Questions to ponder before you attend connect group
- What did Jonah proclaim? (Jonah 3:4)
- How did the Ninevites respond to Jonah’s proclamation of God’s punishment? (Jonah 3:5)
- How did the king of Nineveh respond? (Jonah 3:6-8)
God commanded Jonah to prophesy a warning to the Ninevites. Although Jonah initially disobeyed God and failed to make his way to Nineveh, he later repented and brought the Ninevites to repentance by proclaiming God’s will. In today’s lesson, tonight through Jonah’s story we’ll learn how God lovingly disciplines His children.
1. Jonah’s Disobedience
One day, the Word of God came to Jonah:
“Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” (Jonah 1:2)
Jonah was very displeased about going to Nineveh as God had commanded. He hated the idea of salvation coming to the Ninevites who had previously invaded Israel and brought much suffering. This led Jonah to board a ship heading in the opposite direction of Tarshish. He then went below deck and slept. As he lay sleeping, God caused a storm. All those on the boat began calling out to their gods in desperation. As the storm continued to threaten the ship, they cast lots to discover the person responsible for the storm. The lot fell on Jonah. Jonah explained how he must have angered God, and told them the waves would subside if he were thrown into the sea (Jonah 1:12). Exactly as he had spoken, as soon as Jonah was thrown into the sea, the waves subsided. God then sent a great fish to swallow Jonah. While in the stomach of the fish, Jonah suffered and was in despair. Even today there are many Christians who disobey God, do not live according to His will and end up facing turbulent waves and suffering like Jonah.
2. Jonah Prayed
Jonah’s escape from the stomach of the great fish was made possible by his prayer to God. How did Jonah pray?
First, Jonah’s prayer was one of repentance. He prayed:
“I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple” (Jonah 2:4)
Repentance changes the heart and mind; repentance focuses our eyes toward God. When God’s chosen people, the descendants of Israel repented and prayed, they looked toward the Holy Temple.
Repentance is accompanied by a change of heart, from self-centeredness to God-centeredness. Only repentance offers us a pathway back to the Creator. Only repentance offers us divine healing and the filling of the Holy Spirit.
Second, Jonah gave thanks to God for saving him (Jonah 2:9).
Even in such a state of desperation, Jonah believed that God had already answered his prayer and he gave a prayer of thanks and vowed to change.
3. Jonah Proclaimed Repentance
Having repented, Jonah then made his way to Nineveh to preach repentance as God had commanded. From this, we can draw 3 lessons.
First, God gave a second chance to Jonah. Although God imprisoned him in the stomach of a fish when he actively disobeyed His command, when Jonah repented God commanded the fish to vomit up Jonah onto dry land, thus giving him another opportunity. When we falter in our weakness, God does not abandon us, but desires to give us a second chance.
Second, having decided to obey God, Jonah bravely proclaimed the complete will of God. Prior to his repentance, Jonah didn’t have the desire to warn the Ninevites. However, after his repentance, Jonah bravely went to Nineveh and proclaimed God’s will (Jonah 3:4).
Third, through Jonah’s obedience to God’s command, countless people in Nineveh were saved from destruction. God considers each person important. We must avoid underestimating our own value and importance to God and his plans to use us.
As the disobedient Jonah repented in the stomach of the fish, God gave Jonah another chance to obey. As the people of Nineveh humbly repented of their wicked ways, God withheld His judgement and forgave them. All of us must become like Jonah and boldly shout God’s message to this sin drenched world.