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Sabbath School Lessons on Jonah
About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 41 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 10: A Wind, a Worm, and a Plant *
Introduction: 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!
- The Vine
- Read Jonah 4:5-6. Verse 5 tells us that Jonah's "shelter"
(his beach umbrella) gave him shade. Why does Jonah need
more shade from the vine? Any "shade experts" know the
answer? (Have you ever sat in the shade of a building
versus the shade of a tree? The tree is much cooler
because it exudes moisture through its leaves. The vine
would be much cooler than whatever shelter Jonah put
- We decided last week that Jonah was waiting for God
to send fire down on the citizens of Nineveh. Why
would God want to make Jonah more comfortable while
he is in a state of rebellion? If Jonah is going to
sit there angry and hoping to see the Ninevites burn,
why not let him bake a little?
- We say "our bread and water" will be sure with God
( Isaiah 33:16). What is God's attitude about our
- Jonah built his shelter (beach umbrella) while God
"built" the vine. What lesson do you see in this?
(God is still pursuing Jonah. Jonah stomps off into
the desert, builds some shade and waits hoping that
God will change His mind and turn the Ninevites into
crispy critters. This is entirely, "I'll do my own
stuff, build my own comforts and wait for God to come
around to my own solution." The first thing God does
is show Jonah that God's solution to the comfort
problem is superior.)
- Look at the last part of verse 6. What is Jonah's attitude
about God providing the vine? (He was very happy.)
- Does Jonah know God provided the vine?
- What part of Jonah's happiness with the vine stems
from knowing that God provided it, as opposed to the
practical, comfort aspect of the vine? (Jonah is
angry with God. His anger causes him to "do his own
thing." Now he sees that God seems to be aiding him
in his "own thing" and I think this is part of the
reason Jonah is very happy. He thinks God is coming
around to being reasonable about burning up the "bad
- The Worm and the Wind
- Read Jonah 4:7. Who provided the worm? (God.)
- Read Jonah 1:17 and 4:7 together. What parallels do you
see between the great fish and the little worm? (God
provided both. God used both to get the attention of
Jonah. The great fish was used to save Jonah from
drowning. The little worm was used to make Jonah
uncomfortable. This discomfort was meant to save Jonah's
- Do you ever think that God is not interested in the
small things in your life? If this is a concern, how
do you explain that God was involved in this worm and
- Read Jonah 4:8. Remember that Jonah built his own shelter
(4:5)? How does Jonah's shelter protect him against the
scorching wind and sun that "God provided?"
- Why does God send a scorching wind and blazing sun?
- Do you believe that Jonah understood that both the
appearance of the vine and its destruction were
- Put yourself in Jonah's place. Is it obvious to you
that God is not tending to His proper business? God
is supposed to be raining fire down on Nineveh at
this very minute. Instead, God is fooling around
killing your shade vine and turning up the heat. How
do you reconcile God's actions? Why does God seem to
be a prankster instead of the judge of the wicked?
- Compare Jonah 1:12, Jonah 4:3 and Jonah 4:8. In all three
situations Jonah's plan and God's plan are quite
different. When Jonah sees that God's plan is going
forward he is angry (or resigned) enough that he just says
"Let me die." Think back to the times you have been
depressed. Was part of the problem that your plan for your
life was contrary to God's plan for your life?
- Do you see Jonah as angry or depressed in these
- What is God's reaction to this kind of talk? (God
continues to pursue Jonah.)
- The Issue
- Read Jonah 4:9. What does this reveal about Jonah's state
of mind? (Jonah says he is angry. I have no training in
mental illness, but it seems odd to me that someone would
be angry enough to die.)
- What do you think about Jonah's answer?
- What do you think is the correct answer to God's
question in verse 9?
- Let's look more closely at Jonah's attitude with regard to
the loss of the vine and God's question. How would Jonah
fit in as a member of a modern environmental group? Is it
your perception that some modern environmentalists care
more about plants and animals than they do for people?
- Why does Jonah think he should be sheltered by the
vine while the Ninevites are burned up? (I don't
think Jonah is intentionally preferring the vine over
people. I think he is simply being selfish and is
upset that his personal comfort level has taken a
plunge. However, God's question points to the core
issue: How can you be upset about the death of a vine
and not upset about the death of an entire city of
people? This is a question that every pro-environment, pro-choice (on abortion) person needs to
be able to answer in response to God's question.)
- When we face a situation where our "vine" has died, should
we remember that we do not have our vine, but we still
have our God?
- Read Matthew 26:38. Jonah and Jesus say very similar
words. Contrast the attitude of Jesus and the attitude of
Jonah which produced these words? (Jonah has the attitude
of the Devil. He is selfish and upset that people are not
being destroyed. Jesus is in the process of giving His
life away so that we all can be saved. The contrast is
- Read Jonah 4:10-11. Most of next week's lesson
concentrates on these two verses. For that reason, I do
not want to get into great detail here. Compare for me
Jonah's role in the life and care of the vine and God's
role in the life and care of the Ninevites? (Jonah had
nothing to do with the life and care of the vine. Yet when
it was gone he was so angry he could die. God created and
sustained the Ninevites. God tells us He has a vested
interest in our life and salvation.)
- Why does God mention "cattle" in verse 11? (I
consider this to be significant. God tells us he
cares about the animals. God is also making a logical
point with Jonah. God says, "You are upset about the
loss of a plant, why not be concerned about the
higher ascending life forms of animals and people?
Jonah's values are completely upside down.)
- Friend, how would you like a God with Jonah's attitude?
Praise God that He explicitly reveals to us that He cares
about our life and our salvation!
- Next Week: The Last Word.
* 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.