The Gospel According to Jonah -Session 6
February 10, 2021
We should rearrange our in light of the of God’s great mission.
Can you think of a time when keeping the big picture in mind was important?
This is our last session in this study. What idea, realization, or anecdote is sticking with you to give you a new understanding of the gospel?
In this session J.D. will guide us through Jonah 4:5-11, the end of Jonah’s story. Notice Jonah’s reaction to God’s work in Nineveh and consider what it reveals about him . . . and about you.
Watch the Session Six video.
What out of this session, or this whole study, has stuck with you most?
What did you find most transformational?
Spend a few minutes reflecting on these questions: What in your life do you care most about? What do you shed tears about?
How is Christ’s great love for us, as seen in studying Jonah and these other places of Scripture, changing your response to Him?
The Book of Jonah leaves us with a question: What do we most about? Why do we have so much for things that really don’t and so little passion for the things that actually do? The repetition of “great” is there to demonstrate the greatness of God’s mission to save humanity. As J.D. pointed out, you can either be part of the , self-sacrificial of Jesus, or you can walk in disobedience like Jonah.
Unpack the biblical text to discover what the Scripture says or means about a particular topic.
Inspired by the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul penned some of the richest, most theologically deep thoughts ever recorded. In Romans 9:1-5, we get a clear reminder that the things of God were not just mentally stimulating for Paul; he carried the gospel as his most important possession. He didn’t just write about God, he treasured God. His words in Romans give stark contrast to the final words of Jonah in Jonah 4. Jonah lost sight of the grace shown to him. This brought about bitterness and selfishness instead of loving selflessness in his reactions to what God was doing. Much like we have done in earlier sessions in this study, setting Jonah up against another key biblical figure (in this case Paul) provides a way to examine Jonah’s heart and our own. One question to bear in mind during this session is: What should my life look like if it were marked by the same conviction in the gospel and compassion for my neighbors as Paul had?
HAVE A VOLUNTEER READ Jonah 4:5-11 and ROMANS 9:1-5.
Paul begins this section by saying “I am not lying” which he only does two other times in the New Testament.
What does this tell us about what he is about to say?
Read Romans 9:2-5 (see also Romans 10:1). What do we know about Paul’s “brothers” from his words here?
Contrast Paul and Jonah. What were their reactions to the state of those around them, and how were those reactions influenced by their knowledge of God?
Jonah wanted Nineveh to suffer while Paul wanted Israel to be redeemed.
Why was Paul in such anguish? To put it another way, what did Paul get that Jonah missed?
Why do you think we so often find ourselves reacting to God like Jonah in Jonah 4:5-11 instead of Paul in Romans 9:1-5 when it comes to the gospel? How do we grow beyond this?
How should the story of Jonah, and the fact that Paul is talking about Israelites, serve as a warning to those in the church today?
Help your group identify how the truths from the Scripture passage apply directly to their lives.
Have you received the gift of grace for yourself personally?
Has that experience of grace so transformed your heart that you have become a person of compassion and generosity?
Have you rearranged your life priorities in light of the urgency of that great mission?
What do you sense God calling you to in light of hearing and studying the gospel message through the Book of Jonah?
Thank God for the power of the gospel. Pray for the people in your group to embrace God’s grace in a way that radically changes their lives and priorities. Pray for boldness to live out the truths you all have learned over these weeks.
Visit LifeWay.com to purchase the study guide for more in-depth personal and group study.
9:1-3. Paul is so struck at the end of chapter 8 with the powerful and protecting love of God—and the fact that most of Israel has not experienced that love making it seem as if God had not kept His promises to Israel—that his love for his nation bursts out in a display of brokenness that would shame most who claim to have a “burden for the lost.” Fearing it may appear that he has no concern for the lost condition of most Jews in light of God’s sovereign oversight of salvation, he confesses his sorrow and unceasing anguish over Israel’s spiritual condition. His concern is not sentimental, traditional, or fleshly—rather, it is a concern validated by the Holy Spirit. Paul demonstrates the valid role that the conscience can play in the spiritual life when it has been shaped and disciplined in spiritual maturity (Heb. 5:14).
Paul is acknowledging the great chasm that existed between God’s original plan for Israel—“You will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Ex. 19:6)—and the recent and present reality—“The chief priests and the elders of the people came to the decision to put Jesus to death” (Matt. 27:1). What had happened? How did the nation that was to act like a conglomerate of priests end up being led by priests who put their own Messiah to death?
The truth of this reality broke the apostle Paul’s heart all the more because he had been one of the most ardent persecutors of Jesus and His Way. Paul had experienced a radical transformation, but he knew that the vast majority of Israel had not. Nowhere is this seen in sharper contrast than Acts 9. From that point on, Paul—the apostle to the Gentiles (Rom. 11:13)—made the Jewish synagogues of Asia Minor and southern Europe his first stop in preaching the gospel (Acts 13:5, 14; 14:1; 17:1-2, 10, 17; 18:4, 19; 19:8). Why? Because the Jews were his brothers, his kinsmen (Acts 13:26, 38; 22:1; 23:1,5-6; 28:17), and his heart ached for their salvation.
One wonders if Paul ever outlived the grief he must have felt about stirring up so much hatred against Christ among the leaders in Israel. Forgiveness cleanses the conscience, but it does not remove the regret. In that spirit, Paul declares his willingness to be cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of his brother Israelites. The strongest imprecation in the Greek language—anathema (eternally condemned; see Gal. 1:8–9)—is what he declares himself willing to be if only Israel could be saved.
Once before, when Israel rebelled against God at Sinai, its leader had offered his own life in return for God sparing theirs (Ex. 32:32). Both then, and in Paul’s case, the human side of salvation is seen: the responsibility to intervene in every manner possible to save the lost, and the responsibility of the lost to believe. Because God has ordained human involvement in the salvation equation, Paul goes about it as if it all depended on him. Why else would he risk his life on numerous occasions, and enter into arguments and debates and dialogues in synagogues and marketplaces to try to persuade unbelievers to believe the gospel?
9:4-5. But there is another side of the gospel, and that is the side of God’s sovereign election; His unconditional choosing. Israel was begun through a man whom God chose out of the human pool in the Chaldees, Abram by name. When his descendants reached nationhood size, He plucked them out of the backwaters of obscurity in Egypt and made them His nation at Sinai. God did not choose Israel because of anything in Israel (Deut. 7:7), but because of something in Himself—purposeful love and mercy.
The evidence of his choosing is plentiful: “adoption as sons … divine glory … covenants … the law … temple worship … promises … patriarchs … the human ancestry of Christ.” God sovereignly bestowed on Israel all of this and more. Along the way, however, many (from the human perspective) had not acted responsibly in responding faithfully to God’s gifts. They had wandered outside of the covenant provisions and so were not experiencing the covenant blessings. This raises the question Paul is seeking to answer in this chapter: Has God failed to keep His word to Israel? How does one mesh human responsibility to believe and remain faithful with God’s sovereign choice which, according to Romans 8:30, leads to glorification at God’s initiative? The key to understanding how God works in human salvation is to understand how He has worked, and is working, in the salvation of Israel.