May 7, 2017 Sunday School Commentary
Lesson Guide, The Bible Expository and Illuminator
Topic of Lesson: God’s Sustaining Love
Devotional Reading: Psalm 139:1-12
Highlighted Text: Jonah 1:7-17
Key Verse: “The sailors were terrified when they heard this, for he had already told them he was running away from the Lord “Oh, why did you do it?” Jonah 1:10
I was about 5 years old when I decided that I’d run away. Yes, that’s right. At the tender age of 5, in my mind, I had the world figured out. My parents had just moved to another city and I was far away from everything that I knew and loved. I was even in a new school where the people talked funny and were not as kind as my small town community. One day, I gathered my courage, waited until my mom dropped me off at the entrance of the school and I dashed off into the other direction of the school. I ran as fast as I could even though I had no idea of my destination. All I knew was that I needed to escape my “troubles”. It wasn’t long before my parents pulled up alongside me, scooped me up, and took me back to where I was supposed to be all along.
The text this week drives home to all of us in some form because we’ve all run from something, at some point in our lives. Here, we have Jonah, who is running from an assignment from the Lord. As you delve into the lesson today, consider and reflect on your own “running shoes”. Are you in complete obedience to God’s will for you or are you holding back for some reason or another? Keep in mind that holding back can be a form of running, especially if you know God has destined you for more. Most importantly, remember that God’s sustaining love that forgives even the best runners.
Jonah’s Fault (Jonah 1:7-12)
When the Lord gave Jonah, the prophet, a message to go and prophesy his judgment on the city of Nineveh; rather than obeying, Jonah decided to run. Jonah knew that God was a forgiving God and if the people repented, the judgment would cease. He feared that the people would never truly repent in their hearts and learn from their sins because they knew that God would forgive them every time. Jonah bought a ticket, got on a ship and sailed for Tarshish, which was roughly 2500 miles in the opposite direction of where he should have gone.
When the Lord sent a massive storm to break the ship, the sailors aboard did everything they could to determine the root cause of the storm, from praying to their gods to casting lots. When everything they did turned to Jonah, they questioned him on what the cause of the storm was and who he truly was. Jonah was honest and upfront in his identity and the root cause of the storm and the troubles that they were encountering. He even acknowledged that he was the source of the storm because of his disobedience and knew that the storm would calm if he were thrown overboard.
Jonah owned up to the fact that it was his own sin that was the source of all the troubles that were happening. When sin occurs, the first thing that we, as Christians, must do is acknowledge it. If we fail to acknowledge our sins, we fail to truly chart down the path to repentance and experience God’s grace and mercy.
Sailors’ Prayer (Jonah 1:13-17)
The sailors knew and believed that Jonah was the source, but they did not want to be responsible for taking a man’s life. They tried to row the ship even harder to get to land, but the storm worsened. Finally, they prayed to God for forgiveness, picked up Jonah and threw him into the raging sea and the storm stopped immediately. The sailors knew then, that God was mighty, powerful, and the one true living God and they vowed to serve Him.
All the while, God caused a great fish to swallow Jonah and he remained inside the fish for three days and three nights.
Who knows if your testimony or acknowledgement of sin could be the source of someone else’s acceptance of Christ? Jonah had many faults, but as a result of his acknowledgement and the sailors seeing the work of God for themselves, the sailors acknowledged who God truly was. Even throughout all of Jonah’s running escapes, God still cared and loved Him. God could have swallowed him up into the sea and asked another prophet to deliver his message, but instead he put him in a safe place for three days.
There’s no greater love than the love of Christ for us. Despite our sin, our disobedience, our running, and many faults, He still forgives embraces and loves us. That type of agape love only exists through Jesus Christ. If we can give any message to the world about who God is, the story of Jonah reflects a true love story of sin, rebellion, judgment, repentance, love, and uplifting. That’s what our God truly represents.
Commentary by, La’Tonika Blackmon
Contributing Writer for
Spirit Realm Divine Manifestation Ministries