Jonah (Gospel-Centered Life in the Bible) – Iain Duguid

Jonah Iain Duguid
Jonah: Grace for Sinners and Saints Series: Gospel-Centered Life in the Bible
Published by New Growth Press on August 26, 2019
Genres: Non-Fiction, Devotional
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This small group guide includes ten in-depth lessons for one-to-one discipleship, small group, or large group settings. Explore this resource and find a God who relents, a God who is sovereign, and a God who is present among the mercies and trials of life.
Jonah: Grace for Sinners and Saints offers Scripture-based, theologically rich content with an easy-to-follow structure to engage readers. Duguid explores how we are more like Jonah than we might think, bringing the text to life by examining our own motives and affections.
Duguid doesn't leave readers in the judgment and spiritual arrogance of Jonah. He shows us the good news that the Lord is in charge, even over those who try to run from him.
With rich discussion questions, exercises, and articles to encourage thoughtful responses to the text, this study guide helps readers see Jesus more clearly in the themes found in the book of Jonah.

Jonah is one of the most famous and misunderstand books of the Old Testament. Sunday School teachers paint it as a crazy-but-true Bible story meant for kids™. Critical scholars discount the whole thing as a parable of sorts, not grounded in historical or scientific evidence. Most Christians view Jonah as sort of a conflicted but good character. It becomes very difficult to read the book outside of the childhood biases instilled from a child’s level retelling of the story.

Into all of this comes Iain M. Duguid with this volume of The Gospel-Centered Life in the Bible. Dr. Duguid is professor of Old Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary and author of several commentaries. He brings a solid, conservative, Reformed perspective to the text.

The Gospel-Centered Life in the Bible series was written with the express purpose of connecting people with the message of grace and hope in the Gospel. To this end, this study is fairly straightforward and simple, focusing on modern applicational value.

There are no video elements to this study, but the book is divided into these sections:

Big Idea. A summary of the main point of the lesson. This is a simple, single paragraph for easy reminder and reference.

Bible Conversation. (15-20 mins) This introduces the biblical text and gives a selection of discussion questions. All these questions have applicational value, inviting students to get themselves into the mindset and position of Jonah and the other individuals in the story.

Article. (15-20 mins) In lieu of video content, these studies have a short article written by the author that follows with more discussion questions. The article can be read aloud by students or read silently. I would recommend having students take turns reading aloud to encourage group participation. Do be conscious and aware of any students that might have reading difficulties.

Exercise. (15 mins) The next section is a worksheet that invites students to take a more personal and in-depth assessment of themselves. This is meant to be filled out privately, but be willing to share some of your own observations with the group and invite group discussion if they are comfortable.

Wrap-Up and Prayer. (5 mins) The final section is meant for a conclusion and prayer. Here, students are given a challenge to think about until the next week.

Overall, the lesson planning is solid. Based on your group, you may have to supplement with further questions, but the series does a reasonable job setting foundational questions that invite further discussion. It’s definitely geared toward adults. The structure is something that could be adapted for high school or young adults, but the intended audience is probably older.

There are ten sessions in the series.

  1. Not a Fish Story (Jonah 1-4)
  2. Running from God (2 Kings 14:23-27, Jonah 1)
  3. Redeeming the Runaways (Jonah 1, Mark 4:35-41, Luke 22:39-46)
  4. Salvation is of the Lord (Jonah 2)
  5. Full Judgment, Full Salvation (Matthew 12:38-42)
  6. The Most Difficult Areas of Life (Jonah 3:1-5)
  7. A Call to Repent (Jonah 3)
  8. The God Who Relents (Jonah 3:5-4:2)
  9. Is It Good that You Are Angry (Jonah 4)
  10. Mercies and Trials (Jonah 4)

The book concludes with a section just for leaders that has additional information. I usually prefer, if the student text and leader text is going to be the same book, to just integrate all the information into one text. Especially when the lessons are primarily meant to be read, there’s no real reason to have this information separate from the text.

This isn’t my favorite study of Jonah that I’ve recently read. Eric Mason’s study of the book published by RightNow is the one I just took my high school group through. But if you want a book-based, straightforward study, Jonah: Grace for Sinners and Saints this is a solid resource as well.