Jonah and the Great Fish

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Jonah was called to be prophet of the Lord, but when the Lord told him to warn the people of Nineveh to turn from their evil ways, he didn’t want to go. Jonah got on a ship instead and fell sound asleep. Jonah thought perhaps he could run away from the Lord, but this is not possible. The strong storm and Jonah’s time in the belly of the great fish picture the unhappiness that we bring on ourselves when we try to flee from the Lord and deliberately act against His directions. Yet, even as the Lord protected Jonah and brought him safely ashore, the Lord will always work to guide us back to Him and give us another chance.

The Story

Read about Jonah in Jonah 1 and 2.

Ideas for discussion

  1. Why did the Lord want Jonah to go to Nineveh? (To tell the people there that they were doing evil things.)
  2. Why did Jonah disobey the Lord and get on a ship going to another place? (Jonah wanted the Assyrians to be destroyed rather than given an opportunity to turn away from evil and be saved.)
  3. What happened while Jonah was sleeping on the ship? (The Lord sent a tempest or storm that threatened to break up the ship.) How did the sailors find out who brought this danger to them? (By casting lots.)
  4. How did the sailors respond when Jonah told them to throw him overboard? (They were very reluctant and first tried every other means of saving the ship and their lives.)
  5. What was the miracle that saved Jonah’s life? (The Lord prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah and safely bring him back to land. The Lord knows what we are going to do and is always ready to help us.)
  6. Jonah was permitted to run away from the Lord instead of obeying Him. But his disobedience brought serious consequences and put the sailors in danger. When we are spiritually asleep—pictured by Jonah sleeping on the ship—consequences can help us recognize that what we have done is evil.
  7. Jonah being thrown overboard and spending time in the belly of the great fish pictures being tempted—being torn between doing what is good or persisting in what is evil. Jonah prayed to the Lord for help, and the Lord caused the fish to put Jonah on land. So, we too, should ask the Lord for help in fighting our temptations.

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