Questions for Personal Reflection and Group Discussion
Read Jonah 1:1-6:
Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” 3 But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord.
4 But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up. 5 Then the mariners were afraid, and each cried out to his god. And they hurled the cargo that was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone down into the inner part of the ship and had lain down and was fast asleep. 6 So the captain came and said to him, “What do you mean, you sleeper? Arise, call out to your god! Perhaps the god will give a thought to us, that we may not perish.” (ESV)
Icebreaker: What was one of your favorite places during your childhood, a place where some of your best memories were made?
- What’s the problem with believing that life is only about the journey, not about the destination?
- What might be some reasons for the restlessness that many in our culture feel in their hearts?
- God asked Jonah to go up, but Jonah kept choosing to go down instead. What are some parallels in our lives today? What are some ways that we go down rather than living into God’s invitation to go up?
- People with messed up lives got there gradually, one bad decision at a time. What might be some initial “small” steps or attitudes that could start a person on a journey toward a life far from God?
- Consider whether there’s an area of your life that you know isn’t what it should be, yet you resist dealing with it and letting God into it. You might not yet feel comfortable telling your group about this, but if you’re willing, share with your group.
- When Adam became a living being, the first thing he saw was the face of God – a God of kindness and love who had provided all good things for Adam to enjoy. Yet Adam chose to run from God, and people have been running from this good God ever since. Why?
- Becky Pippert wrote in her book Hope Has its Reasons, “We tend to be taken aback by the thought that God could be angry. How can a deity who is perfect and loving ever be angry?… We take pride in our tolerance of the excesses of others. So what’s God’s problem?… But love detests what destroys the beloved. Real love stands against the deception, the lie, the sin that destroys…. Human love here offers a true analogy: the more a father loves his son, the more he hates in him the drunkard, the liar, the traitor…. Anger isn’t the opposite of love. Hate is, and the final form of hate is indifference.” Share your thoughts about this with your group.
- God ironically used a heathen ship captain to remind the prophet Jonah to call out to God for rescue. As you look back on your life, what are some surprising ways God has rescued you from yourself?
- What did you sense God saying to you through this message?