BACKGROUND INFORMATION: At the time of sailboats the sailing season ended at the end of September in the Mediterranean; after that, autumn storms made it too dangerous. In the Acts we read that as many as 300 people could travel in a big sailing ship (Acts 27:37). Such ships also had roars (13). “The Lord” (“Yahweh”) is the proper name of the God of Israel (9, 14, 16).
In the grip of a storm
- What do you think about the Lord using natural disasters (such as storms, earthquakes or tsunamis) for punishing people or stopping a fleeing prophet (4)?
- What would you think about God who was not able to command the elements of nature?
- What impression do you get about the sailors in this text?
- Find from the text the things that the sailors did in order to save themselves. In which order did they proceed?
- Was Jonah afraid in the storm or wasn’t he? Why do you think so – give your reasons?
- What made Jonah sleep so soundly that he didn’t wake up in the middle of the storm?
- From the gospels we learn that Jesus, too, slept soundly in the storm. What was the difference between his sleep and Jonah’s sleep?
- How do you think Jonah felt when the sailors decided to settle the problem of guilt by throwing lots/ dice (7a)?
- Which discrepancy is there between Jonah’s confession and his life (9)?
- Why did Jonah tell the truth about his flight to the seamen, and didn’t try to explain it away (10)?
- What does the reaction of the sailors to Jonah’s confession show about them (8,10-11)?
- Why did Jonah ask the sailors to throw him to the sea instead of jumping there by himself (12)?
- What do you think was the motivation of Jonah when he said the words written in verse 12?
- Why were the sailors unwilling to throw Jonah to sea although they knew that the storm was his fault (13-14)?
- What do you think about verse 15?
- Did the faith of the sailors change for the time being or for good (14, 16)? Give your reason.
- What was perhaps the promise the sailors made to Jonah’s God. Think of various alternatives (16)?
- What does this text have to say to a Christian who tries to flee God in one way or another?
- What different means/ ways does God have today for catching people like Jonah?
- Look at the text once more and answer: how does the Lord use even the flight of his child for the good of his Kingdom?
- What in this chapter touches your heart most?
THE GOSPEL: In these verses Jonah is again a prototype of Jesus. Our Saviour was willing to be thrown to the lake which is burning with fire and brimstone, so that we wouldn’t have to be thrown there. This is how the storm of God’s anger against our sins was pacified.