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Lesson 6: Salvation Is of the Lord! *

Introduction: 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!

  1. Blind Obedience

    1. Read Jonah 1:11-14. Jonah gives the sailors instructions on how to end the storm and save their lives. Did they believe Jonah?

      1. Did they believe in Jonah's God? (Yes, see verse 14.)

      2. If they believed Jonah and believed in Jonah's God, why did they avoid the solution Jonah gave them? (They did not like the idea of killing Jonah by throwing him overboard.)

        1. What was wrong with the idea of throwing Jonah overboard? (They were afraid they would get into trouble by doing this.)

      3. The sailors were caught in a dilemma. They did not want to die by NOT throwing Jonah in the water. On the other hand, they didn't want to kill Jonah by throwing him overboard. They feared they would be punished for throwing a man overboard to his death. Why would they think that obedience to God would get them punished? (They were already close to death. They feared dying in the storm. Since they were already close to death, there was no need to create any more danger for themselves.)

        1. Why did they call Jonah an "innocent man?"

          1. Do you think Jonah was innocent?

          2. Did Jonah think he was innocent?

      4. Let's look at verse 14 more carefully. What do you think about the sailors telling God the whole thing is His fault? (The sailors believed in the power of God. But, they did not trust Him. This is the key to them calling Jonah an innocent man. They did not trust the judgment made by God.)

        1. Is that like us? Because we do not know God well enough we do not understand or trust Him?

      5. Let's look at verse 13 more carefully. The sailors decide to ignore the instructions from Jonah's God and do their best to save the boat. What is the result? (The sea gets wilder.)

        1. Why do you think that happened? (God was trying to teach them not to depend upon themselves.)

        2. Has this ever happened to you? You have a problem in your life, but instead of turning to God you try to work it out yourself. The problem then gets much worse. How do you react? (These sailors were new acquaintances to the Great God of Heaven. You would think that we would do better than they did. But we often find ourselves trying to solve our problems on our own instead of turning to God.)

      6. Put yourself in Jonah's place. He is no longer sleeping below deck. He is fully aware of the danger and has instructed the sailors to throw him overboard to fix the problem. Instead of doing what Jonah thought was right, the sailors try rowing back to land and the storm gets much worse. Why didn't Jonah throw himself overboard? Why wait for someone else to do it? (Jonah knows what is right, but he is hoping that the sailors can work this out without him suffering the consequences of his sin.)

        1. Is this another way in which you can identify with Jonah?

    2. Read Jonah 1:15-16. What do the sailors finally do? (Obey God and throw Jonah overboard.)

      1. How has the sailors' situation changed as a result of their "blind" obedience? (They go from being dead men to followers of the true God.)

      2. What do you think about this formula for your life - obey God even though you are uncertain? (In this story there was nothing like obedience to convert these sailors. Once they obeyed, it became clear to them that they had chosen the right course. Their lives were not only saved for now, but if they continue to fear God and obey Him, their lives will be saved eternally.)

  2. Jonah Food

    1. Read Jonah 1:17-2:1. In our story so far, what does God control and what does He not control? (He controls the weather and the fish. He does not control the allegiance of the people.)

      1. Why are storms and fish "fair game," but people are not?

    2. Last week I was visiting a church in California. The teacher praised the faith of Jonah - that he prayed even while in a fish. What do you think about Jonah's faith at this point? (The NIV does not begin Jonah 2:1 with the word "then." All of the other translations that I consulted start verse 1 with "then." "Then" infers that it was after Jonah was in the fish for three days that he prayed. I'm not certain Jonah gets credit for great faith. My brother, who was with me at the church, said to me, "What other option did Jonah have?" )

      1. Why did Jonah wait to pray?

    3. Read Jonah 2:2. What clue does this give us as to Jonah's state of mind and the reason why he prayed after three days and three nights? (He was absolutely desperate. He thought he was dead. He called to God "from the depths of the grave." The New Living Translation says that Jonah called "from the world of the dead.")

  3. Jonah's Version

    1. Read Jonah 2:3-4. Litigation has shown me that two perfectly honest people can report the same incident in much different ways. Do you see what happened to Jonah in the same way he saw it?

      1. Do you agree that it was God who "hurled [Jonah] into the deep?" (I thought it was the reluctant soldiers who acted at Jonah's suggestion.)

      2. Do you agree that Jonah has been "banished [by God] from [God's] sight?"(My recollection of the story is that Jonah was the one running away, not God!)

    2. Read Jonah 2:5-10. Verse 10 makes clear that Jonah's prayer (vv.1-9) takes place while he is still in the belly of the fish. How would you characterize this prayer?

      1. What do you find remarkable about Jonah's "in-fish" prayer? (He prays as if God had already saved him. For example, verse 6 says, "But you brought my life up from the pit." It seems to me he is still in "the pit.")

        1. Is Jonah showing faith or presumption? (Probably it is neither. Jonah figured that since he had not died yet, God must be in the middle of a rescue mission.)

        2. Prior to the vomit, was God already answering Jonah's prayer? (Yes. He had sent the fish at just the right time and place. The fish saved Jonah from drowning.)

      2. Being swallowed by a fish must have been very scary. As you review verses 5-10, what do you think was the most frightening part for Jonah? (In verse 5 he says that seaweed got wound around his head. Think about that for a minute. You are inside a fish - it is dark and wet. Then soggy seaweed gets wrapped around your eyes and your nose. You can't see anything and you cannot breathe.)

    3. God brings Jonah back to dry land! However, Jonah is covered with vomit. Does Jonah have any reason for complaining?

      1. Would it be fair for Jonah to say, "God, why not a belch?"

      2. Sometimes when we sin, God saves us but the experience leaves us a little "smelly." Should we be grateful?

    4. Friend, is simple obedience looking better all the time? Obeying saved the sailors. Obeying would have saved Jonah a lot of grief. Why not determine today to obey God the first time?

  4. Next Week: Second Chances.
* Copr. 2003, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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