NASHVILLE (BP) – This weekly Bible study appears in Baptist Press in a partnership with Lifeway Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Through its Leadership and Adult Publishing team, Lifeway publishes Sunday School curricula and additional resources for all age groups.
This week’s Bible study is adapted from The Gospel Project curriculum.
Bible Passage: Jonah
- How have you seen the decisions of Christ-followers positively or negatively affect unbelievers around them?
- Why might we give into the thought that some people are too far gone for God to redeem?
- How might we grow in our desire to see all people repent and believe in Jesus?
Food for Thought:
Many use the story of Jonah, a picture book favorite, as a cautionary tale of the consequences of disobedience. Yet the book of Jonah is more than a tale of a man on the run who ends up in the belly of a fish. God gave Jonah, a prophet during the rule of Jeroboam II (793-753 B.C.), the great honor and responsibility of declaring His words to His people.
Jonah enjoyed the role of prophet during a time of relative ease and safety (see 2 Kings 14:25). But when God called him to go and speak out against his evil enemies, the Assyrians, Jonah bolted in an attempt to shirk the responsibility he had previously embraced. And Jonah’s reasoning for doing so revealed a hardened and selfish heart.
The Israelites knew of God’s creation, they knew of God’s law, and they knew their purpose to be a light to the world. But so often they chose rebellion and eventually would suffer the consequences – exile and death. The Assyrians, on the other hand, didn’t know their right hand from their left, meaning they were ignorant of the truth and reality of the God they were made to reflect (Jonah 4:11). In this state, their sins would catch up with them and they would be judged and destroyed.
This was what Jonah desired, which was why he ran. He wanted their destruction and so initially refused to give them an opportunity to repent and find the mercy of God. This was calculated. This was cold. And perhaps this is us.
But Jesus, the Son of God, came into the world to save people from their sin. He came to seek and to save the lost, the sinners, the rebels. He came to save us!
Jesus, the much better Jonah, endured three days and nights in the heart of the earth not on account of faithless, calloused actions; but out of love for the Father and all who would accept salvation through His sacrifice on the cross (Matthew 12:39-41). God cares for the people of every nation, desiring that all would come to repentance through faith in Jesus and be saved. Will we? Will we come to Jesus in this way, and will we care for others the way God does?
The Gospel Project
The Gospel Project is a chronological, Christ-centered study for kids, students and adults. The Bible is not a collection of stories. It is one story of God’s plan to rescue His people from sin and death. It is the story of redemption, the gospel message of Jesus Christ. More information can be found at Lifeway.com/gospelproject.