Sunday, January 1, 2012
Jonah Chapter 2
Jonah Chapter 2
- “Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his god from inside the fish.
He said, “I cried out to the Lord in my great trouble, and He answered me. I called to You from the land of the dead, and Lord, You heard me!
You threw me into the ocean depths, and I sank down to the heart of the sea. The mighty waters engulfed me; I was buried beneath Your wild and stormy waved.
Then I said, “O Lord, You have driven me from Your presence. Yet I will look once more toward Your Holy Temple.”
I sank beneath the waves, and the waters closed over me. Seaweed wrapped itself around my head.
I sank down to the very roots of the mountains. I was imprisoned in the earth, whose gates lock shut forever. But You, O Lord my God, snatched me from the jaws of death!
As my life was slipping away, I remembered the Lord. And my earnest prayer went out to You in Your holy Temple.
Those who worship false gods turn their backs on all God's mercies.
But I will offer sacrifices to You with songs of praise, and I will fulfill all my vows. For my salvation comes from the Lord alone.
Then the Lord ordered the fish to spit Jonah out onto the beach.”
- One thing that I notice in this passage that I find interesting, is that Jonah is speaking in the past tense. As if he had already been rescued from the deep. “Snatched from the jaws of death.”
- So either Jonah expected God to move on his behalf when he cried out... OR he was speaking in the spiritual sense.
- As we look at this, I want to look at both possibilities.
vs. 1-2: Crying Out
- “I cried out to the Lord in my great trouble, and He answered me.”
- Oh the grace of God... Jonah turns and runs in the opposite direction from God's will... and when he gets into trouble... and calls out to God... God comes to the rescue.
- But notice... Jonah had to take the initiative. It doesn't say that God called out to Jonah and Jonah answered God... no... JONAH had to call out first.
- God doesn't force Himself on us... but when we call out... He is always happy to answer. Sometimes He even answers when He knows our motives aren't even completely what they should be. But God sees our hearts. He knows what's best for us.
- In this case... Jonah has been brought to his lowest point in order for his heart to be in the right place to call out to God. Had Jonah not ended up in the belly of the fish... I don't know that he would have been in a place to call out to God. Jonah showed himself to be a stubborn and selfish man. When someone like that gets called out by God to change something in their lives... such as forgiving someone we are verging on hating... if not completely hating... well... we as humans... we're gonna bolt at that one.
- So sometimes God has to break our hearts. That may mean He allows us to get ourselves into some pretty big messes before we're willing to turn and accept what He has for us.
- God is the perfect Gentleman. He doesn't force us into anything... so when we turn and walk away, He'll let us go... but not without a fight. He will hunt us down and do whatever it takes to get us to turn around and come back to Him.
- But when we're finally ready to call out... He's just waiting so He can rush in to take us back in His arms.
- “I called to you from the land of the dead, and Lord, You heard me!”
- “The land of the dead.” Physically... Jonah was dying. He's being eaten alive in the belly of the whale... He's heading for death. Spiritually, when we turn away from God... we die Spiritually.
- If Jonah dies now in his sin and rebellion... he will most definitely die spiritually... for eternity.
- Even when we think it's too late... when we already feel like we've gone too far... God will still hear our call.
- Psalm 77; 18
- Zechariah 7:11-14
vs. 3-4: END OF US
- “You threw me into the ocean depths, and I sank down to the heart of the sea. The mighty waters engulfed me; I was buried beneath Your wild and stormy waves. Then I said, “O Lord, You have driven me from your presence. Yet I will look once more toward Your Holy Temple.”
- God allowed Jonah to get to his absolute lowest point... sunk down to the bottom of the sea...
- Jonah is kind of blaming all this on God... “You drove me away from Your presence...” But... Jonah was the one who ran away... It wasn't so much God driving Him away... as letting Jonah go... and working to get his attention in the meantime.
- But when Jonah finally realized he was close to death... He chose to look towards God again. Why? Well... where else was he going to look? Who else could come to his rescue?
- When we come to the end of ourselves... we have nowhere else to look. God is our only option. And when we keep looking at things outside God for answers... we're just going to keep falling further away... So a lot of times... until we come to the end of our options... we don't choose to look at God for our answers. Sometimes it's just because we're stubborn... or want to maintain our independence. Or maybe we just don't really like the way God has things planned out... we'd prefer our own way... lol
- The final word is always that God is our only choice. Even if there are other choices available... there is only ever one right choice...
- I Corinthians 8:1-6
- Mark 12:29-31
vs. 5-7: HOW LOW CAN YOU GO?
- “I sank beneath the waves, and the waters closed over me. Seaweed wrapped itself around my head. I sank down to the very roots of the mountains. I was imprisoned in the earth, whose gates lock shut forever. But You, O Lord my God, snatched me from the jaws of death!”
- Now this is prior to the whale spitting Jonah out onto the shore... so how was Jonah saved from the jaws of death already? Again, I think this speaks of a Spiritual death.
- Jonah had walked into darkness. He had walked away from God and run in the opposite direction... Well the opposite of God... is... Satan. Pure Holiness contrasted with Pure Evil... To walk away from God... is to walk into everything He's not...
- “To the very roots of the mountains... imprisoned in the earth, whose gates lock shut forever.”
- That's about as low as you can go... locked away in the earth... and still God was there... Still God went after Jonah. When Jonah cried out... God came running...
- Another author also had a similar story...
- “I will exalt you, Lord, for you rescued me. You refused to let my enemies triumph over me. O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you restored my health. You brought me up from the grave, O Lord. You kept me from falling into the pit of death... I cried out to you, O Lord. I begged the Lord for mercy saying, “What will you gain if I die, if I sink into the grave? Can my dust praise you? Can it tell of your faithfulness? Hear me, Lord, and have mercy on me. Help me, O Lord. You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!” - Psalm 30:1-3; 8-12
- David also felt that falling away feeling... fell into the grave... and God came to the rescue. But yet again... notice that God came after David called...
- “As my life was slipping away, I remembered the Lord. And my earnest prayer went out to you in your holy Temple.”
- Earnest prayer. Not random. Not a grocery list. Not nonchalant speaking with an unknown god... Earnest prayer to a God Who cares... Who listens... Who desperately wants to come to the rescue...
- God is waiting! Call out! He will come to help!
- Sure... prayers... even earnest ones, don't always get answered the way we think they should... I mean... I'm pretty sure when Jonah was praying for God to help him... he probably wasn't thinking about becoming whale puke in order to save his life...
- But regardless of what answer comes... God always has our best interest at heart.
- Psalm 116; 139
- Romans 5:1-11
vs. 8-10: CHOICES
- “Those who worship false gods turn their backs on all God's mercies. But I will offer sacrifices to you with songs of praise, and I will fulfill all my vows. For my salvation comes from the Lord alone.”
- Again... to oppose God... is to walk into everything He is not... thus... those who are worshiping false gods... have turned their backs on all God's mercies... there is no hope without God.
- But just as Joshua said to choose this day Whom you would serve... we have a choice in the matter. We can choose to worship the false gods of the earth... or to follow after God. For from He alone comes our salvation. There is no other way under heaven.
- When we finally realize that there is no other way to gain our salvation... God will save us... Just as He ordered the fish to spit Jonah out onto the beach... He will bring us up out of the muck and mire and into new life with Him... we just have to ask...
- You know... I remember a story of the blind man...
- In Jewish or Palestinian culture of the time... the blind man had no meaning to society. They were nobodies. The blind man, Bartimaeus, had no definition. The prefix “Bar” meant “son of”. His name literally meant “the son of Timaeus.” He had no name of his own.
- But when Jesus stretched out His hand to pick the blind man up out of the dust and dirt... He not only opened his eyes to see the wonders both of heaven and earth... but He also gave Bartimaeus societal definition.
- He not only gave Bartimaeus new life in the Spiritual... but also in the physical.
- When Christ reaches out and offers an invitation to join Him... He offers us a definition... He takes us from having a life of nothings... to having limitless life in Him... it just takes us being willing to follow the call wherever it leads...
- Romans 10:5-17
- Revelation 3:15-22