October, November, December 2003

Want to learn more about Jonah? Use these Bible Studies for personal devotion, group Bible studies, or teaching a church class. Below are links to the lessons in this 13-part series.

Lesson 1: Biblical Prophets, Modern Critics (Jonah 1, Matthew 12)
Do you remember "Jonah and the Whale?" This week we begin a new quarter of studies on the book of Jonah. Years ago, when I was teaching the book of Jonah, an elderly man in my class reported that when he was a boy a whale had been transported on a flatbed railroad car to his hometown. He had never before seen a whale. Part of the "whale show" informed the public that the throat of the whale was very narrow - thus making it impossible for a man to be swallowed whole by a whale. The old man wanted to know how the Jonah story could be true. This week we look at some of the "historical markers" that support Jonah's story. Let's jump in and see what we can learn!

Lesson 2: People and Places (Jonah 1, Luke 19, Psalms 139)
What kind of God do we serve? Is He a God who is an "absentee landlord?" Is He a God who knows His people and no others? Is He a God who knows about the intimate details of your life? Can you hide from God? Let's jump into our lesson and see what we can learn about our God!

Lesson 3: Jonah and the Judgment (Jonah 1, Genesis 20, Job 31, Matthew 20)
"If a tree falls in the forest where no one is around, does it make any sound?" This is a rough recollection of one of those brain-teasing Philosophy 101 questions that you were given in college. Our lesson this week asks, "If a person violated the Ten Commandments before they existed, was it sin?" "What if they existed and the person simply did not know about them?" Applying this to Jonah, how could the citizens of Ninevah be called "wicked" if they did not have a standard for behavior? Let's jump into the Bible and find out!

Lesson 4: The "Dove" Flees (Jonah 1)
Jonah's name in Hebrew means "dove." When you think about doves in the Bible, they are generally associated with good news, right? After the great flood, a dove revealed the water had receded. Genesis 8:11. When Jesus was baptized, God's Spirit was pictured as a dove affirming that Jesus was God's Son. Matthew 3:16-17. On the other hand, GoBible reader Dr. Izak Wessels, sent me a note pointing out that in Hosea 7:11 a dove is called "easily deceived and senseless." What kind of "dove" is Jonah? A man of good news or a silly bird? Let's jump into our lesson and learn more about this unique prophet!

Lesson 5: A Hebrew Prophet and Heathen Mariners (Jonah 1)
Jonah had God's "marching instructions" for him. Instead of marching in the correct direction, he ran off the other way. Instead of bringing news of the Great God of Heaven to the citizens of Nineveh, Jonah first brought the news to a group of heathen sailors. Let's dive into our lesson and find out how the Lord's work gets advanced even when we are unruly!

Lesson 6: Salvation Is of the Lord! (Jonah 1 & 2)
Have you ever thought you were in the wrong place at the wrong time? The sailors on Jonah's ship thought they had been caught between an angry God and a disobedient prophet. However much they wished they had skipped this voyage, it turned out to be the blessing of their lives. Let's dive into our watery story and learn more!

Lesson 7: Second Chances (Jonah 2:9-3:3)
Will God let us run away from obedience to Him? If you say, "yes," then how easy is it to run away? The book of Jonah suggests it is not an easy thing to run away from God. If we equate obedience to God with eternal salvation, God's persistence shows His attitude toward our salvation. Do you think God works as hard to bring us back to Him as He worked to bring back Jonah to his assignment? Let's jump back into our study of how God reeled Jonah back to Him!

Lesson 8: Jonah, the Amazing Evangelist (Jonah 3:3-10)
At long last Jonah is back on track. God has asked him once again to go and share God's word with the people of Nineveh. This time Jonah obeys. Think back to the lesson when we discussed all the reasons why Jonah would not want to go to Nineveh. Remember them? Will those worries and fears come true? Let's dive into our study this week and find out what happens as Jonah enters Nineveh!

Lesson 9: Conversing With God (Jonah 4:1-5)
What an amazing day for Jonah! He doesn't get skinned alive and his hide stretched out on a rock to tan. He doesn't get a limb or two removed. He does not get mortared up alive in some wall. He wasn't impaled on a post. None of the terrible things the Assyrians had a reputation for doing to their enemies happened to him. Instead, all the citizens of Nineveh, including the King, accepted Jonah as a true prophet, accepted his God as the true God, and all repented and turned away from sin. Imagine the stories that Jonah will have to tell back at his home church! Consider the fund-raising potential of such a story! "Thousands of Truly Evil People Repent in a Single Day" is the headline. Let's jump into our study of the Bible and read about the reaction to this fabulously successful day of evangelism!

Lesson 10: A Wind, a Worm, and a Plant (Jonah 4:5-11)
Remember how we ended last week's lesson? Jonah puts up his beach umbrella, breaks out his lawn-chair recliner, fixes himself a cold drink, and stretches out for what remains of the 40 days to see the fireworks start over Nineveh. Jonah turns from aquanaut, to prophet to spectator. Let's jump back into our story and see what God teaches us next!

Lesson 11: The Last Word (Jonah 4:10-11)
Last week we left Jonah, as we have at previous points in the story, as an angry, unhappy man. Jonah tells God that the loss of his shade vine and the hot weather has left him "angry enough to die" (Jonah 4:9). God provides a dose of logic to Jonah to calm him down and convert his heart. Let's dive into our story and see how God deals with angry saints.

Lesson 12: The Sign of the Prophet Jonah (Matthew 12)
Have you heard the expression, "It was all over except for the shouting?" That is where we are in our study of Jonah. Our Jonah story is over. If I were to grade Jonah as a prophet, it would be a pretty low score. How about you? What do you think about Jonah? When grading Jonah consider both his attitude and the result of his work. How do you think God views Jonah? That last question leads us into our study today. What kind of "shouting" follows the story of Jonah? Let's dive into the Bible and find out Jesus had to say about Jonah!

Lesson 13: A Picture of God (Jonah 1-4, Matthew 18)
We have finally come to our last study of the book of Jonah. What kind of a picture of God have we seen in the book of Jonah? What have we learned about His involvement in our life, His concern, His Love, His power and His judgment? The book of Jonah ends with a question. Can we find the conclusion to Jonah somewhere else in the Bible? Let's dive into our study of Jonah one last time to remind ourselves of what we have learned about our God!

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