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Limitless Grace: Jonah 1:1-3

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.—Jonah 1:1–3 (ESV)


And he prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. We’re excited to begin our new Limitless Grace sermon series. In this expository study of Jonah and Hosea, we will discover how God chose their peculiar yet profound stories to communicate indescribably beautiful truths about His plan and character.—Jonah 4:2 (ESV)

WATCH—This clip from today’s message:
ICEBREAKER - In what ways do you see the world most clearly ignoring what God
says?

Let’s begin by learning what we can about the prophet Jonah. We know very little
about him. The only Old Testament reference to Jonah outside the book of Jonah is 2 Kings 14:25.

READ 2 Kings 14:23–27

QUESTION - What are we told here about Jonah?

QUESTION - What would we expect Jonah to do if God gives him another
command?

QUESTION - What does God command Jonah to do?

Nineveh was an important city in the Assyrian Empire, an ancient superpower that
had subdued Israel in the past and would eventually conquer Israel a few decades
after Jonah’s day. The Assyrian kings used various grisly torture to subdue and
frighten enemy nations and required regular payments from conquered peoples. Israel was no exception. In 841 BC, 50 years before Jonah’s time, Assyria demanded payment from the king of Israel. In Jonah’s day, Nineveh was Israel’s most feared enemy.

QUESTION - Considering all this, how do you imagine Jonah might have felt about
God’s command to “preach against” Nineveh?

QUESTION - Who are the people or groups we easily think of as “enemies”?

QUESTION - Are there any groups or types of people who might think the church
sees them as “enemies”?

QUESTION - How did Jonah respond to God’s command?

QUESTION - What do you think of Jonah’s actions here? Look at what happened when God called other prophets.

READ - Exodus 3:1–4 and verse 17; Isaiah 6:1–13 and Jeremiah 1:4–19

QUESTION - How do these prophets respond to being called to do something hard?

QUESTION - What could account for such willful disobedience by God’s prophet?

READ – Jonah 4:1-2

QUESTION - Why does Jonah want to escape from his commission to “preach
against” Nineveh? How does he understand the ultimate purpose of his task?
From the very beginning of the book, we see that God’s prophet hates God’s plan.
Jonah was happy to prophesy God’s blessing for Israel (2 Kings 14:25). But he
couldn’t stand the idea that God wanted to forgive and bless Israel’s enemies. We
may think Jonah foolish in his attempt to flee from God (and we’d be right!) But how do we sometimes live this way ourselves?

QUESTION - Are there any areas where you currently resist God’s direction and
live at cross-purposes with the Lord? Think about why you’re not getting on with
obeying Him; what it would look like to live His way; and what exactly you need to
ask Him to help you with so that you can get on board (pun intended!) with His
plans.

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