In this first chapter in Jonah we see two completely different mindsets. On the one hand there's Jonah. He clearly knows who God is, clearly heard what God asked of him, and just as clearly chose to go his own way. On the other hand we have a whole crew of sailors. They knew only enough about God to be afraid, but not enough to be obedient. They knew His power but not the power of His love. In the end they were all literally in the same sinking ship.
Just as there's two different views of God in this passage, there are two different responses to Him. The sailors only had fear. They didn't know God. They didn't know that God doesn't wipe people off the face of the earth for personal gain or entertainment. Their response to God was to beg for mercy and hope for the best. Perhaps if they begged and bribed their way into His favor things might still work out. Their fears were confirmed as they contemplated Jonah. If God was this angry at one of His own people what hope would there ever be for them?
And then there's Jonah. He trusted God's loving nature enough to sleep through a raging storm. That trust shows in the way he accepted the penalty for his disobedience. He understood that sin comes with a cost and he was willing to accept the price, even if it meant death. He allowed himself to be sacrificed to save the others on board that ship. He knew God and trusted in His fairness.
Ladies, sometimes God calms the storm, but only sometimes. More often He lets the storm rage and calms the child. Clearly the better choice would have been obedience right from the start, but it took the storm to bring Jonah to the place that we meet him in this week's lesson. So this is where we move forward.
Love, as always, Renée
Now on to this week's lesson
Read Jonah 1:17-2:10
Memory verse 2:2 He said " in my distress I cried out to the Lord and He answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called out and you listened to my cry"
1. Why do you think God provided the fish for Jonah?
2. What was Jonah's response to his new accommodations?
3. Jonah is quick to acknowledge that God is responsible for his trip overboard, because he deserved it. How likely is it that you rightly identify the cause of your misery?
4. When has God used someone else or some circumstance to change your heart to make it align with His will?
5. How long do you think it took Jonah to pray as he did in this chapter? How long would it have taken to bring you to a place of humble acceptance?
6. Which verse or verses in Jonah's prayer mean the most to you personally? Explain your choice.
7. Where do you find hope and encouragement?
8. In verse 8 Jonah says that those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God's love for them. Do you think this was a judgement of the sailors? Why or why not?
For personal growth: what worthless idols do you cling to? What is it that takes up the greater part of your time and energy? What occupies your first waking thoughts and/or your last before going to sleep? What might God be asking you to let go? What needs to change in your life in order for Him to occupy His rightful place in your heart?
For the good of the group: it's not clear how long it took Jonah to come to repentance but God's response was restoration. Can you tell of a time when He restored you?