Friday, September 13, 2013

Bible Study: God Desires To Show Mercy - Jonah - Chapter 1

Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the book of Jonah, although they are a bit better formatted than former efforts. I felt a great sense of urgency to publish them rather than waiting until I had the time to pretty them up. Thank you and I pray that God blesses and encourages you through this material. I’m not sure of the condition of the world at the time of this publication. But at the time of its writing, spring 2010, things are looking increasingly bleak with the economy, health care and unemployment, there is a renewal and increase of racism, and godly principles of living being disregarded, there are floods in India, earthquake and tsunami in Samoa. Are these the first stages of birth pains? The last? God only knows. And He is very busy these days. Seek His wisdom. Encourage each other. Pray. Jesus is coming to deliver His people and judge the wicked…


Take a few minutes to pray and savor chapter 1 of the book of Jonah. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…

1:1 – Jonah was the son of Amittai (2 Kings 14:23-25) of Geth Hepher, in the territory of Zebulun (Joshua 19:13).

The Lord speaks to Jonah. Imagine this. Jonah has conversations with God.

1:2 – God is angry over the wickedness of the Ninevites. But, unlike our anger most of the time, God’s is backed up by righteousness. It’s motivated by wanting the best for His creation. Also, the Lord deals with His anger by confronting its source.

1:3 – Jonah immediately disobeyed. A study that I’ve done on the book of Jonah called “Kona With Jonah” by Sandra Glahn saw this verse as the first step in a stage direction to show us the depth of Jonah’s spiritual rebellion. He traveled to Joppa, which was at a lower elevation than Samaria where he lived. So Jonah went down to Joppa. Then he went down to the docks and the boat.

Jonah ran away – bad choice. What sort of prophet can he be if he thinks he can outrun God? He obviously doesn’t know God well enough to know he can’t get away from the Lord!

Jews feared the ocean, so for Jonah to choose a sea voyage over God’s command to go to Nineveh is a really big deal. Look at a map. The trip to Nineveh was completely over land.

Jonah is motivated by prejudice. He hated the Ninevites like WWII Jews hated Germans. Or like we “hate” al Qaeda today.

Jonah deals with his anger by running away and disobeying.

How much of Jonah’s reluctance to go to Nineveh was a result of fear?

1:4 – The Lord sent a storm to stop Jonah. But was merciful in how intense He made the storm. He wanted repentance from Jonah just like He wanted repentance from Nineveh. Just like He desires our repentance. But notice that the storm was so intense the ship threatened to break up.

The Hebrew wording of this verse gives the ship human characteristics. It says that the ship thought it would break. This gives the book a fairy tale feel.

God is angry with Jonah for his disobedience, so He sends obstacles to motivate Jonah to stop, repent and obey. He begins with wind and a storm.

1:5 – Jonah continues his downward rebellion. He goes down into the hold of the ship and finally lays his head down to sleep.

Jonah slept through the storm while the sailors worked feverishly to save the ship! When you run from God, does your conscience allow you to sleep?

1:6 – The Captain woke Jonah and tells him to get up! He wanted Jonah to pray for relief. What does this tell you about the Captain? About Jonah? Jonah had made it known previously that he was running away from the Lord. See 1:10.

The Captain’s plea is almost identical to God’s command in verse 2. Have you ever experienced something like this – where you’ve disobeyed God, but later received the same request from a person and complied? Do you think Jonah obeyed the Captain because he realized that God was speaking through him?

1:7 – Casting lots was one form of “divination” that was acceptable in Israel. Can you find other scriptures where lots are cast? What were the results? Did it appear that God may have had influence over the outcome of the casting? What does this tell you about God?

Do you think Jonah already knew he was the cause of the storm before the lot was cast? What evidence did he have so far that God was after him?

Jonah was rightly identified as the cause of the calamity.

1:8 – The sailors ask who he is. Actually, they ask his occupation, where he comes from, what his country is, and who his people are. Why would these things matter?

1:9 – Jonah identifies himself as a Hebrew and a worshiper of the Lord. How could he say such a thing when he is being blatantly disobedient? When was the last time you did something like this?

1:10 – The sailors were afraid and asked what he’d done.

1:11 – The storm is growing worse. The ship was already threatening to break up in verse 4. What do you suppose it’s doing now?

Why would the sailors ask Jonah what they should do to him to make the storm stop?

1:12 – Jonah isn’t all bad. He cares enough about the sailors to put himself in harm’s way to spare them.

But Jonah isn’t all good, either. His desire to be thrown overboard may not be as much about saving the sailors and the ship as it is about escaping from what God wants him to do. This prophet would rather die than deliver God’s message to the Ninevites! Wow!

Are you withholding forgiveness from someone? Don’t hold back any longer. Get on your knees and pray that God would fill you will forgiveness for that person. Pray for them to be touched by the Lord.

1:13 – Why do you think they didn’t take his advice and throw him overboard?

The storm continued to grow worse. Remember verses 4 and 11? The sailors must be approaching hopelessness.

1:14 – They cried out to God, themselves, asking not to be accountable for what they were about to do…

1:15 – …and threw him overboard! The storm stopped. Apparently no amount of prayer was going to stop this storm. Action had to be taken. Have you been there?

Have you ever experienced immediate relief after obeying God? How does it make you feel?

I wonder if the storm stopped the moment his toe touched the water.

1:16 – This incident made the sailors fear the Lord.

1:17 – The fish swallowed Jonah. Big fish? Tight squeeze? One Bible teacher wrote that people get too preoccupied with the idea of the fish. I disagree. First of all, it’s part of the divinely inspired Word of God, so there’s something to be learned from it. God produced a perfect environment at a perfect time to save Jonah from drowning. This is not insignificant or unimportant.

Imagine what it would be like inside of a fish. What do you imagine? If this part of the story were a parable, what life lesson can you take away from it?

Imagine this: God used the fish to deliver Jonah – saved him from drowning.

I don’t normally assign homework, but we will be studying Jonah’s prayer next time. It may be beneficial for you to read chapter two in advance and determine what verses of scripture Jonah is quoting (most are in Psalms).

• The book of Jonah shows how hatred can cloud our thoughts and keep us from obeying God. How have you seen God’s love at work in this chapter of scripture to break down those and other barriers, and how will you apply it to your life this week?
• What attributes of God do you see in this book?
• What verse of scripture seemed to be God speaking directly to you? What is He teaching you in these verses? How does He want you to respond?

1 comment:

Shannon Baker said...

It sounds like an interesting series. I will check it out

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