Jonah Lesson 2 - Part 1

Resisting God's Calling - Part 1

Icebreaker Question:  Have you ever had a strong feeling that God was calling or nudging you to do something for Him, or serve someone else in His name, and you were reluctant to act?  Discuss as a group, what you were led to do or why you failed to act.

1.  Jonah tried to run from God, and soon found himself in deep, deep, trouble!

Q2.  Could we bring trouble upon ourselves if we defy the Spirit's leading?

2.  Jonah boarded a ship bound for Tarshish, which was west of Joppa and traveled in the opposite direction from Nineveh.

3.  God, who controls even the elements, sent a great wind to threaten the ship.

4.  Note the faith of the captain and crew when they confronted Jonah.  Most people lose their bravado when a crisis is at hand.  The captain and crew surely did!  I can only imagine what the return of Christ will be like for hard-hearted people who reject the Savior.

5.  Note how God continued to pursue Jonah, even though he resisted God's command.

Q3.  What does that reveal about God's nature, and our human nature, which is useful for our edification as Christians?

6,  The casting of lots revealed that Jonah was the person responsible for their situation.  This process is mentioned in both the Old and New Testaments as a form of decision making, whereby objects are tossed from a can or container to reveal a selection.  Note that God caused the lot to fall on Jonah.  When the lot fell on Jonah, he admitted that he was responsible for the tempest, and told them to toss him overboard to calm the seas.  Even in his sinful actions Jonah witnessed to others.

Q4.  What do our sinful actions or untruths say to other Christians and especially to non-Christians?

 7.  For many years I have believed that Jonah resisted God's call to serve because he was prejudiced towards the Ninevites.  However, I am not sure it matters very much why Jonah (or we) are hardheaded towards God's calling.  Whatever the reason, we need to repent and change our ways.

Q5.  Discuss what prejudice is, and how it clouds our rational thought process.

8.  Jonah forgot that we are made to be walking vessels of God's mercy!  (Jonah 2:6-8; Rom. 9:23; I Peter 1:3)  Like Jonah, when we forget this principle, we put ourselves above God, and actually judge Him!  It makes me shiver to think about that.

9.  Jonah also forgot his personal sinfulness.  He was rebellious, unrepentant, prejudiced against the Ninevites, and also full of anger.  As a good friend of mine once said, "Anger is a personal decision!"  No one makes you angry.  You choose to be angry.  You can also choose not to be angry.  God can help with your anger, and your prejudices, if you will just let Him.

10.  Satan steals our joy when we simply go through the motions, without a heart change.  Jonah eventually repented, was forgiven by God, and was ready to call others to repentance.  However, mechanically going through the motions is not God's idea of submission.  Submission must be from the heart.  Notice that even though Jonah went and preached at Ninevah, and many people responded, there was no rejoicing in Jonah's heart.  We can serve all we want, but until there is genuine repentance, which results in God taking away the prejudice, anger, and malice, we will not be able to serve joyfully.  This lesson clearly teaches us that only God can take away anger and prejudice and replace them with genuine joy.

Q6.  When we have clear differences in doctrinal views with others, how can we avoid prejudice in our conversation and conduct?  (In Matthew 12:30), Jesus said, "He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.)

Q7.  Should we dislike those who intensely hate America or the church today?  How can we deal with such people, if they only want to convert us to a false religion or kill us?

 

 

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