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Jonah: Relentless Mercy

Mercy is a powerful gift from God. Although God gives it relentlessly, we often abuse that mercy. Jonah is a living example of that. He lost sight of the mercy God gave him and failed to give it to others. What we learn is that often what God does in us is just as significant as what he does through us. 

 
 

Jonah: Overview from The Bible Project

 
 

“The book of Jonah is a subversive story about a rebellious prophet who despises his God for loving his enemies.”

 

Week 1 Sermon

"The Running Man"

Have you ever tried to run away from what God obviously called you to? Running from God at times may seem right, yet we fail to understand that we can’t outrun his pursuit of us. God, in his mercy, doesn’t pursue us to punish us, but to win us back.

 

Week 2 Sermon

"Swallowed by Mercy"

Rock Bottom. You've been there, or you know someone who is there. It's nobody's definition of a good time. Yet, almost anyone will say that their lowest experience is one that left them changed - often for the better. This week, we're taking a dive into Jonah's lowest moment, and what God did in his heart when all seemed lost. 

 

Week 3 Sermon

"Trying that Again…"

Ever wanted a second chance? In this chapter, Jonah gets his second shot at obedience, and something happens that far exceeds his expectations. God can show more mercy than we think is possible, and there is nothing better than being on the receiving end of that mercy. But what happens what that mercy is extended to an enemy? We'll evaluate our reaction to God's liberal mercy and what that means for our everyday lives. 

 

Week 4 Sermon

"Mercy Given, Mercy Abused"

God is rich in mercy. We love to be on the receiving end of His mercy, yet sometimes we don’t like when He extends mercy to others. Jonah was caught in that trap. He couldn’t celebrate what God was doing, because he was blinded by his selfishness. May we fight to avoid that same trap.

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Key Themes

Jonah prophesied during the peaceful and prosperous time of Jeroboam II (2 Kings 14:23–28), who ruled in Israel (the northern kingdom) from 782 to 753 B.C. This was a time when Assyria was not a threat to Israel.

The Lord called Jonah to go to the great Assyrian city of Nineveh to pronounce judgment on it. Jonah attempted to escape the Lord’s calling by sailing from the seaport of Joppa to Tarshish, which was probably on the shores of the western Mediterranean. Eventually he obeyed the Lord and traveled overland to Nineveh.

The primary theme in Jonah is that God’s compassion is boundless, not limited just to “us” (Jonah and the Israelites) but also available for “them” (the pagan sailors and the Ninevites).


  1. God is in sovereign control over all events on the earth.

  2. God is determined to get his message to the nations.

  3. People need to repent from sin in general, and from self-centeredness and hypocrisy in particular.

  4. God promises that he will forgive when people repent.


The story of Jonah includes seven episodes, with the first three paralleled by the second three. The final episode stands alone as the climax of the story:

  1. A. Jonah’s commissioning and flight (1:1–3)

  2. B. Jonah and the pagan sailors (1:4–16)

  3. C. Jonah’s grateful prayer (1:17–2:10)

  4. A'. Jonah’s recommissioning and compliance (3:1–3a)

  5. B'. Jonah and the pagan Ninevites (3:3b–10)

  6. C'. Jonah’s angry prayer (4:1–4)

  7. D. Jonah’s lesson about compassion (4:5–11)


from the ESV Study Bible: Intro to Jonah

 
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Map 

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Bible Reading Plans

 

Jonah has only 4 chapters with 48 total verses, but this short book contains a powerful message. Check out these two Bible reading options to dive into this dynamic text:

 
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