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Opening Questions and Prayer

  • When was a time you disobeyed (or maybe your kid did), and the person giving the instructions was right?

    • How was compassion shown in that situation when you, or your child, messed up?

  • How does God show us compassion when we disobey?

  • Spend a moment and thank God for His never ending compassion.

Read Jonah 1:1-2

Jonah 1:1-2 (All verses are from the NLT version unless otherwise noted)

1 The Lord gave this message to Jonah son of Amittai: 2 “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.”

  • What was Jonah’s mission and message?

  • Why did the Lord send Jonah to a non-Israelite nation?

  • What mission has the Lord given you?

  • What are some difficulties with that mission?

Read Jonah 1:3-5

Jonah 1:3-5

3 But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the Lord. He went down to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish. He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping to escape from the Lord by sailing to Tarshish.

4 But the Lord hurled a powerful wind over the sea, causing a violent storm that threatened to break the ship apart. 5 Fearing for their lives, the desperate sailors shouted to their gods for help and threw the cargo overboard to lighten the ship.

But all this time Jonah was sound asleep down in the hold.

  • How did Jonah respond to the Lord’s mission for him?

  • What happened as a result of his disobedience?

  • What are some ways we disobey God?

  • How does our disobedience, also known as sin, affect those around us?

  • When tempted, how can you first think about how giving into temptation could hurt those around you?

Read Jonah 1:9-17

Jonah 1:9-17

9 Jonah answered, “I am a Hebrew, and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land.”

10 The sailors were terrified when they heard this, for he had already told them he was running away from the Lord. “Oh, why did you do it?” they groaned. 11 And since the storm was getting worse all the time, they asked him, “What should we do to you to stop this storm?”

12 “Throw me into the sea,” Jonah said, “and it will become calm again. I know that this terrible storm is all my fault.”

13 Instead, the sailors rowed even harder to get the ship to the land. But the stormy sea was too violent for them, and they couldn’t make it. 14 Then they cried out to the Lord, Jonah’s God. “O Lord,” they pleaded, “don’t make us die for this man’s sin. And don’t hold us responsible for his death. O Lord, you have sent this storm upon him for your own good reasons.”

15 Then the sailors picked Jonah up and threw him into the raging sea, and the storm stopped at once! 16 The sailors were awestruck by the Lord’s great power, and they offered him a sacrifice and vowed to serve him.

17 Now the Lord had arranged for a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was inside the fish for three days and three nights.

  • What did the sailors learn about God and His compassion through this encounter?

  • Even though Jonah disobeyed, how did God use that for His glory?

  • How has the Lord taken your sin, and used it for His glory?

    • Does this mean we should keep on sinning?

    • See Romans 6:1-4 1 Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? 2 Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? 3 Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? 4 For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.

Read Jonah 2:10-3:5

Jonah 2:10-3:5

10 Then the Lord ordered the fish to spit Jonah out onto the beach.

3:1 Then the Lord spoke to Jonah a second time: 2 “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh, and deliver the message I have given you.”

3 This time Jonah obeyed the Lord’s command and went to Nineveh, a city so large that it took three days to see it all. 4 On the day Jonah entered the city, he shouted to the crowds: “Forty days from now Nineveh will be destroyed!” 5 The people of Nineveh believed God’s message, and from the greatest to the least, they declared a fast and put on burlap to show their sorrow.

  • How did Jonah respond the second time?

  • How did the Ninevites respond to Jonah’s message?

  • What message does the Lord want you to take to the people around you?

  • What is one way you take the message of the good news of Jesus to those around you this week?

Read Jonah 3:10-4:11

Jonah 3:10-4:11

10 When God saw what they had done and how they had put a stop to their evil ways, he changed his mind and did not carry out the destruction he had threatened.

4:1 This change of plans greatly upset Jonah, and he became very angry. 2 So he complained to the Lord about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, Lord? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. 3 Just kill me now, Lord! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.”

4 The Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry about this?”

5 Then Jonah went out to the east side of the city and made a shelter to sit under as he waited to see what would happen to the city. 6 And the Lord God arranged for a leafy plant to grow there, and soon it spread its broad leaves over Jonah’s head, shading him from the sun. This eased his discomfort, and Jonah was very grateful for the plant.

7 But God also arranged for a worm! The next morning at dawn the worm ate through the stem of the plant so that it withered away. 8 And as the sun grew hot, God arranged for a scorching east wind to blow on Jonah. The sun beat down on his head until he grew faint and wished to die. “Death is certainly better than living like this!” he exclaimed.

9 Then God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry because the plant died?”

“Yes,” Jonah retorted, “even angry enough to die!”

10 Then the Lord said, “You feel sorry about the plant, though you did nothing to put it there. It came quickly and died quickly. 11 But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?”

  • Why didn’t Jonah think the people of Nineveh deserved to be saved?

  • What does this passage show us about the character of God?

  • Tough question: Is there anyone in your life right now, that you think doesn’t deserve God’s love and forgiveness?

    • Why do you feel that way?

  • Who is the Lord asking you to reach out to, pray for, and show love to this week?

    • Who will hold you accountable for this?

Memorize it!

Jonah 3:10

10 When God saw what they had done and how they had put a stop to their evil ways, he changed his mind and did not carry out the destruction he had threatened.

Closing thoughts and Prayer

The story of Jonah is a tough one, because it reveals some thoughts, prejudices, and sin in us that we often don’t like to think about or discuss. And while we may not think people don’t deserve God’s compassion and forgiveness, you may have one or two people that you rejoice when bad things happen to them. For example, a co-worker that always seems to be the favorite gets reprimanded by the boss. A politician you don’t like makes a snafu and the media attacks them. It’s those little things that often show where our heart is towards people we don’t like, get along with, or differ in opinion from us.

Pray that the Lord would show you any biases you have towards others. Then pray that He would give you compassion towards them just as He has compassion for them. End your time praying for the leaders in your church and country to lead with compassion.

Further Study

Jonah 1:3-5

  • Why did Jonah try to run from the Lord?

  • When was a time you tried to run away from the Lord?

    • What happened?

  • What are some ways your sin has hurt others?

    • How can you reconcile with them if you haven’t already?

Jonah 1:9-17

  • What does this teach us about the character of God?

  • Why would Jonah choose death over obeying God?

  • How do people still choose death over obeying God today?

Jonah 2:10-3:5

  • How does Jonah’s message still show reluctance in what he is doing?

  • What are some things you are reluctant about in your calling from the Lord?

  • How does this passage, and really the whole of Jonah, show God’s love for all people, not just a select few?

  • Is there anyone you have excluded from the hope of Jesus?

    • How might the Lord want you to reach out to them this week?

Jonah 3:10-4:11

  • The book of Jonah ends rather abruptly. What do you think happened with Jonah?

  • Why was Jonah so stubborn about the people of Nineveh not receiving God’s compassion?

  • How had Jonah missed how the Lord had shown him compassion?

  • How has the Lord shown compassion to you?

  • Who will you show that compassion to this week?

  • How does the story of Jonah point to Jesus?


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