prior to the vomit, was God already answering
          Jonah’s prayer? (Yes. He had sent the fish at
          just the right time and place. The fish saved
          Jonah from drowning.)

      2. Being swallowed by a fish must have been very scary.
        As you review verses 5-10, what do you think was the
        most frightening part for Jonah? (In verse 5 he says
        that seaweed got wound around his head. Think about
        that for a minute. You are inside a fish – it is dark
        and wet. Then soggy seaweed gets wrapped around your
        eyes and your nose. You can’t see anything and you
        cannot breathe.)

    3. God brings Jonah back to dry land! However, Jonah is
      covered with vomit. Does Jonah have any reason for

      1. Would it be fair for Jonah to say, “God, why not a

      2. Sometimes when we sin, God saves us but the
        experience leaves us a little “smelly.” Should we be

    4. Friend, is simple obedience looking better all the time?
      Obeying saved the sailors. Obeying would have saved Jonah
      a lot of grief. Why not determine today to obey God the
      first time?

  4. Next Week: Second Chances.