The Great Fish

Questions for Personal Reflection and Group Discussion 

Bobby Warrenburg - September 10, 2023

The Great Fish

The Gospel According to Jonah: God\'s Surprising Rescue

Scripture References: Jonah 1:17, Jonah 2:1-10

From Series: "The Gospel According to Jonah: God's Surprising Rescue"

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Read Jonah 1:17-2:10:  

     And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. 

     2:1 Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish, 2 saying, 

“I called out to the Lord, out of my distress, and he answered me;
out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice.
3 For you cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas,
    and the flood surrounded me; all your waves and your billows passed over me.
4 Then I said, ‘I am driven away from your sight;
yet I shall again look upon your holy temple.’
5 The waters closed in over me to take my life; the deep surrounded me;
weeds were wrapped about my head  6 at the roots of the mountains.
I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me forever;
yet you brought up my life from the pit, O Lord my God.
7 When my life was fainting away, I remembered the Lord,
and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple.
8 Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love.
9 But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you;
what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the Lord!” 

10 And the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land.  (ESV) 


Icebreaker:  How do you feel as you head into the fall?  Are there activities and responsibilities starting up for you that could threaten the centrality of Jesus in your life?  

 1. Are any activities or responsibilities that you could say “no” to, in order to keep Jesus and His gospel mission central in your life?

    • Could any of these activities actually be a way to “get out from under the deck” and be the aroma of Christ out in the world? Brain storm about that with your group.
    • Carl Jung said: “People will do anything, no matter how absurd, to avoid facing their own soul.” What did he mean? How have you seen this in our world? 


2. Jonah gets swallowed by a great sea dragon. There are many dragons in the Bible, and they represent the forces of chaos, death, and evil that threaten the stability and order God desires for us. But God ultimately rules over even these powers and can use them for his purposes, as He did in this story of Jonah. What was God’s purpose in taking Jonah down into the belly of this sea creature?  

3. Is God for Jonah or is He against Jonah?  Explain your answer. 

 4. Emily Dickenson wrote:
“A death blow is a life blow to some,
Who till they died did not alive become.
Who, had they lived, had died.
But when they died, vitality begun.” 

What did she mean? How have you experienced this in your own life or in the life of someone you know? 

 5. John Newton said: 
“No one ever really learned of their depravity by being only told about it….  Experience is the Lord’s school; and they who are taught by him usually learn that they have no wisdom by the mistakes they make, and that they have no strength by the slips and falls they meet with.”  

 What do you think of this idea? 

 6. Read Jonah’s prayer in Jonah 2:8-9,
“Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love.
9 But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you;
what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the Lord!”

 What does “Salvation belongs to the LORD” mean here?   Jonah didn’t get to the point of saying this until he was in the belly of a fish. What does this show us?

 7. Jesus said in Matthew 12:40, “For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”  “Three days” is a common theme in Scripture. What is the point of this “three days” theme?   

 8. How does this story give you hope?   

 9. What did you sense God saying to you through this message?