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Jonah - Discussion

WEEK 1: The Call

Read this overview

Over the next 5 weeks we are going to walk through the Old Testament prophetic book, Jonah, and dive deeper into understanding God’s relentless mercy for his people and for us, as revealed in this part of Jonah’s life.

You may know nothing about Jonah or you may be familiar with this story. If you are someone with this kind of familiarity, it can be helpful but can also pull us back a bit. As a result we read ideas and thoughts into the story that have not been revealed yet. Like watching a movie and judging the characters actions in the beginning while knowing the outcome at the end. During this study, together we can read Jonah with fresh eyes and allow the text to speak for itself, allow God to speak for himself.

Begin with silence and prayer
5 min

Gather together as a LifeGroup, as a family or find time alone in a comfortable setting (around a table, on the couch, the floor of a living room, etc.). Invite the Holy Spirit to lead and guide your time. Then spend a few minutes in silence.

Why silence, even while together? Because we live in a busy, noisy world, under a non-stop assault of distraction. In the midst of all the chaos, it’s hard at times to hear the voice  of God, and that of our brothers and sisters. As we gather together as a family, we want to hear what the Father is saying to and through each of us, and respond in turn. A great way to do that is to begin each time with silence and prayer.

Reflection on Sunday’s Sermon
15-20 min

If you are in a LifeGroup of 10 or more, divide into small groups of 5 – 7 people each (ideally same gender). Spend a few minutes catching up on life. Then talk about the following debrief questions:

1. What thoughts or reflections do you have about the sermon?

2. Is Jonah a story you are familiar with or is it a new story? What do you know about Jonah?

3. Were there any specific things you heard from God?

Open to the Bible together
15-20 min

Have somebody read Jonah 1:1-3

Discuss the following questions:

1.  Biblical names have meanings that are intentional and enrich our understanding of those people and the relationship with the Lord. Jonah’s name in Hebrew means “dove”. It is the same word for dove used in Song of Solomon 2:14 and 1:15. It is an endearing name for someone you love, an affectionate name. The dove is also a sign of peace. We can think back to Noah in Genesis 8:10-11 and when Jesus is coming up out of the waters from baptism and the Holy Spirit descends upon him in the form of a dove, harkening to the Noahic sign of peace. What does Jonah’s name tell us about him and his relationship with God?

2.  What does God’s call for Jonah to go to Nineveh tell us about God’s heart for those who are far off from him?

3. A repeated theme in these first few verses is Jonah’s movement downward with the Hebrew root, יָרַד,  yarad, occurring 3 times in the first chapter of Jonah. What is the significance of this word’s usage as it relates to Jonah’s actions, consequences, and relationship to the Lord?

Work through these reflection questions
10-15 min

1. How does our society view and understand mercy? Does our understanding of mercy correlate with the reality of our relationships?

2. Do you think or feel that you need God’s mercy? Does anyone deserve his mercy? Why or why not?

3. In the sermon, the point was emphasized that God’s mercy is not dependent on us. What does this statement make you think or feel?

Close in prayer: Pray for one another to experience God’s mercy for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to receive the mercy that God gives.
5-10 min