These small group studies of Jonah extensive cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, lessons to learn, and applications. Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.
Jonah Inductive Bible Study
God’s Lesson in Compassion
Summary- God appointed a worm to kill the plant that Jonah delighted in. Jonah decided it was better to live than to die, due to his discomfort. God asked Jonah if he should really be angry about the plant, and Jonah said he should be angry, even to death. God asked why Jonah had so much more compassion on a plant, with its fleeting life, than on a city full of people, 120,000 of whom were still young children.
Central Teaching- God is a compassionate God, and we should have compassion on those whom He has compassion.
Key Verse- 4:11
Key Words- appointed, withered, death, life, angry, plant, compassion
Ten things this passage says-
- God appointed a worm to attack the plant.
- The plant died.
- God appointed a scorching east wind and strong sun to beat down on Jonah’s head.
- Jonah became faint, and begged with all his soul to die.
- God asked Jonah if he had good reason to be angry about the plant.
- Jonah said he had good reason to be angry, even to death.
- The Lord said Jonah had compassion on the plant.
- The Lord said Jonah had no hand in growing the plant.
- The Lord asked if He should not have compassion on the great city of Nineveh.
- Nineveh had many people, including 120,000 who were too young to know their right hand from their left, and many animals.
Ten things this passage does NOT say-
- The worm decided on its own to attack the plant.
- The plant didn’t totally die.
- Even without the plant, Jonah was comfortable.
- The desert was very pleasant that time of year.
- Jonah’s reaction to his hardship was courageous and content.
- God told Jonah that his attitude stank, and he needed to fix it.
- Jonah had good reason to be angry.
- Jonah’s priorities were right. Plants are more important than people.
- God didn’t really care if the Ninevites lived or died, He was just trying to teach Jonah a lesson.
- Everyone in Nineveh knew exactly how they were sinning.
What does this passage teach me about God?
He is in control of nature.
He often teaches through object lessons.
He always answers people’s prayers in the best way, not exactly as they pray them.
God is patient.
God asks lots of questions and is willing to help us learn, rather than telling us what we ought to do.
God values people more than plants.
God is compassionate.
How can I apply this to my life?
Keep my priorities right. Always value people more than things.
See God’s sovereign power in nature. Don’t rue the weather.
Ask questions when confronting people to help them come to a correct conclusion.
Why did the worm come to attack the plant? (Note, the plant was perhaps a fast-growing castor oil plant, known to grow rapidly in hot climates and have large, shady leaves.) V7
What was the result of the worm’s attack? V7
What does this teach us about God’s character? V7
Why did the wind come? (Note, the hot, scorching wind was usually called “sirocco,” and blew off the Arabian Desert.)V8
Why was the sun hot? V8
What did Jonah’s discomfort suggest about the shelter that he had built himself? V8
What was Jonah’s conclusion about his discomfort? V8
What did Jonah’s reaction say about his character and attitude? V8
What lesson was God trying to teach Jonah through the plant? V9
DID Jonah have good reason to be angry at the plant? V9
Why was Jonah angry about the plant? V9
Why did God ask Jonah this question instead of telling him? V9
What was Jonah’s response to God’s question? V9
What did Jonah’s response show about his attitude at this point? V9
What was God’s conclusion after Jonah’s response? V10
What was Jonah’s part in growing the plant? V10
How long was the lifespan of the plant? V10
What was God’s response towards Nineveh? V11
Why did He have compassion on Nineveh? V11
What did He mean by “more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand”? (With that many young children, Nineveh’s population could have been 600,000 or more. God was willing to spare Sodom and Gomorrah for 10 righteous. How much more would he spare Nineveh for such as these?) V11
Why did God include the lives of the animals in His summary? V11
What was the difference between God’s compassion and Jonah’s compassion? V11
What can we learn from Jonah’s lesson? V11
What do you think is the ultimate lesson in this book? (God is gracious toward all nations, towards Gentiles as well as Israelites; God is sovereign; He punishes rebellion; and He wants His own people to obey Him, to be rid of religious pretense, and to place no limits on His universal love and grace.) V11
21 He said,
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked I shall return there.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away.
Blessed be the name of the LORD.”
6 Now as for me, I said in my prosperity,
“I will never be moved.”
7 O LORD, by Your favor You have made my mountain to stand strong;
You hid Your face, I was dismayed.
10 Because of Your indignation and Your wrath,
For You have lifted me up and cast me away.
5 You have swept them away like a flood, they fall asleep;
In the morning they are like grass which sprouts anew.
6 In the morning it flourishes and sprouts anew;
Toward evening it fades and withers away.
6 A voice says, “Call out.”
Then he answered, “What shall I call out?”
All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field.
7 The grass withers, the flower fades,
When the breath of the LORD blows upon it;
Surely the people are grass.
8 The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever.
12 The vine dries up
And the fig tree fails;
The pomegranate, the palm also, and the apple tree,
All the trees of the field dry up.
Indeed, rejoicing dries up
From the sons of men.
39 “You shall plant and cultivate vineyards, but you will neither drink of the wine nor gather the grapes, for the worm will devour them.
8 When the sun came up God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on Jonah’s head so that he became faint and begged with all his soul to die, saying, “Death is better to me than life.”
11 For the sun rises with a scorching wind and withers the grass; and its flower falls off and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away.
12’But it was plucked up in fury;
It was cast down to the ground;
And the east wind dried up its fruit.
Its strong branch was torn off
So that it withered;
The fire consumed it.
4 The LORD hurled a great wind on the sea and there was a great storm on the sea so that the ship was about to break up.
17 And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights.
6 So the LORD God appointed a plant and it grew up over Jonah to be a shade over his head to deliver him from his discomfort. And Jonah was extremely happy about the plant.
7 But God appointed a worm when dawn came the next day and it attacked the plant and it withered.
19 “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.
6 The sun will not smite you by day,
Nor the moon by night.
10 “They will not hunger or thirst,
Nor will the scorching heat or sun strike them down;
For He who has compassion on them will lead them
And will guide them to springs of water.
16 “They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat;
1 Sam 3:18
18 So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. And he said, “It is the LORD; let Him do what seems good to Him.”
3 Then Moses said to Aaron, “It is what the LORD spoke, saying,
‘By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy,
And before all the people I will be honored.'”
So Aaron, therefore, kept silent.
2 Sam 15:25-26
25 The king said to Zadok, “Return the ark of God to the city. If I find favor in the sight of the LORD, then He will bring me back again and show me both it and His habitation.
26 “But if He should say thus, “I have no delight in you,’ behold, here I am, let Him do to me as seems good to Him.”
10 But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.
9 “I have become mute, I do not open my mouth,
Because it is You who have done it.
3 “Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for death is better to me than life.”
4 The LORD said, “Do you have good reason to be angry?”
4 “O you who tear yourself in your anger —
For your sake is the earth to be abandoned,
Or the rock to be moved from its place?
4 “Behold, I am insignificant; what can I reply to You?
I lay my hand on my mouth.
5 “Once I have spoken, and I will not answer;
Even twice, and I will add nothing more.”
16 It came about when she pressed him daily with her words and urged him, that his soul was annoyed to death.
2 “For anger slays the foolish man,
And jealousy kills the simple.
38 Then He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.”
2 Cor 7:10
10 For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.
3 The sons of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the LORD’S hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”
15 “So if You are going to deal thus with me, please kill me at once, if I have found favor in Your sight, and do not let me see my wretchedness.”
8 Cease from anger and forsake wrath;
Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing.
9 Do not be eager in your heart to be angry,
For anger resides in the bosom of fools.
39 Why should any living mortal, or any man,
Offer complaint in view of his sins?
8 If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF,” you are doing well.
19 You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.
32 “But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.’”
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,
2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,
5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
18 “Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the LORD,
“Though your sins are as scarlet,
They will be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They will be like wool.
33 “Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’
28 “But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him. 29 “But he answered and said to his father, “Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends; 30 but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.’ 31 “And he said to him, “Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 “But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.'”
2 “Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me.”
2 “Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and proclaim to it the proclamation which I am going to tell you.” 3 So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, a three days’ walk.
39 “Moreover, your little ones who you said would become a prey, and your sons, who this day have no knowledge of good or evil, shall enter there, and I will give it to them and they shall possess it.
6 Your righteousness is like the mountains of God;
Your judgments are like a great deep.
O LORD, You preserve man and beast.
14 He causes the grass to grow for the cattle,
And vegetation for the labor of man,
So that he may bring forth food from the earth,
27 They all wait for You
To give them their food in due season.
28 You give to them, they gather it up;
You open Your hand, they are satisfied with good.
8 The LORD is gracious and merciful;
Slow to anger and great in lovingkindness.
9 The LORD is good to all,
And His mercies are over all His works.
15 The eyes of all look to You,
And You give them their food in due time.
16 You open Your hand
And satisfy the desire of every living thing.
9 The LORD is good to all,
And His mercies are over all His works.
16 “For before the boy will know enough to refuse evil and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken.
4 for before the boy knows how to cry out “My father’ or “My mother,’ the wealth of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria will be carried away before the king of Assyria.”
11 “Leave your orphans behind, I will keep them alive;
And let your widows trust in Me.”
32 “But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.'”