Everyone loves a good story, and God is no exception. Of His revelation to mankind recorded in the Bible, stories compromise a whopping 40% of the Old Testament and 60% of the New, far exceeding all other types of biblical literature (epistles like Paul’s, poetry, proverbs, and prophecy). Therefore, for us to understand God’s Word, we must learn how to appreciate, study, and apply the stories of Scripture. That begins with understanding their unique power to communicate truth. The purpose of all Scripture is to communicate truth; every type of biblical literature conveys truth. But stories do so in a uniquely powerful way. They engage not only our minds, but also our senses and emotions. Stories invite us to share an experience of God’s truth. We enter into the lives of the story’s characters; we share their joy and pain, their victories and defeats. And in that experience, God’s truth takes hold of our hearts and minds and changes us in the process.
What’s the big idea?
Surveying a book like Jonah allows you to grasp the big picture and the overall storyline of the book before getting caught up in the details. This survey provides a helpful road map to guide your study during the coming weeks. So begin this crucial first step by taking the next thirty minutes to read straight through Jonah without stopping.
1. Ask yourself the Who/What/When/Where/Why.... of this story? Who are the central characters? What do we learn about them?
2. How does this story affect you? What emotions does this story illicit in you? How does it draw you in personally?