The Gospel According to Jonah – Session 1
January 6, 2021
Jonah 1:1-17, Daniel 3:13-30
Jonah’s depicts our own with God and how Christ us in our rebellion, offering us instead.
Growing up, did you have any big moments where you rebelled against your parents? What happened?
What forms of discipline have you seen or experienced that you are grateful for? Did you always feel that way? Explain.
In this session J.D. will look at Jonah’s rebellion against God’s command in chapter 1 of the Book of Jonah. We will hear how this depicts our own relationship with God, and how Christ meets us in our rebellion, offering us restoration instead.
Watch the Session One video
What resonated with you from this first video session?
What examples have you seen where sin started with small disobedience and ended in disaster?
Looking back in your life, what has God used, like Jonah’s storm, to bring you back from your sin?
In the video we just watched, J.D. describes how rebellion is simply saying “no” to God. The downward progression of sin starts with small disobedience and ends in total spiritual disaster, and our disobedience always affects others. Just like God did for Jonah, He sends storms into the lives of His people to wake them up from the slumber of sin. That storm in your life is not there to pay you back for your sin, but to bring you back from your sin. That storm is not designed for retribution; it’s designed for restoration.
Unpack the biblical text to discover what the Scripture says or means about a particular topic.
Chapter 3 of the Book of Daniel recounts a well-known story which provides a helpful contrast to the opening chapter of Jonah’s story. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are the main characters in this story. They were all men of Jerusalem living as captives of Babylon. They were intelligent, handsome, wise, and came from well-to-do backgrounds. But they refused to compromise their worship of God for favor with the king. Which brings us to chapter 3 when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were given an ultimatum to either worship King Nebuchadnezzar’s gods or be thrown into a fiery furnace.
Read Daniel 3:13-15.
While on the surface these two stories couldn’t be more different, how are the circumstances facing Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego similar to the opening scene in Jonah’s story?
Few in the Western world are faced with martyrdom like these guys were. Many can hide in a pseudo-Christian subculture without ever having to face consequences for following Christ. But those hiding places are dwindling.
Is there anywhere in your life right now where following Christ puts you at risk? How?
Read Daniel 3:16-18.
What words or phrases stand out to you in the reply these three guys gave to the king in the face of death?
There’s an old saying: Your true colors show when your feet are put to the fire. Jonah and the three men in Daniel 3 were all men of God. They all knew the same things about God.
Why then did Jonah flee whereas the others stood firm?
What do you think keeps us from seeing and valuing God like the men in Daniel 3? Why do we drift into a Jonah-type relationship with God so often?
How would you articulate the promise of God we can cling to that gives us such joyful certainty in God’s love and care for us? Feel free to share a favorite Bible verse.
Help your group identify how the truths from the Scripture passage apply directly to their lives.
Is there an area of your life where you just keep saying “no” to God? How is that affecting you? How is that affecting the people in your life?
What will it take to get you to a place of obedience in that situation?
Looking back over your life, can you identify any storms God used for the purpose of restoration? Are you thankful for the end result even though it was difficult to endure?
What is one achievable action step you can take this week in response to what we’ve discussed today?
Thank God for His grace and mercy to us even in our times of rebellion. Ask God to give everyone in your group wisdom and discernment as they consider areas of their lives where disobedience may have crept in. Praise God for His relentless love that pursues each of us and sends us out with His message of hope for the world.
3:1. The events of Daniel 3 probably took place shortly after Daniel explained the king’s dream (see Dan 2), although some estimate that it could have been 10 or even 20 years later. Babylonian records indicate that there was a revolt against Nebuchadnezzar during the tenth year of his reign, so this may have led to the king’s desire for the loyalty test described here. The gold statue was not likely solid gold but was instead overlaid with it. Nebuchadnezzar probably decked the entire thing in gold to negate the message conveyed by the statue of his dream, wherein only the head was gold and signaled that the Babylonian Empire would only be temporary. The location of the plain of Dura has not been conclusively identified. Daniel was not involved in the events here since he remained in the capital city “at the king’s court” (2:49) while other officials—including his three friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—were called to Dura to show their loyalty. Had Daniel been there, he too would have refused to bow to the image.
3:2. The exact meaning of these seven positions is unclear other than that they are listed in descending order of rank.
3:4-5. Three of the instruments mentioned—zither, harp, and drum—are the only Greek words in Daniel. The presence of Greek words does not mean that Daniel was written later in the Greek period. Even Assyrian inscriptions that predate the Babylonian period refer to Greek instruments and musicians. Although some conjecture that the gold statue was of Nebuchadnezzar himself, this is unlikely because the Babylonians did not believe their king was divine. More likely, the image was of a Babylonian god, perhaps Nebuchadnezzar’s patron Nabu or the chief Babylonian god Marduk. Nebuchadnezzar made this demand as some form of loyalty oath to him personally.
3:6. Incineration in a furnace of blazing fire—a punishment that Nebuchadnezzar had also used on two Judean false prophets, Zedekiah and Ahab (Jer 29:22)—was a normal Babylonian penalty as seen in the Code of Hammurabi, Sections 25, 110, and 157. Perhaps this furnace was built to smelt the gold for the image Nebuchadnezzar had made.
3:8. “Chaldeans” is both a general ethnic term for the Babylonian people and, as used here, a specific term for priests who served as astrologers, soothsayers, and wise men in the king’s government. Their motive in denouncing the three faithful Jewish men was not devotion to the king’s demand but rather a hatred for the Jewish people. Hatred of the Jewish people is often on display in the Bible, as with Haman (Est 3:5-6). It reflects a hatred of the God of Israel and is expressed through oppression and attempted genocide of His people (Ps 83:2-5).
3:17-18. The king offered Daniel’s friends a second chance to worship the idol, but they persistently refused. The Aramaic imperfect verb yeseziv (“He can rescue”) in this context indicates possibility and not certainty. They were saying that God might deliver them or He might choose not to do so. Their faith in God did not rest on the belief that He would perform a miracle, but that their sovereign God could be trusted. They asserted that if God chose not to deliver them from this punishment but instead allowed them to become martyrs for Him, they would still refuse to serve the king’s gods or worship the gold statue. This is one of the strongest examples of steadfast faith in the Bible.
3:19. The enraged king gave orders to heat the furnace seven times hotter than was customary, an idiom for “as hot as possible.”
3:23. The furnace was built on a small hill or mound with openings at the top and side. So the three men fell into the furnace from the top, and the king was able to see four men in the furnace (v. 25) as he looked in through the side opening.
3:25. The king saw in the furnace a fourth figure who looked like a “son of the gods.” This may have been an angel or even a pre-incarnate appearance of God the Son.
3:27. When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out of the furnace, Nebuchadnezzar and all his government officials saw that the fire had no effect on the bodies of these men. Not only did the fire fail to burn their hair and clothing, but they did not even have the smell of fire on them. Hebrews 11:34 cites this miracle of faith, referring to those who “quenched the raging of fire.”
3:28-29. After Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were spared, Nebuchadnezzar saw that the God of Israel was greater than all other gods. Even so, he remained a worshiper of many gods, falling short of full devotion of the one and only true God.