NBC SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON FOR MAY 30, 2021 : TOPIC – JONAH: FIERY HARBINGER OF DOOM
IN PREPARATION FOR YOUR SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
NIGERA BAPTIST CONVENTION
DATE: MAY 30 2021
TOPIC: JONAH: FIERY HARBINGER OF DOOM
DEVOTIONAL READING: Jonah 2
BACKGROUND/LESSON SCRIPTURE: Jonah 3
When Gods saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened Jonah 3:10
By the end of the lesson, class members should be able to:
• Discuss the effects of Jonahs message to the people of Nineveh;
• Enumerate some indications of true repentance;
• Acknowledge Gods mercy as it happened to the people of Nineveh.
Some years ago, a film was produced by Mount Zion Ministries titled “The Unprofitable Servant”. It was the story of a Christian young man who was favoured by God and was employed in a company. Soon, he realised that God’s purpose for him was to be used as His instrument to preach the gospel message to the Managing Director of the Company, who was a Muslim. Unfortunately, for fear of being fired, the young man lacked the courage to carry out the assignment. Eventually, he lost his job and another Christian was employed in his place. Having prayed and was convinced of God’s assignment for him in the company, he booked an appointment with the Director and preached to him. With excitement, the man accepted Jesus as his personal Saviour and Lord almost immediately. He expressed his long desire to hear Gods word preach to him. After a while, the young man was promoted to a higher position with all the benefits attached.
The story of the first man in the above story is similar in some ways to the life of Jonah, in today’s passage. Prophet Jonah was called by God to go to the city of Nineveh and speak against the wickedness of the people. Though he initially disobeyed but eventually, he obeyed God’s command to go to the city. Interestingly, the response of his message resulted in total repentance and God changed His mind and did not punish them as He had earlier planned.
THE LESSON EXPLAINED
A. JONAH’S OBEYS GOD
The first chapter of the book of Jonah records God’s call to him to preach against the wickedness of the people of Nineveh and how he disobeyed. Subsequently, God prepared a large fish to swallow him but when he prayed and confessed his sins; he was vomited on the shore of the sea, according to God’s command (chapter 2). Later in chapter 3, the instruction to go to the city of Nineveh and proclaim the message of repentance was repeated. Of course, having learned his lesson in a hard way, the Scripture says that Jonah obeyed the Lord and went straight to the city of Nineveh for about three days. According to verse 4, Jonah’s message was simple and concise. His proclamation was, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.” In other words, the people of Nineveh had only forty more days to repent, otherwise destruction will come upon the entire city because of their evil deeds.
The benefits of obedience to God’s command cannot be overemphasised. Of course, Jonah had his reasons for rejecting God’s instruction in the first instance. He did not want a wicked nation like Nineveh that had dealt ruthlessly with the Israelites to be spared. But God is sovereign over the whole universe. He loved the people of Nineveh and will not allow them to be destroyed in their wickedness thus He chose to use Jonah as an instrument to bring back His people unto righteousness. Interestingly, Jonah obeyed and walked through the city of Nineveh for three days with the proclamation of doom in forty days, if they failed to repent of their wickedness. Believers should understand that God’s purpose is ultimate in all things, irrespective of our disposition. His word that came to Jonah to go to the city of Nineveh with a specific message the second time was a privilege because not everyone will have such an opportunity. Therefore, believers should rather obey God and be willing to carry out His assignment.
1. Discuss the reasons God was still interested in saving the people of Nineveh, despite their wickedness.
2. Discuss the mercy of God in relation to Jonah’s attitude in today’s passage.
B. NINEVEH’S REPENTANCE AND GOD’S MERCY
Jonahs obedience to God’s command the second time was prompt and remarkable. He spoke boldly to the people; they took him seriously and became terrified. To his amazement, they believed God’s message and acted promptly. They decided that everyone in the city of Nineveh, whether old or young, should fast and put on sackcloth as a sign of repentance (v. 5). The climax was the action of the king of Nineveh. He got up from his throne, removed his kingly robe and covered himself with sackcloth and sat on ashes. Then he issued a proclamation throughout the city of Nineveh saying, By the decree of the king and his nobles, do not let any man or beast, herd or flock, taste anything: do not let them eat or drink. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth. (vv. 7-8a) Undoubtedly, these are some traditional mourning signs and indications of true repentance. He added, “Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence.” (v.8b) The reason for the action is stated in verse 9, “…God may relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish. God was moved with compassion when He saw their genuine repentance. Therefore, He changed His mind and did not punish them as He had previously planned.
God’s message through Jonah was effective because it led the people to total repentance. Without doubt, he would have told them his experience in the belly of the fish perhaps with witnesses to verily his story. The people of Nineveh gave up their evil ways and violence (vv. 5-9). In response to their genuine repentance, God who is great in mercy had compassion on them. He forgave them, relented and did not bring on them the destruction He intended (v. 10). Jonah’s experience reminds us that whoever comes to God in repentance, He will in no wise cast out (John 6:37). Furthermore, the attitude of the people of Nineveh shows that genuine repentance can restore a broken relationship with God. When an individual, a people or a nation genuinely give up their sinful ways, God will show mercy, forgive their sins and heal their land.
1. Discuss the action of the king of Nineveh, according to the passage and compare it with the attitude of some leaders today.
2. Based on today’s lesson, what is your recommendation for Nigerian leaders, whether political, religious or traditional?
FELLOWSHIP AND MINISTRY BUILDING ACTIVITY
• Discuss how today’s lesson can provide hope for those who seek to mend their sinful ways.
• Let class members write a private prayer of repentance with a commitment never to go back to their sinful ways.
• Believers should be grateful to God for the great love that makes forgiveness of sins possible.
• Genuine repentance can attract God’s mercy and forgiveness.
• There is no sin that God cannot forgive, just like there is no wicked person God cannot save.
• Do not look down on unbelievers, God can pardon him if he/she repents.
• Endeavour to obey God, even when you do not fully understand the message.
• Christians should celebrate when people turn from their wicked ways.
Throughout this month, it has been interesting discussing the activities of some courageous prophets of old whom God used to effect changes in their days. Based on these lessons:
• What are some lessons you learned from Prophet Jeremiah, as a result of the roles he played in declaring God’s message to King Zedekiah
• What truth did you learn about speaking the truth to powers that be without fear of being killed?
• Did you discover new insights that will impart your life about speaking the truth or obeying God?
• What interested you most in the story of Jonah and how do you intend to apply it to your life?
• Do you have any struggle in your heart about how God changed His mind not to destroy Nineveh, as stated in verse 10 of Jonah chapter 3?
Pray that God will give you the spirit of boldness to speak the truth at all times, without minding the consequences.
Based on the lessons of the month, make a Commitment towards Your Relationship with Others.