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International Bible Lessons Commentary

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New American Standard Bible Commentary

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Teaching about Hitting Bottom and Looking Up from Jonah 2

After making many wrong choices and running away from God about as far as he could go, God sent a giant fish to swallow Jonah. Jonah reported that the fish brought him to the very bars of hell at the bottom of the sea. We know God saved Jonah, because Jonah was on the outside of the bars looking in rather than being on the inside of the bars looking out — and Jonah lived to tell others about it.

Through this giant fish, God brought loving and saving troubles upon Jonah that eventually led Jonah to look up to God. In His love for Jonah, God allowed Jonah’s sins to bring him so low that he knew he had to make a choice: he could look up to God for help or he could look deeper through the bars into hell. He could look up to God and trust God to save him, or he could go deeper and farther away from God and all hope and help.

Jonah’s prayer in Jonah chapter 2 reveals that Jonah chose God’s way instead of his way; so, the fish vomited Jonah up onto dry land and he was saved. The story of Jonah can be used to help anyone in your class who may have given up or just about given up on themselves or someone else to turn to prayer as Jonah did. They can begin praying for the saving side of troubles to help them or others begin and keep looking up to God for help. They can be honest about their troubles with God in prayer as Jonah was, and they can begin to praise God and believe God will help them as Jonah did.

Some in your Bible class may be personally familiar with the idea that some people must hit bottom before they will ever look up. Recovery programs such as AA, CA, and NA help millions of people who are their way to the bottom or who have hit bottom. Al-Anon and Alateen groups help the family and friends of those who, like Jonah was, are (or were) headed in the wrong direction. Serenity Groups are a Christian Bible-based program that has also been used in churches to help many people inside and outside the church begin and succeed in the journey of recovery.

You might use the story of Jonah in chapter 2 to bring renewed hope to the hopeless, no matter what their problems. To help others and their family members in your class, perhaps some in your class would like to share some of their experiences of how they or someone they love had to hit bottom before they looked up and learned God would help them.

Go to the International Bible Lesson Commentary and International Bible Lesson for additional Uniform Sunday School Lesson Series Resources.

May God bless your Bible study and teaching!



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