I would like to dispel doubt. It's easy for us to believe that a fish couldn't swallow a man or that even if it could the man would never survive. Well hello Google!! I actually found news accounts of men being swallowed by whales, one of which occurred at Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.
Even without Google we have at least 2 reasons to believe. First our God is capable of anything. After speaking all of creation into a existence a fish with a man-sized belly is small potatoes. Second, Jesus spoke of this as though it was an actual historical event. If He believed it- I believe it.
Whether or not you believe the fish was real, there can be no doubt that Jonah's repentance was real. He accepted that death was coming soon, and used his dying moments to cry out to God, and to acknowledge the hope that can only come from Him. Verse 4 said " I have been banished from your sight yet (don't you just love that word) yet I will look again toward your temple."
I know it's not easy to find hope in the midst of life's struggles, but ladies, that's when we need it most. And if Jonah could find reasons to praise God while being carried to the ocean floor with seaweed wrapped around his neck, perhaps we could look a little harder. Pray for God to give you a heart that beats for Him, as it breaks over your current circumstance. Be like Jonah. "I cried out to you Lord, and you answered". We have no better place to turn.
Love, as always, Renée
Now on to this week's lesson
Read Jonah 3
Memory verse: 3:5. The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed.
1. Think back a few chapters. What was the cost of Jonah's disobedience?
2. If it was your decision to make would you have given Jonah a second chance? Why or why not?
3. Has God ever given you a second chance? Describe the circumstances.
4. God didn't just forgive Jonah. He restored him and chose him to deliver His message to the Ninevites. What do you think that felt like for Jonah?
5. Was Jonah's waiting time in the fish punitive or instructive and what was the effect that time had on Jonah?
6. What was God's message for The Ninevites and how did they respond to His words?
7. What would change in your life if you thought you only had 40 days left?
8. How can you be certain that the Ninevites repentance was genuine?
For personal growth: This passage beautifully illustrates repentance and restoration. Is there something in your life that you know displeases God? What makes you want to continue clinging to it? What are the barriers to repentance? How far are you willing to go to humble yourself before God? Once you became willing to humble your heart, what was it like to experience the restorative powers of God's grace?
For the good of the group: how much more wickedness do you think God will tolerate from our nation before He gives us a 40 day count down?