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Sunday School Lesson May 14, 2017 God’s Protective Love

To follow along, visit your local Christian bookstore, and ask for the Bible Expositor and Illuminator

Time:  780 B.C.  Place: Mediterranean Sea

Golden Text:  “I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving: I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord ” (Jonah 2:9).

Lesson Outline:  I.  Accepting The Situation – Jonah 2:1-4, II. Changing His Thinking – Jonah 2:5-7, III. Knowing God’s Love – Jonah 2:8-10

Lesson Outline – I. Accepting The Situation

Jonah 2:1 – Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God out of the fish’s belly. While in the belly of the fish, Jonah had time to reflect on what had occurred and recognized his disobedient. Jonah begins to pray, this is the first mentioning of Jonah praying, you would think since he was a prophet of God the first thing he would have done when the storm begins was to pray. In the previous lesson, the Bible states the sailors who were pagan worshipers was calling out to their gods, it mentions nothing about Jonah praying. God placed Jonah in a place where he could think about his actions and He does the same with His people today. He will allow situations and circumstances to come to draw us to Him.

Jonah 2:2 – And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice. Jonah’s cry for help acknowledges that Jonah knew the mercy and faithfulness of God towards His people even when they have been disobedient. Jonah describes His crying out to God because of the affliction he was experiencing. He mostly begins to pray when he was about to be thrown into the water and continued to pray as he was being tossed around in the water. He described his situation as being in the belly of hell, hell refers to Sheol, the place of the dead. It is often translated as “grave”. Although the Lord was the One who had cast Jonah into the sea by using the sailors as His instruments to throw Jonah overboard, He would be the One who delivers him.

Jonah 2:3 – For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waved passed over me. Jonah’s descriptions of his surroundings include “the belly of hell”, “the floods”, and “all thy billows and thy waves”. Putting all the phases together gives us the impression of being buried alive in the sea. Jonah’s expression of his surrounds was God’s; the sea, the floods, billows, and waves were all God’s and He was using them to discipline Jonah. Jonah couldn’t see anything but the vastness of the sea and most likely he was trying to keep afloat of the waves.

Jonah 2:4 – Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple. The man who had run from God’s presence was alone, yet he clung to the hope that God would not abandon him. The temple, the sanctuary in Jerusalem was the symbol of God’s presence. Modestly Jonah expresses himself, as one conscious to himself of guilt and unworthiness, he dares not speak of dwelling in God’s house, but he hopes he may be admitted to looking towards it. In  Jonah’s distress, he’s saying he will never again look towards Tarshish, but will again look towards the temple. He acknowledges his disobedience, but he’s depending on the mercies of God to allow him to look towards Him for his help.

Lesson Outline- II. Changing His Thinking – Jonah 2:5 -7

Jonah 2:5 – The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about the weeds were wrapped about my head. Jonah was surrounded by water, “even to the soul” could be referring to feeling close to death. The deep water engulfed him to the point the seaweed got wrapped around his head and probably was keeping him from moving. At this point, Jonah most likely was in the belly of the whale in order for him to be wrapped in seaweed along with whatever else was in the whale’s belly.

Jonah 2:6 – I went down to the bottom of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet has thou brought up my life from corruption, O Lord my God. Jonah pictures himself so deep that it is as if he had found the moorings of the mountains, the earth had engulfed him and it felt as though it would be forever. Jonah is praying a prayer of thanksgiving and his faith in God in His faithfulness to leave him where he’s at. Jonah was placing his faith in action although he was still in the belly of the whale, and it looks as though there was no way of escape for him.

Jonah 2:7 – When my soul fainted within me I remembered the Lord: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple. Jonah reaffirms his faith in the Lord and renews his committment to Him. Jonah had come to a place he remembered the Lord. The Hebrew word translated “remembered” is a word that can mean to mark or call to remembrance. When used in the Old Testament about God, it indicates that God was taking notice of the needs of His children and was about to act on their behalf.  Jonah’s soul was being comforted by knowing the God he serves would never leave him or forsake him. Jonah was no longer looking at his surroundings but looking at the God who could control his surroundings. He had faith that his prayers had came into the presence of God and He would answer his prayer.

Lesson Outline – III. Knowing God’s Love – Jonah 2:8-10

Jonah 2:8 – They that observe lying vanity forsake their own mercy. Those who worship false gods are abandoning any hope for mercy from the Lord. Any object of ur devotion that replaces God is a lying vanity. We deceive ourselves with something that is ultimately empty and foolish. In Jonah’s calmed state of mind, he was able to philosophize a little about the worthlessness of following false gods instead of the true One. To follow the worthless pursuit of belief in anything other than God is to walk away from a loyal God who is always faithful. Jonah knows that God is a covenant-keeping God who will always be loyal in His relationship with His children.

Jonah 2:9 – But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving;  will pay that that I have vowed, Salvation is of the Lord. It took a miracle of deliverance to get Jonah to do as God had commanded. As a prophet, he was obligated to obey God’s Word but he had tried to escape his responsibilities. He now pledges to keep his vows. Jonah knows salvation comes from the Lord. Jonah declares that he will keep his promise, a pledge both to sacrifice and to acknowledge God’s help. “Salvation” is the Lord who delivers His people, it wasn’t because of Jonah’s goodness, but the goodness of the Lord.

Jonah 2:10 – And the Lord spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land. When God speaks, everything must come subject to His word. The fish could have vomit Jonah in the water, but God spoke to the fish and instructed it to vomit Jonah on dry land and the fish did as it was instructed to do. In both instances, the fish was at the command of God. The fish was at the right spot at the right time to consume Jonah, now he’s taking him to dry land where he will be safe from the sea. All the while Jonah was being disciplined, he was in the safety of a loving God that was protecting him from the elements by allowing him to be in the belly of the fish for three days. In love, God disciplined Jonah for his disobedience, and in love, God protected him and got him ready to complete his assignment. Even as Jonah was being disciplined by the Lord for his disobedience, God’s protective love delivered him from death, preserved him in the sea, and brought him safely back to land. Having experienced both God’s disciplinary love and His protective love, Jonah was now better prepared to obey and serve Him.

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