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Jonah 1:1-3a, 4, 11-12, 15, 17; 2:10; 3:1-5, 10; 4:1, 5-7, 9 1
1 The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” 3 But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. … 4 Then the LORD sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. … 11 The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?” 12 “Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.” … 15 Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. … 17 But the LORD provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights. 10 And the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land. … 1 Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time: 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.” … 3 Jonah obeyed the word of the LORD and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very important city—a visit required three days. 4 On the first day, Jonah started into the city. He proclaimed: “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.” 5 The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. … 10 When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened. … 1 But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. ‘’’ 5 Jonah went out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. 6 Then the LORD God provided a vine and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the vine. 7 But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the vine so that it withered. … 9 But God said to Jonah, “Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?” “I do,” he said. “I am angry enough to die.”

clip_image009Background and Biblical Truths 2

The book does not say who wrote it. It is unlikely that Jonah was the author. This is because the story is not very favourable towards Jonah. No writer in the Bible tells such a bad story about himself.

Jonah was a prophet in the land of Israel about 800-750 BC. During this time, an important event happened to Israel. Israel shared its northern border with Syria. When the army of Syria defeated the army of Israel in war, it took some of Israel’s land. Then the army of the country of Assyria defeated Syria in war, which made Syria weak. Then Jeroboam (king of Israel 793-753 BC) was able to get his land back. Jonah had said that God would cause this to happen (2 Kings 14:25).

However, when the people of Israel won battles against their enemies, they became proud of their power. The people forgot the special relationship that Israel had with God. They thought that God might be angry with other nations, but not angry with Israel. Israel was God’s special people!

It was at this time that the Lord sent Jonah to the city of Nineveh. (Nineveh was the capital of the land of Assyria, a powerful and cruel enemy of other countries.) God wanted Jonah to warn the people of Nineveh. He was going to punish them soon, because of their evil lives. But God cared even for the Assyrian people in Nineveh. This means that God cares for everybody. Jonah expected God to punish the bad people of Nineveh, not to be kind to them. God shows Jonah that his thoughts are wrong. The people of Israel should care for everyone and everything that God has made.

Items for Discussion

  • Do you take stories like Jonah literally or figuratively?
  • In what way did Jonah refuse to listen to God?
  • Can you find a parallel in the New Testament for the “Three Days?”
  • What parallel can you find with the action of throwing Jonah into the sea and the sea becoming calm?
  • Based on this story, what would you expect God to do when Christians do not listen to God?

 

Ephesians 4:17-32
17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. 20 You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. 21 Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. 25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. 29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Background and Biblical Truths

The Book of Ephesians is in the Bible’s New Testament. Paul wrote this letter to the church at Ephesus, which he had led for over two years (Acts 19:10).

When Paul wrote the Book of Ephesians, Paul was in prison. But the letter is not a sad letter. Paul was excited about God’s good gifts (Ephesians 1:3). Paul was pleased that the Christians in Ephesus continued to serve God. Paul wanted to encourage them. And he told them about his prayers for them (Ephesians 1:15-22, Ephesians 3:14-21).

Paul reminded the Christians in Ephesus that previously they were enemies of God. But God sent Jesus to die for them. Because of Jesus’ death, they became friends of God (Ephesians 2:11-22). So, they should live lives that please God (Ephesians 4:17-32, Ephesians 5). And, they should trust God more. God had appointed teachers to help the Christians. And the Christians would learn to be more like Jesus. Troubles would come, so they needed God’s protection (Ephesians 6:10-18).

In these verses, Paul describes how these people lived before they became Christians. The new Christians should have now stopped living that kind of life. But all round them are those who still live in a bad way. These people do not know God. Paul writes to those who are Gentiles. But now, by the grace of God, they are different from the other Gentiles. They are no longer without God in the world. They are no longer without hope (see 2:12). They share the promises that God made to the Jews.

Verses 17-18 Paul writes about the Gentiles. ‘Their minds are confused. They are like blind men, who can see nothing.’ There is no real wisdom in their minds. Paul is now speaking very seriously. He wants the new Christians to be careful. He wants them to listen to what he is saying. ‘I say this in the name of the Lord’, he says. He describes the kind of life that they used to live. They lived like that before they became Christians. It was the very worst kind of life that you can think of. It was very evil. That is how it was in Greece and Rome then. And it is like that in our world today.

Items for Discussion

  • Look at verse 31, what are the five things that a Christian must stop doing?
  • Why is each of the five bad for our relationship with God?
  • Verse 18 has been used to describe the “unforgivable sin.” If there is such a sin, what would you say it is?
  • Why is Christ so important to understanding how to live?
  • What is the danger to have one’s heart darkened to the truth? What do you think that really is?

Discussion Challenge

  • While the story of Jonah may sound like a child’s fairy tale, why is it important to every Christian to understand the message of this story?

Notes:

  1. NIV New International Version Translation
  2. Notes taken from http://www.easyenglish.info/
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