Jonah: Running From God 2
If you missed it, please click HERE for the post about Jonah chapter 1.
On to Jonah 2!
From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. 2 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.
3 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.
4 I said, ‘I have been banished from your sight;
yet I will look again toward your holy temple.’
5The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me;
seaweed was wrapped around my head.
6 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.
7 “When my life was ebbing away,
I remembered you, Lord,
and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple.
8 “Those who cling to worthless idols
turn away from God’s love for them
[or forfeit the grace that could be theirs].
9 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.’”
10 And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.
Can we all agree that something happened to Jonah in the belly of the fish?
And not just “something happened,” but that the LORD intentionally caused it?
(Jonah didn’t write, “the sailors hurled me into the sea”—You did;
not “the waves & breakers,” but “Your waves & breakers swept over me”)
Before God brought Jonah up & out, He brought Jonah down & in.
In the fish, God brought Jonah to a realization, brought Jonah to his senses,
removed some of the cataracts from his soul, humbled Jonah;
The Bible calls this conviction of sin.
This wasn’t just a negotiation or pleasant discussion that God had with Jonah;
the LORD was dealing with Jonah on a soul-level,
seismic plates were shifting in Jonah,
a soul-quake was happening in the depths of Jonah;
he needed to be broken down before he could be built back up,
- like a doctor who has to re-break a bone
that hasn’t healed properly before it can be strong again.
The Holy Spirit accomplishes this—
John 16:7-8: “Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about [or convict the world of guilt in regards to] sin and righteousness and judgment…”
This is a theme throughout Scripture…
Here are some examples of this in the Bible:
Thief on the cross—Luke 23:39-43: One of the criminals who hung there
hurled insults at [Jesus]: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”
40But the other criminal rebuked him.
“Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence?
41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve.
But this man has done nothing wrong.”
42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
This is an example of conviction of sin, but what makes the above thief’s repentance more amazing is what Matthew records in 27:44:
“ In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.”
That second thief started out insulting Christ,
and while the thief hung on his own cross paying for his own sins,
the Holy Spirit brought him low, lovingly but firmly treated him like Jonah,
and opened his eyes to Jesus, the One hanging next to him,
Who could pay for the thief’s sins instead.
Oh the mercy of God, oh His grace,
it’s never too late even at the very end of our time on earth!!!
Prodigal son—Luke 15:14-20: “After he had spent everything,
there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need.
15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country,
who sent him to his fields to feed pigs.
16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating,
but no one gave him anything.
17 “When he came to his senses, he said,
‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare,
and here I am starving to death!
18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him:
Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son;
make me like one of your hired servants.’
20 So he got up and went to his father.
Again, that’s conviction of sin—the son had his Jonah moment,
not in a fish, but surrounded by pigs.
He realized the Truth: he had sinned against his father & God,
he wasn’t worthy of forgiveness & restoration.
He realized that, then he turned from that life of sin & sought his father,
he went to him on faith to admit his guilt & ask for mercy,
not knowing what would happen.
And look at the father’s response to his son’s repentance!
“But while he was still a long way off,
his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him;
he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”
God brought the son low, & then “vomited him” out of the pig pen
back into the arms of His compassionate Father…YES! The Gospel!
Acts 2:36-41:“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this:
God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”
Peter is preaching the Truth to some of the people
who just months earlier had been shouting “crucify Him” to Pilate.
The people didn’t think they had done anything wrong then,
but look now how the Holy Spirit helps them see the Truth:
37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart
and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you,
in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.
And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—
for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them,
“Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”
41 Those who accepted his message were baptized,
and about three thousand were added to their number that day.”
Just like Jonah, the people needed to be brought low
in order to accept the Message, the Truth, the Gospel, of Jesus Christ.
Luke 22:61-62: “The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter.
Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him:
“Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” 62
And [Peter] went outside and wept bitterly.”
I cannot imagine the look Christ gave Peter when Peter betrayed Him,
but I don’t think it was of anger, a “just you wait until I get to you later!” look.
I think it was a look of pain, disappointment…and compassion, a look that said,
“I will die even to forgive this betrayal, Peter, I will finish what the Father started
and I will die even to pay for your sins, Peter…”
Psalm 139:23-24: “Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
David is essentially asking God to send him a big fish! Like asking the IRS for an audit—
that’s faith! But David knows that when the LORD does this
it is out of love/compassion,
like a gardener that prunes for fruit,
not a lumberjack that cuts down for fire.
2 Corinthians 7:10: “Godly sorrow brings repentance
that leads to salvation and leaves no regret,
but worldly sorrow brings death.”
Worldly sorrow: “It’s not my fault, no one ever told me, he/she started it,
I don’t think what I did is wrong, I didn’t do anything wrong, or
I need to fix what I did by doing a bunch of good deeds.”
All of that is the world’s way of responding to God’s diagnosis of our sin,
responding to the shame we feel…
and all of those responses lead to death. They never work.
What the LORD did in Jonah’s soul while he was in the belly of the fish,
this vitally important conviction of sin,
this must come in order for us to repent of sin, to turn from sin,
just as the diagnosis of the disease must come before we agree to the cure;
- Conviction of sin is like when your stomach is nauseous from food poisoning (“What did I eat?”);
- Repentance is the regurgitation or throwing up of the poisoned food.
- Conviction of sin is agreeing with God’s judgment/verdict—no more excuses;
- Repentance is then appealing to Him for mercy
based on His character, not our conduct.
All of this happened to Jonah in the belly of the fish—it is the love of God
- that declares His diagnosis of our sin to us,
- that humbles us to agree with the diagnosis, and
- that humbles us even lower to cry out to Him for the cure,S
to wave the white flag of unconditional surrender to Jesus Christ.
- that pays for the sins of all who cry out to Jesus.
ALL of that is the love of God, though in the process at certain points—
e.g. in the belly of the fish, in the middle of the violent storm—
it may not feel loving.
And this isn’t just a once for all event;
there is an initial repentance that comes when we
receive the Lord Jesus as our Savior & are reborn as children of God (justification). Then there are further times of repentance as we grow & mature as Christians (sanctification).
So that’s what has happened in Jonah chapter 2 in the big-picture, the macro;
here are some closing thoughts on the details, the micro:
Jonah prayed to and praised the LORD…WHILE in the belly of the fish
(not just after he was out of the fish). This whole beautiful chapter—Jonah’s prayer—
all occurred while he was in the fish, before his trial/storm ended.
What a lesson for us…
In the belly of the fish, God not only brought Jonah to a realization of Jonah’s sin;
the LORD also brought Jonah to a deeper realization
of the LORD’s compassion & goodness.
- Verse 2: “[God] answered…you [God] listened.”
- Verse 6: “But You, Lord my God, brought my life up from the pit.”
But how? Jonah was still in the whale.
Jonah’s external situation didn’t change while he prayed this prayer of humility
in Jonah chapter 2; but Jonah’s internal soul situation changed dramatically.
The LORD brought Jonah up from the pit of clinging to idols—
the idol of Jonah’s own supposed “goodness” (at least I’m not a Ninevite!).
Jonah thinking he’s in charge of his life, etc.
The LORD brought Jonah up from the pit of not clinging to the LORD’s love;
the LORD brought Jonah to a point where Jonah could give the LORD
“shouts of grateful praise” no matter where the LORD sends Jonah,
where Jonah remembered and focused on the LORD’s gift of salvation for Jonah
(which he didn’t deserve either).
Jonah prayer in chapter 2 is one of humility…and joy! That is why it is the love of God that sends violent storms & big fish into our lives to humble us & pursue us when we run from Him…it ultimately leads to our conviction of sin, repentance, restoration & joy!
-Thus, when the LORD changed Jonah’s focus to the LORD’s gift of salvation to Jonah (which he didn’t deserve), Jonah’s response was to go and show and tell
that salvation to the Ninevites around him
that didn’t deserve it either (chapters 3 & 4).
Oh the same is true for all Christians in the cities–the Ninevahs–
where we currently live!
- The LORD’s salvation is not a trinket to be kept in a china cabinet
but the treasure to be shared all the way to China and beyond.
- The Gospel is not meant to be shelved in the rec room
but shouted from the rooftops,
- not to be stored in attics
but spoken & shown in auditoriums & alleys.
The Lord commanded the fish…& it obeyed.
Again, both the power & control of God are on display in chapter 2.
From Jonah’s perspective, the great fish must have been
overwhelming, even terrifying.
Think swimming with sharks, but with a megalodon!
Yet this overwhelming & powerful creature was on a leash
held by none other than the LORD—it swallowed Jonah, but didn’t digest him…
Oh how we need grace to trust our heavenly Father
that our scariest situations also are on a leash held by Him…
He truly “works all things for the good of those who love Him,
who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
“Jesus, Savior, pilot me,
Over life’s tempestuous sea;
Unknown waves before me roll,
Hiding rock and treach’rous shoal;
Chart and compass came from Thee:
Jesus, Savior, pilot me.
“When at last I near the shore,
And the fearful breakers roar
[Between] me and the peaceful rest,
Then, while leaning on Thy breast,
May I hear Thee say to me,
‘Fear not, I will pilot thee.'” –Edward Hopper, 1871
The storms are guided
by the hands
which were nailed to the cross. -John Newton