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NORTH CHRISTIAN CHURCH PREP SCHOOL LESSON Jonah Part 2
In our last lesson we learned about following the Lord and being careful not to make vows (promises) that we cannot keep. Luke 9:62 But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” We learned that putting our hand to the plow was a way to say starting a business. Do you remember our cupcake business? Our cupcake story and this verse, of course, show us that it is impossible to complete the work in front of you if you are always thinking about the things behind you!
Hebrews 10:22 let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Once you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, what will you do with the remainder of your time on earth? Will you commit to Jesus Christ and live as a Christian? The word Christian means follower of Christ. Will you follow Him? Before you believed in Jesus Christ, you were a SLAVE to sin and your old sin nature told you what to do and you obeyed. When you believed in Jesus Christ, He became your new master, one who loves you and wants the very best for you. He paid for you with His very own life and is committed to you for all of Eternity. You should be committed to Him right back! Ecclesiastes 5:2,4-5 Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God. For God is in heaven and you are on the earth; therefore let your words be few.. When you make a vow to God, do not be late in paying it, for He takes no delight in fools. Pay what you vow! It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. Jonah is a great example of making, breaking, and returning to a vow and, also, deserved suffering. He made a decision to disobey God and he suffered because of it. There are many times in our lives when we make wrong decisions and then we end up suffering in some way. That suffering is actually a “gift” from God. WHAT?! That’s right! Sometimes the suffering stops us from making too many wrong decisions in a row! What happens when you make a wrong decision and then another wrong decision and then another? You end up changing your lifestyle. Bad decisions become a habit! God’s grace allows us to suffer in order to, hopefully, stop that.
Jonah 1:1-2 The word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me.” This is part of his vow. Jonah is a Prophet for God and his job is to warn God’s people when told to. He has been told to go to Nineveh. But, what does Jonah do? Jonah 1:3 But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare, and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.
Since the Lord takes vows seriously, He lets Jonah know that He is not happy with his decision. Jonah 1:4 And the LORD hurled a great wind on the sea and there was a great storm on the sea so that the ship was about to break up. The crew starts freaking out, praying to their “gods”, and finally decides to cast lots to see who was to blame for the storm. Well, as we read last time, Jonah
lost and now the crew knows that it was because of him. Jonah 1:8-9 Then they said to him, “Tell us, now! On whose account has this calamity struck us? What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?” He said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the LORD God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land.” Do you notice how Jonah emphasizes that “his” God is the Creator, the only true God? Even as he is running away from God, he has confidence in Him! God uses the disaster to reveal that HE is the ONLY true God to the unbelievers. God is so cool! He uses that fear to make them think about what they REALLY believe. When disaster happens, does what they believe or WHOM they believe in really save them?! Does it give them peace when the boat is being thrown around in strong waves? Our gracious and loving God uses this as an opportunity to save lost souls. This is called “crisis evangelism”. During a “crisis” God makes His plan of salvation clear to the unbelievers. Jonah 1:10-12 Then the men became extremely frightened and they said to him, “How could you do this?” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them. So they said to him, “What should we do to you that the sea may become calm for us?”—for the sea was becoming increasingly
stormy. He said to them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea. Then the sea will become calm for you, for I know that on account of me this great storm has come upon you.” God let Jonah prophesy what would happen so they would know Jonah’s God is the true God. Let’s remember that Jonah was a growing believer. He is making some wrong decisions, yes, but he is still living a life of serving God and he does NOT blame anyone but himself. He takes full responsibility for his bad decision and takes the proper action to fix the problem. That is called integrity, kids! When we make a mistake, we need to take full responsibility and do what we can to clean up the mess our mistake caused. As the story continues, we see that the sailors didn’t believe immediately. They were STILL going to try to save themselves from the hand of God. Jonah 1:13 However, the men rowed desperately to return to land but they could not, for the sea was becoming even stormier against them. Isn’t this what we see in the world today? Unbelievers are trying SO hard to save themselves by their own power without God’s grace. But, as we know, it has to be God’s way or NO WAY at all! This is the only way that HE gets ALL of the glory that only HE deserves. God does not need our help. We need His help. Jonah 1:14-15 Then they called on the LORD and said, “We earnestly pray, O LORD, do not let us perish on account of this man’s life and do not put innocent blood on us; for You, O LORD, have done as You have pleased.” So they picked up Jonah, threw him into the sea, and the sea stopped its raging. The calmed sea gives them more proof of the living, all-powerful God that Jonah spoke of. The men see that they were saved from the storm by God, and could not deny His power any longer. Jonah 1:16 Then the men feared the LORD greatly, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows.
They believed in the Lord Jesus Christ and were now saved for all of eternity! WOW! Jonah 1:17 And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights. So, we read that Jonah was in the belly of the fish for 3 days and 3 nights. Here, again, we have Jonah as a visual aid of Christ.
Matt. 12:38-40 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.” But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; for just as JONAH WAS THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS IN THE BELLY OF THE SEA MONSTER, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” At this point in the story, he is suffering because he disobeyed God. So, how does he respond to this? First, Jonah sees being swallowed by a great fish as a form of grace, since it saved him from drowning. Though he is still not saved all the way, this is a sign that God does NOT want him to die yet! Who would have thought that being eaten whole by a fish would be a grace gift from God? Well, he could have been chewed into “little pieces” by the big fish! Of course God could have put the pieces back together, but God chose to let him stay in ONE piece. How nice of Him! Let’s read Jonah’s prayer. Jonah 2:1-9 Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the stomach of the fish, and he said, “I called out of my distress to the LORD, and He answered me. I cried for help from the depth of Sheol; You heard my voice. For You had cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the current engulfed me. All Your breakers and billows passed over me. So I said, ‘I have been expelled from Your sight. Nevertheless I will look again toward Your holy temple’. Water encompassed me to the point of death. The great deep engulfed me, weeds were wrapped around my head. I descended to the roots of the mountains. The earth with its bars was around me forever, but You have brought up my life from the pit, O LORD my God. While I was fainting away, I remembered the LORD, and my prayer came to you, into Your holy temple. Those who regard vain idols forsake their faithfulness, but I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving. That which I have vowed I will pay. Salvation is from the LORD.” Jonah returns to his original vow to the Lord! Jonah 2:10 Then the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah up onto the dry land. Now that Jonah has returned to his vow, the Lord gives Jonah a second chance to do something amazing through him. Do you realize that this is true for you, too?!!! Jonah 3:1-4 Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and proclaim to it the proclamation which I am going to tell you.” So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, a three days’ walk. Then Jonah began to go through the city one day’s walk; and he cried out and said, “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” Pastor Edward J. Collins © 2015 North Christian Church