BY: Sarah Auger
DATE: Sunday 14 May 2023
‘BIBLE PASSAGES: Read online
Jonah | Chapter 4 | Verses 1-11
This whole book is aimed at those who think that God loves us – our country etc – and therefore is against our enemies. It’s a powerful drama confronting the racism, nationalism, sectarianism, tribalism in our hearts. The Jonah figure is us. The strength of his emotional collapse at the mercy shown to his enemies is striking. And yet, we witness the same tribalism and division every day in world (e.g. on social media) – how do we respond? God’s question, at the very end of the book, leaves us hanging. It’s a question about the posture of our lives, that we all need to ask. Should I not be concerned about that great city?
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BIBLE STUDY QUESTIONS
Each week there are TWO different sets of questions for you to use, whether you are exploring the Bible within your Life Group, in other group settings, or simply using them on your own.
A | DISCUSSION STARTERS
These are simple questions to provoke discussion together out of the talk (ideal if you are watching our Sunday Service online with others in your group):
1 | Was there anything that particularly helped you during the talk?
2 | Was there anything that you didn’t necessarily agree with, or found difficult to understand in the talk?
3 | As a result of the talk, what:
a. Changes do you want to see?
b. Truths do you need to remember?
c. Actions do you need to take?
B | QUESTIONS TO EXPLORE
These are questions that are based on the talk and the surrounding themes:
Read Jonah: Chapter 4, verses 1-11
1 | What have you learnt in the book of a Jonah so far? How has it changed your thinking?
2 | In Jonah chapter 4, we see Jonah’s anger about God’s mercy on Nineveh. How does this impact our understanding of God’s character and His willingness to show mercy? See also Exodus 34:6-7.
3 | What can we learn from Jonah’s attitude towards the repentance of the Ninevites? How might this reflect our own challenges and prejudices when it comes to extending grace to others? See also Matthew 5:43-48.
4 | In dramatic fashion, Jonah seems to prefer death rather than witnessing Nineveh’s salvation! Does this give us any insights into the dangers of harboring resentment and refusing to forgive others?
5 | In Tim’s talk, he quoted from Augustine, ‘Our heart is restless until it rests in you.’ Why is Jonah so disturbed, do you think? Would you say that your heart is restless? Why?
6 | Jonah expresses concern for a plant, but not for the numerous people of Nineveh. How does this highlight the importance of valuing people and our primary responsibility to share the message of God’s love with all people? See also Matthew 28:19-20.
7 | Jonah’s anger is rooted in his expectation of God’s judgment rather than His mercy. In his talk, Tim quoted Anne Lamont, ‘Everyone is screwed up, broken, clingy, and scared, even the people who seem to have it more or less together. They are much more like you than you would believe. So try not to compare your insides to their outsides.’ How can we guard against developing a narrow view of people and of God’s character and grace?
8 | In the final verse of Jonah chapter 4, God poses a question to Jonah. How can we adopt the same approach to the city we live in?
9 | Take some time to pray about God’s kindness and mercy, and ask for his help to extend it to our city.
As you work through these questions pray for one another to deepen and develop your relationship with Jesus.
BIBLE STUDY RESOURCES
What is our response to a world shot through with outright evil and disaster? Like Jonah, we have been delivered and forgiven; we must guard from begrudging that grace to others (Luke 7:36-50) and instead be vessels that extend it freely.’
[Our society shows a] ‘…shocking lack of mercy and forgiveness, where so many people seem to harbour such an irreparable animosity towards the world and each other’
‘Obadiah, Jonah & Micah’
Apollos Old Testament Commentary (AOTC) by Elaine Phillips
‘You! Jonah!’ Poems by Thomas John Carlisle
‘A Gracious and Compassionate God’ by Daniel Timmer
‘The Prodigal Prophet’ by Timothy Keller