Introduction: Will God let us run away from obedience to Him? If you
say, “yes,” then how easy is it to run away? The book of Jonah
suggests it is not an easy thing to run away from God. If we equate
obedience to God with eternal salvation, God’s persistence shows His
attitude toward our salvation. Do you think God works as hard to
bring us back to Him as He worked to bring back Jonah to his
assignment? Let’s jump back into our study of how God reeled Jonah
back to Him!

  1. The Big Vow

    1. Read Jonah 2:9. Remember that Jonah is presently in the
      big fish. What is Jonah promising God? (Jonah has made a
      vow (a promise) to God.)

      1. What do you think Jonah promised? (At some point in
        the storm/fish experience, Jonah must have promised
        God that if he got out of this alive, he would serve
        God again.)

      2. In the law we have something called “duress.” You can
        get out of an agreement if you are subject to duress.
        Here is an example: a fellow sues me because I
        refused to sell him my car for $50.00. When we get
        to court the judge asks me if I promised to sell the
        car for that amount. I saw, “Yes, Judge, I did agree
        to that. However, at the moment the “buyer” was car-jacking my car and had a gun to my head.” The gun to
        the head part of the explanation is technically known
        as “duress” and it allows you to get out of the
        promise because it was not freely made. Does Jonah
        have a duress defense to his promise?

        1. What effect does the first part of verse 9 have
          on Jonah’s duress defense? (Jonah says that he
          gives thanks to God for his situation. This
          doesn’t sound like duress to me.)

      3. Consider your life. Are all of your decisions about
        good and evil made under duress? (Ever since Adam and
        Eve sinned, we are all destined for death. God
        offers us a way out. That seems like a rescue mission
        to me rather than duress.)

      4. The “duress defense” is a claim that you never
        willingly agreed. Will God save anyone who just goes
        through the motions, but does not willingly agree to
        follow Him? (God is willing to reel us back, but
        duress is ultimately not part of the program because
        God only accepts willing obedience. See Luke 10:27-28.)

  2. The Big Spit

    1. Read Jonah 2:10. Would God have commanded the fish to
      vomit out Jonah if he had not vowed to obey God?

      1. If you answered “no,” is this a universal principle
        which applies to our life?

    2. Put yourself in God’s place. Why does God choose this
      moment to put Jonah back on dry land? (The rescue has been
      completed, the lesson has been taught, it has apparently
      had the proper effect, and so it is time to release Jonah
      to go on his way.)

    3. Again, put yourself in God’s place. Of all of the ways
      that God could have saved Jonah, why choose this one?

      1. Could Jonah have ever predicted this method for his

        1. No doubt Jonah originally asked himself, “If I
          do not obey God, what will happen to me?” What
          do you think was his answer at the moment he
          decided to run away?

      2. Was the fact that the “storm/fish-method” involved no
        human assistance an important factor in God’s
        thinking? (I think this is God’s point. God gave
        Jonah unmistakable evidence that He is behind both
        the problem and the rescue. Jonah cannot credit any
        of this to simple chance or human effort. What are
        the odds of this just happening? God’s name is
        written all over this big adventure.)

  3. The Big Second Opportunity

    1. Read Jonah 3:1. When is the last time that God spoke to
      Jonah? (The beginning of our story: Jonah 1:2)

      1. Why do you think God has not spoken to Jonah all this

      2. Why has God used events, rather than words, to
        influence Jonah?

      3. I have heard Christians say that they were waiting
        for God to direct them, but He never did. What does
        Jonah’s story teach us about that? (As long as Jonah
        was pulling away from God, God did not speak directly
        to him. God used nature to bring Jonah to his senses.
        When Jonah was ready to be obedient, God spoke to
        him. Consider this from God’s point of view. If Jonah
        is not doing what God told him to do, why speak to
        Jonah again? God already said what needed to be said
        to give direction to Jonah’s life.)

    2. Read Jonah 3:2. What assignment did God give to Jonah?
      (The same one as before. God brought Jonah back to the
      same place and said, “Let’s try this again.”)

      1. Has God brought you around a second time on
        requirements that you failed before?

      2. Have you noticed several opportunities to obey on the
        same issue that troubles you?

      3. Do you think that God worked harder on bringing Jonah
        back than he does for the “average guy?”

        1. If you say, “no,” does anyone have an excuse for
          missing salvation?

  4. The Big Surrender

    1. Read Jonah 3:3. What is the result of God’s pursuit of His
      prophet? (Jonah finally obeys.)

    2. In the early lessons of this study we discussed the
      reasons why Jonah would not want to go to Nineveh. These
      included witnessing to the enemy (when Jonah was a
      patriot), fear of physical harm from the Assyrians, and
      Jonah’s worry ( Jonah 4:2) that God might not do what He
      said. If you were Jonah, how would your storm/fish
      experience alter your views on these potential problems?

      1. How is your view of witnessing to the enemy affected?
        (The sailors were pagans, yet they were very
        concerned about Jonah. This might have given him more
        sympathy for non-Jews.)

      2. How is your concern about physical harm affected?
        (God has clearly shown Jonah that He is in charge and
        can rescue him from the most serious problems.)

      3. How is your concern about God relenting affected? (On
        the one hand, God did not relent in pursuing Jonah.
        On the other hand, God did not kill Jonah. It seems
        that, on balance, since Jonah got a second chance, he
        should be more willing to give the residents of
        Nineveh a second chance.)

        1. Do you find that those who have been given
          second chances are more or less tolerant of
          second chances for others?

    3. What is your reaction to the fact that God seems to only
      request three days of Jonah’s time for this message? (I
      thought Jonah was being asked to spend months in Nineveh.
      This seems a quick get in, leave the message, and get out

      1. Notice that the amount of time to be spent in Nineveh
        is the same as the amount of time that Jonah spent
        inside the big fish. Would you rather be in the big
        fish or in Nineveh?

        1. Are they comparable experiences?

        2. Is there a spiritual or practical life lesson
          you can find in this? (What we have is time and
          ability. If we refuse to spend our time
          following God’s will, we will spend our time
          pursuing things that are no more pleasant. It is
          beginning to dawn on me that giving our time to
          God is like giving our tithe. When we give God
          our money and time He stretches the rest so that
          we seem to have more.)

    4. Friend, God is pursuing you. Will you “get out of the
      fish” and back into God’s will?

  5. Next week: Jonah, the Amazing Evangelist.
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