Lesson 2

People and Places

(Jonah 1, Luke 19, Psalms 139)
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Introduction: 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!

  1. The God Who Notices


    1. Read Jonah 1:1-2. Were the Assyrians God's special people? (No. They were generally the enemy of God's people. See, 1 Chronicles 5:26, 2 Kings 18:13, Hosea 11:5-7.)


      1. Why would God pay attention to the Assyrians?


      2. If God pays attention to those who have not chosen Him, what kind of attention does He give to those who have chosen Him?


      3. Notice that the wickedness of the Ninevites came to God's attention. What is God's reaction to Assyrian wickedness?


        1. Why doesn't God say, "The Assyrians are just being Assyrians. What can you expect?"


        2. Read 1 Corinthians 5:12-13. What should our reaction be to wickedness outside the church?


    2. We will study in great detail later that part of the Jonah account where he is caught in a ship in a storm. Right now, let's just look at what the captain of the ship says while in the storm. Read Jonah 1:4-6. What kind of a view of "gods" did this captain have? (Sometimes they noticed and sometimes they did not.)


      1. Was the phrase "sometimes they notice" true of Jonah's God? (No! Not only was the true God keeping tabs on the citizens of Nineveh, but He was keeping very close watch on Jonah.)


      2. There is a modern heresy that everyone has equally valid religious beliefs. What kind of view of other religions do you think this captain possessed?


        1. What effect, if any, did imminent danger have on his theology?


      3. Notice the theology of the sailors recounted in verse 5. What are the elements of their faith? (1. They were afraid. 2. They cried out to their god. 3. They lightened the ship.)


        1. How does their theology compare to yours?


          1. Do you fear?


          2. Do you cry out to God?


          3. Do you work while awaiting an answer?
    3. Read Luke 19:1-4. What kind of man was Zacchaeus?


      1. What kind of an attitude did he have towards Jesus?


      2. How would you compare the Ninevites to him?


    4. Read Luke 19:5-6. Is there anything that strikes you as being unusual about this? (There are several unique features to this, but the one that the lesson points out is that Jesus called Zacchaeus by his name.)


      1. What does the fact that Jesus called Zacchaeus by name teach us about God's interest in those who seek Him?


        1. What does it teach us about God's interest in you?


  2. The God Who Knows


    1. Read Psalms 139:1-4. What does God know about us?


      1. Notice verse 4. In God's eyes, what is the difference between thinking something and saying it?


      2. The United States Supreme Court has declared a constitutional protection that cannot be found by reading the constitution. This declared right is the right to privacy. Would you like to sue God for more privacy? Or, are you glad that God knows so much about you?


        1. What advantage is there in God knowing everything about you? (When you are honestly looking for help you want people to know and to care. You want them to pay attention to you.)


        2. In our church we have a time during worship where people can share their praises and prayer requests. Some use this opportunity to give little "sermon" and exhortations to the rest of the congregation. Why do you think they do that? (They want us to pay attention to them.)


          1. Are there people in your church who want more attention from you?


    2. Read Psalms 139:7-10. What could Jonah have learned from these verses?


  3. The God Who Can Be Trusted


    1. Read Jonah 1:3. Based on our discussion last week, and our discussion this week, why do you think Jonah ran instead of obeying?


    2. Read Matthew 10:28-31. Some of you said that Jonah ran because he was afraid. We saw that the sailors on the ship were afraid because of the storm. What does God say about our fear?


      1. Who is it that can kill both the body and the soul? (God.)


        1. What does this text suggest about the popular doctrine that the wicked never die - their souls live in immortal torture? (It suggests it is wrong.)


      2. Had Jonah made the right decision about his fear? (He feared the citizens of Nineveh more than he feared God.)


      3. These verses in Matthew 10 seem quite odd at first reading. They start out (v.28) by telling us we should fear God. Then end up (v.31) by saying "don't be afraid." How can you make sense out of this?


        1. Are we supposed to fear or not?


        2. What does the fact that God knows not only our name (as in Zacchaeus' story), but the number of hairs on our head, teach us about fearing God? (I think the key is verse 29. God knows you and He will not allow anything to happen to you without making an "executive decision" on it. If that is okay with you, then have nothing to fear. If that is not okay with you, then you are naturally afraid.)


          1. How do we get to the point of trusting God whatever happens?


    3. Friend, God knows about you and He cares about you. You cannot run and you cannot hide from Him. If you have been running from God, why not give it up, repent and trust Him?


  4. Next Week: Jonah and the Judgment.

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