Sabbath School Summary
By Dr Elder Masimba Mavaza
Memory Text: Jonah 4:11
And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?
One of the most interesting stories in Scripture has to be that of Jonah. Here he was, a prophet of God, someone called of God, and yet—what? He ran away from God’s call. Then, after being persuaded in a dramatic way to change his mind and obey the Lord, he did so—but then only to do what? To complain that the people to whom he was called to witness actually repented and were spared the destruction that, otherwise, would have been theirs!
What an example of someone not at rest, not at peace—even to the point where he cried out, “ ‘Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live!’ ” (Jon. 4:3, NKJV).
Jesus Himself referred to the story of Jonah, saying: “ ‘The men of Nineveh will rise in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here’ ” (Matt. 12:41, NKJV). Greater than Jonah, indeed! If not, He couldn’t be our Savior.
SABBATH: If Moses is the “humble prophet” & Jeremiah is called the “weeping prophet”, then Jonah is the “restless (“runaway”) prophet.” After Jonah finally witnessed to Nineveh by the hand of God, he got angry that the people repented & was spared God’s wrath. He cried to God that his life might be taken (Jon. 4:3). Jonah depicts a man not at rest. Christ, “greater than Jonah” also preached to us (Matt. 12:41).
SUNDAY: Jonah was a successful missionary. But he was filled with hesitation & doubting. He went the opposite direction from where God called him (Jon. 1). He sought to find his own rest & not that which Christ offers (Matt. 11:30). He failed to reason with God unlike other prophets (Exod. 4:13). He had once spoken for God but dared not enter Nineveh due to fear of the lords there (2 Kings 14:25; 18, Isa. 36).
MONDAY: Prophet Jonah learned his biggest lesson in life in the belly of a great fish; sometimes we have to reach a state where nothing in this world can help us but God. By spending a “forced” 3-day rest in the belly of the big fish, Jonah saw his dependence on God. He prayed & God delivered him (Jon. 2:1-9). He found hope in the “temple” (the heavenly sanctuary) of God (Exod. 15:17; 25:8, Jon. 2:7). God is love!
TUESDAY: Once more, God called on Jonah to witness in Nineveh (a city bigger than any city in Israel). Jonah announced; God will destroy Nineveh in 40 days. As plain & simple as his message was, it fell on receptive ears & they repented. From the king to the lowest servant, all showed their guilt (Jon. 3:1-10). The king’s decree bid the people to afflict themselves & repent (Jon. 3:6; Jer. 25:5; Ezek. 14:6; Rev. 2:5).
WEDNESDAY: Jonah dreaded that he would be called a false prophet when God spared Nineveh for their repentance. He got angry at God (Jon. 4:1-11). Yet, God took time to teach restless Jonah some salient lessons. All men, including men of God like Jonah still have things to learn. He should have been the first to rejoice when Nineveh repented. But he was jealous of his name (PK, p. 271; John. 3:16, Luke 9:51-56).
THURSDAY: The Ninevites needed to hear God’s warning from Jonah, but Jonah needed the missionary trip to be close with God. In the story, Nineveh known for its cruelty didn’t seem to be the problem, but Jonah was. We keep ourselves in the love of God by reaching out to others (Jude 21). We need to show mercy & snatch people from fire (i.e. troubles/eternal death; Jude 20-23). “Love your enemies.”
FRIDAY: For every commission, God has a provision. He who bid Jonah to warn the Ninevites was able to sustain His prophet & grant him success. Jonah would have been spared many bitter experiences if he obeyed without a doubt. Yet, God did not desert him in the hour of despair. In a series of tests & trials, Jonah learned to trust in God. God can reach thousands with a simple message & in a humble way.
—Ellen G. White, Prophets and Kings, p. 266 & Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 232.
PK- Prophets and Kings
SUNDAY- Running Away
MONDAY- A Three-day Rest
TUESDAY- Mission Accomplished
WEDNESDAY- An Angry, Restless Missionary
THURSDAY- A Two-way Street
? A “prophet of God” who was upset that the people God called him to witness to accepted salvation? How are we to understand this attitude on the part of Jonah? What a powerful example of God’s patience with His people, even when they act contrary to the light they have!
? Jonah’s story seems to suggest that God not only is in the business of saving wayward people but also is very interested in transforming His followers. How can we get a “new heart” and a “new spirit,” even if we already know the Lord and the truth for this time? What is the difference between knowing truth and being transformed by it?
? Read the book of Jude again. What is the essential message of the book, and why is that message relevant to us as a church today?
? How does the experience of working for the salvation of others do us so much spiritual good as well?
? Whatever good reasons Jonah had, or thought he had, for not wanting to go to Nineveh, God showed him how wrong he actually was. What attitude might we have toward others that could reflect the same wrong attitude that Jonah displayed?