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Sabbath School Lessons on Major Lessons From Minor Prophets
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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 6: Eager to Forgive (Jonah) *
Introduction: Are you a loyal citizen of your country? Does your
citizenship prejudice your thinking about other countries? Since I
live in the United States, and many of our readers do not, insert the
right answer for you in the following questions. Which country is the
most dangerous enemy of your country? Have that country in mind? Now
imagine that you are a prophet. For most of your life God sent you
messages that were helpful to your country. Now God sends you a
message that will threaten, but may help, the country which is your
most dangerous enemy. You are supposed to personally deliver it. If
you are a patriot, how would you like that assignment? You might like
the threat part! But it might get you killed! What if it helps your
enemy? Let's dive into our study of the book of Jonah to see what we
can learn about God and His dealings with us!
- Patriot Prophet
- Read 2 Kings 14:23-25. What does Jonah predict? (Military
success for Israel.)
- How do you think the people of Israel reacted to that
prophecy? (They loved it. Especially, the text says
that the King lead them into sin, so I imagine
getting positive news from God's prophet is well-received.)
- Is Jonah a national hero?
- Read Jonah 1:1-2. What is the good and bad news here?
(Nineveh is the capital of Assyria. Genesis 10:8-11 tells
us that it was built by Nimrod. Nimrod is a "mighty
warrior" who is thought to be opposed to God. The
Assyrians are terrible people. Jonah brings bad news to
bad people. The other bad news is that this is a dangerous
- Mission Gone Awry
- Read Jonah 1:3. Why would Jonah run?
- Read Jonah 1:4-10. Why would the sailors be terrified of
Jonah's relationship to God? (Jonah tells them that his
God created the sea, and the sea looks like it is about to
kill them. Jonah has apparently offended the wrong God.)
- Read Jonah 1:11-13. What kind of attitude does Jonah have
towards God? What kind of attitude does he have towards
- How do you explain the sailors' reaction to Jonah's
solution? (They seem to be good guys.)
- Read Jonah 1:14. How would you translate this? (God, you
made us kill this guy.)
- Would you do what the sailors did? Would you consider
- Is Jonah truly an "innocent" man?
- God's Pursuit
- Read Jonah 1:15-17. The storm and the fish are a lot of
work for one guy! Why didn't God just find another
- What about Jonah's free-will? (I love this picture of
God. He is relentless in His pursuit of Jonah. Just
as God pursued Jonah so He pursues you. Praise Him
for His love and care!)
- Read Jonah 2:5-9. What different emotions do you find
here? (Jonah goes from desperation, to prayer, to faith,
to thankfulness, to renewed purpose in life.)
- Read Matthew 12:39-41. How are Jonah and Jesus similar?
- How is their three-day experience similar?
- Put yourself in the place of an evil Assyrian. To
what lengths has God gone to bring Jonah to rescue
- Do both Jesus and Jonah involve a miracle?
(Yes! Jonah and Jesus are alike - God has gone
to great and miraculous lengths to rescue us
- Mission on Track
- Read Jonah 3:1-5. Do you think Jonah expected this
- What does this teach us about witnessing to terrible
- Read Jonah 3:6-9. Is the King repenting because of fear?
(The King does not know that God will relent - he is
hoping God will. He repents even though he thinks he might
still be destroyed.)
- Read Jonah 3:10. Review our God's actions so far. What
kind of God is He? (He pursues Jonah. He pursues the
Assyrians. He could have let Jonah drown and the people of
Nineveh be destroyed. He intervened for both - and He
intervenes for you!)
- God and Man
- Read Jonah 4:1-3 and re-read Jonah 2:1-2. What
inconsistencies do you find in Jonah's life? (He wants
mercy, but he does not want to show mercy.)
- Do you really think Jonah wants to die? If not, why
does he say that? (We might say that Jonah is a
"drama queen," but I fear that his real intent is to
convince God to kill the people of Nineveh.)
- How does this compare to what Jesus did for us?
(Perhaps I'm being too hard on Jonah, but he
seems to say "God, please kill the people of
Nineveh so I won't have to die." Jesus says,
"God, let Me die so the people won't have to
- Review again Jonah's message to God in Jonah 4:1-3.
What did Jonah fear? (That evil people would turn to
God and God would show mercy.)
- Have you ever thought that God could not do
great things through you? What, exactly, are
the job qualifications for doing great things
for God? (Review for a moment Jonah's job
qualifications and his attitude.)
- Read Jonah 4:4. Put yourself in God's place. Would this be
your reaction? (How gracious God is to Jonah! God
continues to show grace and compassion to a guy who shows
no grace or compassion.)
- Read Jonah 4:5. Hope springs eternal! What would you
think, if you were God, about the current activities of
- Jonah and the Vine
- Read Jonah 4:6. I think we concluded that God should have
been unhappy with Jonah who was hoping for fire to fall
from heaven on Nineveh. What does God do instead?
(Provides Jonah with protection from the heat while Jonah
waits for fire to fall.)
- Read Jonah 4:7-8. Let's consider what God "provided": a
mature vine, a hungry worm, and a scorching wind. What is
- What is Jonah's reaction? (He wants to die.)
- Read Jonah 4:9. What is the correct answer to God's
question? Do you agree with Jonah?(The vine did not belong
to Jonah. He invested nothing in it. However, it was a
blessing to him. I don't think Jonah had a right to be
angry. Perhaps God's point is that Jonah does have a right
to be upset because God had given it to him.)
- Read Jonah 4:10-11. Consider Jonah's relationship to the
vine: how does it compare to God's relationship to
Nineveh? (Nineveh and its inhabitants are obviously more
important than a day-old vine.)
- What about the fact that the vine gave Jonah comfort
and shelter? (The people of Nineveh repented! Imagine
the joy that gave God.)
- Consider the time and effort Jonah had in that vine,
compared to the time and effort that God had invested
in Jonah and Nineveh?
- Could Jonah argue that his reputation, which he
had spent a lot of time on, was now ruined?
(The text says he was angry about the vine.)
- What does God mean when He says the people of Nineveh
"cannot tell their right hand from their left?"
(Every commentary I consulted said this was a
reference to children. There were 120,000 children in
Nineveh who were not old enough to choose between
good and evil. Notice also the interesting inclusion
of animals. God also cares about the animals.)
- Let's focus for a moment on God's question in Jonah 4:11.
What is the obvious answer? (Yes! Of course God should be
- If you had to summarize the book of Jonah in one
sentence, what would it be? ("God cares about me!"
God cared about Jonah, the wayward prophet. Look at
the tremendous effort to get Jonah on the right path
and to help him have the right mental attitude. Look
at the trouble God went to for the evil people of
Nineveh - and their innocent children.)
- Friend, God loves you and is concerned about you! Will you
determine, right now, to live your life in the confidence
of God's love and care?
- God's Special People (Micah).
* Copr. 2013, 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.