Week 6 – Jonah
Jonah is the worst. Watch the Bible Project video on him and maybe you’ll agree. At every turn in the story he’s a cranky, stubborn, stone-hearted man, always disobeying God, spurning God’s mercy, and even fussing at God directly. Worse, Jonah was a prophet for a loving, steadfast, gracious God. It seems like God couldn’t have picked a worse candidate than this dude.
In his awfulness, Jonah provides great literary contrast. You could contrast him with the pagans in his story, who repent when Jonah is unrepentant; with God, who gives mercy when Jonah would prefer judgement; and even with the prophet you’d expect Jonah to be, who would obey God when Jonah disobeys God and who would lead others to faithfulness when Jonah would rather they perish. We can also contrast him with Jesus, who called others to repentance and faithfulness, who was merciful, and who perfectly obeyed God. Jonah is seriously a perfect anti-prophet. And you figure God should’ve never picked him. But God did; in his mysterious goodness he chose to use this cranky, resistant doofus to communicate his love for his enemies, even those who resist him.
And here’s a helpful point of reflection. I’m willing to bet that deep down you and I think we could’ve done a better job than Jonah. Which, maybe we could, who knows. But if we can see ourselves in Jonah, in all the ways he resisted God’s goodness, and understand God’s kindness towards his enemies (including us), I think we can get a lot more out of the story of Jonah. Instead of being surprised that God would ever pick Jonah, we should really be surprised that he would ever pick any of us.
Questions for Discussion
• Let’s look at Jonah 1:1-17
• What stood out to you from the passage?
• How do we see the concept of fear throughout Jonah’s story?
• Could someone read Jonah 3:10-4:3?
• Why do you think Jonah reacted to God this way?
• What are some ways God was gracious to Jonah?
• How can Jonah’s story relate to us?