Trusting and Following God: Teenage Bible Study on Jonah 1:1-3

Hey, incredible teenagers! Welcome to another awesome Sunday school session. Today, we’re diving into a topic that is not only relevant but crucial for your faith journey: “Jonah and Obedience: Trusting and Following God.” As teenagers, you face numerous choices and decisions that can shape your future. It’s essential to learn how to trust and follow God’s leading, even when it goes against your desires or expectations.

The story of Jonah teaches us valuable lessons about obedience, trust, and the consequences of running away from God’s plans. This topic will help you understand the importance of surrendering to God’s will and walking in obedience to His Word. As you explore Jonah’s journey, you’ll discover how God’s grace, mercy, and sovereignty are at work in your own lives. So, let’s jump right into this engaging lesson!

Bible Reading 1: Jonah 1:1-3 (NIV)

“The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: ‘Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it because its wickedness has come up before me.’ But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.”

Explanation For Teenagers:

  • God called Jonah to go to Nineveh, a great city known for its wickedness.
  • Instead of obeying, Jonah chose to run away from God’s command.
  • He headed in the opposite direction, boarding a ship bound for Tarshish.
  • Jonah’s disobedience stemmed from his unwillingness to fulfill God’s mission to a wicked city.

Youth Group Discussion Questions:

  1. Why do you think Jonah chose to run away from God’s command?
  2. Have you ever found yourself resisting or running away from God’s calling or instructions?
  3. How can fear or personal desires hinder us from trusting and following God?
  4. In what ways do you see teenagers today struggling with obedience to God’s Word?

Bible Reading 2: Jonah 1:4-17 (NIV)

“Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship. But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep. The captain went to him and said, ‘How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us so that we will not perish.’

Then the sailors said to each other, ‘Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity.’ They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah. So, they asked him, ‘Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What kind of work do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?’

He answered, ‘I am a Hebrew and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.’

This terrified them and they asked, ‘What have you done?’ (They knew he was running away from the Lord because he had already told them so.)

The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So, they asked him, ‘What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?’

‘Pick me up and throw me into the sea,’ he replied, ‘and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.’

Instead, the men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before. Then they cried out to the Lord, ‘Please, Lord, do not let us die for taking this man’s life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, Lord, have done as you pleased.’ Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm.”

Explanation For Teenagers:

  • As the storm raged, the sailors panicked and each called on their gods.
  • Jonah, who was sleeping below deck, was confronted by the captain to call on his god.
  • The lot fell on Jonah, revealing that he was responsible for the calamity.
  • Jonah confessed his identity as a Hebrew and his attempt to run away from the Lord.
  • Recognizing Jonah’s guilt, the sailors tried to row back to land but eventually threw him overboard to calm the sea.

Youth Group Discussion Questions:

  1. How do you think the sailors felt when they discovered Jonah’s disobedience to God?
  2. Why do you think the sailors tried their best to avoid throwing Jonah overboard?
  3. In what ways do you see the consequences of disobedience affecting teenagers’ lives today?
  4. How can we learn from Jonah’s experience and apply it to our own lives when faced with disobedience or running away from God?

Bible Reading 3: Jonah 2:1-10 (NIV)

“From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. He said: ‘In my distress, I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead, I called for help, and you listened to my cry. You hurled me into the depths, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me. I said, ‘I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.’ The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. To the roots of the mountains, I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you, Lord my God, brought my life up from the pit.

When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them. But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed, I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’

And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.”

Explanation For Teenagers:

  • Jonah, swallowed by a great fish, prays to the Lord from the depths of the sea.
  • He acknowledges his distress and God’s mercy in answering his cry for help.
  • Jonah describes his desperate situation and his decision to turn back to God in prayer.
  • He recognizes the futility of idols and pledges to offer sacrifices and fulfill his vows to the Lord.
  • God commands the fish to release Jonah, and he is vomited onto dry land.

Youth Group Discussion Questions:

  1. How do you think Jonah’s experience inside the fish impacted his perspective on obedience and following God?
  2. What can we learn from Jonah’s prayer about the faithfulness and mercy of God?
  3. In what ways can we see Jonah’s prayer as an example of repentance and surrender?
  4. How can we apply the lessons from Jonah’s prayer to our own lives when faced with disobedience or running away from God?

Youth Group Game: “Obedience Race”

Materials needed: Obstacle course setup, blindfolds


  1. Set up an obstacle course in an open space using objects like cones, ropes, and chairs.
  2. Divide the group into pairs, with one person blindfolded in each pair.
  3. The blindfolded person must trust and listen to their partner’s instructions to navigate through the obstacle course safely.
  4. Time each pair as they complete the course, and the pair with the fastest time wins.

Note: Emphasize the importance of trust, communication, and obedience in successfully completing the challenge.

Closing Prayer

Gracious God,

Thank You for the story of Jonah and the powerful lessons it teaches us about obedience, trust, and following Your plans. Help us to understand the significance of surrendering our desires and aligning our lives with Your will. Give us the strength to overcome the fear, doubts, and distractions that may hinder us from obeying Your voice. Teach us to trust in Your sovereignty and embrace Your perfect plans for our lives.

In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

As you go from here, may you remember the importance of obedience, trust, and following God’s leading in your daily lives. Embrace His call, listen to His voice, and walk in His ways. Stay tuned for more exciting lessons that will equip you on your faith journey. God bless you all!

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