A Rebel on the Run (Another Fish Story)

May 3, 2019 Preacher: Brian Cozzens Series: Guest Speakers

Topic: Foundations Scripture: Jonah 1:1–3

Home Group Study - Sermon Date: 3 May 2019

Text: Jonah 1:1-17

Opening Discussion: Identify the fisherman in your group and ask them to tell you their best fishy tale. The most amazing tale I have ever heard is of a fishermen who went fishing with a prosthetic left arm. A massive tarpon fish won the battle that day when the hand snapped off the prosthetic device, still hooked to the rod, and together the rod, the reel and the hand went down into the depths.  This would be a great tale if it had ended there, but it didn't. A fisherman from another boat came to the dock and asked a question not typically heard at fishing tournaments. He wanted to know if someone was missing a hand. The angler had caught a big tarpon with a fishing line streaming from its mouth and was dragging a fishing rod. The first fisherman’s hand was still attached to the reel. Incredibly, he got his expensive prosthetic hand back. Can you beat this story? Share your experience.


While some stories can be exaggerated and even made up, we know that the God who is the Creator of the universe would have no difficulty in accomplishing the miracles described in the book of Jonah. From our study of this book, it will become evident that the most difficult miracle is not the fish swallowing Jonah, but rather that of softening the hardened heart of the prophet. All that is necessary to observe is that our Lord understood the account of the Book of Jonah to be literal (Matthew 12:39-41), and so we need only follow in His steps and do likewise.

Jonah is unique in several ways. Jonah is a prophet more by what he is and does than by what he says. God told Jonah to go to Nineveh and warn them of God’s wrath, due to their wickedness. In rebellion and fear, Jonah instead sought to run away from God and boarded a boat heading for Tarshish. Because of His disobedience, God sent a storm so great that it caused even seasoned sailors to be afraid, but Jonah was asleep, and unaware of the storm. When the sailors woke him and asked him to call on his God, they decided to cast lots to see whose fault the storm was. After the lot fell to Jonah, they asked him where he was from and what he did. His answer “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land,” struck terror into their hearts.

Jonah, at virtually every point in this brief book, typifies Israel’s hardness of heart and unrepentant spirit. The book is not written to leave us with a warm, fuzzy, good feeling, but rather to leave us very discomforted, for just as the Book of Jonah closes with no solution to Jonah’s sin, so the Old Testament closes with no solution for Israel’s sin. Only the coming of Christ gives us the sense of relief, repentance, and restoration which God wants us to experience.

Investigation & Interpretation:

  • Read: Jonah 1:1-17
  1. What did God command Jonah to do? v.2
  2. What was his response and why do you think he responded this way? v.3
  3. What was the Lord’s response to Jonah’s disobedience? v.4
  4. What were the sailor’s three responses to the storm? v.5
  5. Why do you think the captain identified God as he did, as the “Lord God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land”? v.9
  6. Why was it strange that Jonah claimed to worship and fear God? How were his actions in opposition to that? v.9
  7. What were the consequences for Jonah’s action after his words to the sailors? v.12
  8. What were the consequences for Jonah once the sailors’ feared the Lord? v.15-16


How must I change?

  • Is there a Truth to be believed?

Jonah 1 reminds us that God is not concerned about our race, our origins, or our occupation, but with what we are doing with what He has commanded us to do. Possessing the Law and preaching it, as Jonah and the Jews did, is not enough.  What else does God require from us? (c.f. Romans 2:11-21)

  • Is there an Attitude to be fostered?

Jonah rested peacefully in the hold of the ship, while “there was a mighty tempest on the sea”, but no one was ever more clearly disobedient to the will of God. Why is it that “having peace” may NOT always be evidence of being in the will of God?

  • Is there a Behavior to be changed?

Jonah’s sin prompted the wrath of God and all who were on board that ship, with him was in great danger. It was only by casting Jonah overboard that the sailors were saved. How should we, the church respond when there is obvious sin being entertained amongst us? (c.f. Mathew 18:15-20)


The sailors were saved because they obeyed what they knew to be God’s will. They had learned that their “gods” were no-gods, that they could not answer their prayers nor could they control the sea. They knew that sin brought divine judgment. They learned that the God of Israel was the Creator of heaven and earth. And they were told that they would be saved by the “death” of Jonah, a Jew.

The gospel for men and women today is the same, in principle, but more specific. Jesus Christ is truly God, the Creator and Sustainer of all creation (cf. Col. 1:16-17). Through faith in Christ, in His death, burial, and resurrection, we are saved. We, like the sailors on board that ship, are in danger of divine judgment. We, like them, are saved by the death of another, a Jew. Jesus Christ bore the wrath of God so that we might be saved. Jonah, like Jesus, died and thus others were saved. Unlike Jonah, Jesus was sinless, and He voluntarily gave up His life on the cross of Calvary to save all who would believe in Him.


Prayer Points:  

  1. Pray that NLC would see the danger of sin and we would flee from it towards Jesus.
  2. Pray that we would be obedient to what God has commanded us to do.
  3. Pray that God would forgive us for our lack of sensitivity to sin in our own life as well as the lack of sensitivity to the consequences of our sins on other people’s lives.

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