Jonah 1:15 "Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm."
After praying to the one true God, sailors obeyed the prophet Jonah—they threw him overboard and the storm immediately stopped. The men feared the LORD, the men offered a sacrifice to the LORD, and the men made vows to the LORD. However, they still had no idea about repentance. When Jonah went overboard, they lost their only contact with a Jewish prophet who could have helped them grow in truth.
Some commentators see that these sailors did become believers here. Having seen God’s potential judgment, they willingly made a sacrifice and then vowed to serve the living God for the rest of their lives.
These pagan sailors might not have known what all was involved. They were learning on-the-fly as with any. But this verse foreshadows the “It is finished” in the ministry of Jesus’ person and work. Christ's sacrifice satisfied the Father's anger so that, as his child, you will receive his discipline, but you do not need to fear his wrath.
I want to be as satisfied with Christ as my debt is satisfied *by* Christ. Those not satisfied with Christ love their lives too much, but also too little. Yet, I am deeply satisfied with Christ but thankful God is not satisfied with my still imperfect satisfaction, but rather with Christ in me.
Father, the most dangerous trial is no trial and everything goes well; for then we are tempted to forget you, Lord. Thank you that in times like we have seen in this chapter, your sovereign hand is our pillow to rest upon. Lord, we most of all thank you that nothing can ever move forward past your once-for-all sacrifice that has been accomplished in Christ alone. Help us to receive it by faith and grace alone in your name. Father, thank you that your wrath has been abated and stopped by Jesus’ death. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Jonah 1:16 "At this the men greatly feared the LORD, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows to him."
This verse carries what appears to the conversion of these sailors. So, notice at least three things about their response.
1. They feared the one true God. This is the fourth time in the chapter that the word “fear” has been used in this chapter (verse 5 and 9-10). The word means awe and reverence in worship. The self-serving fear for their lives comes now in the awe and reverence to live out daily life.
2. They offered a sacrifice. Now, we don’t know what they may have sacrificed, but we do know that they had thrown a lot of cargo overboard.
3. They took vows. After such a supernatural event, all the sailors could do is give themselves to the God who caused it all to happen.
True conversion will manifest itself in repentance, faith, a growing reality of love toward Christ and joy in the Holy Spirit, to name a few. Like these sailors, it is a sign of true conversion when everything but the person and will of God leaves you melancholy. Rejoice if the world cannot fill you!
Our good works cannot earn our salvation but they will give evidence of it. Good works do not result in salvation, but flow from it. They are not the cause of our justification, but the evidence of it!
Were these sailors converted? It appears so! Only God can do that type of miracle. Our greatest need before conversion is the gospel and our greatest need after conversion is the gospel.
And let us pray for the conviction and conversion of our bitterest enemies, rather than their destruction.
Father, thank you for being mighty to save us, faithful to keep us, and unwavering in your love for us. Thank you that those who are truly in your name will show forth the fruit of repentance. Holy Spirit, birth and bear your fruit in us and through us. Free us to love extravagantly. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Jonah 1:17 "Now the LORD provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights."
The fish part of this story isn’t about judgment—it is about pure grace. Jonah was a Jewish prophet who was in total rebellion against God’s Word and will. Truth be told, Jonah would rather go overboard and drown than go to Nineveh and preach. But getting away from God’s sovereign plan is not all that easy.
Yet, even when God’s child has willfully and blatantly rebelled and disobeyed God, He can sovereignly and graciously track him down and turn him around. Friend, that is grace!
Notice, too, that God appoints a fish to swallow Jonah. The Hebrew word “appointed” is one that shows up four times in this book–1:17; 4:6; 7, 8. The word is “Manah” and it means to assign, to prepare, or to allot. It is a word that emphasizes God’s sovereignty.
Literally, God appointed, prepared, and assigned a fish to swallow Jonah. Instead of letting Jonah drown, God sovereignly decided to have a fish save Jonah. The text simply identifies the fish as being a “great fish.” Jonah does not give the biological classification of the fish. The text does not say it was a whale.
The point is God appointed a great fish to save Jonah and Jonah was in the stomach for three days and three nights. Now this point can immediately be connected to Scripture (Matt. 12:40; 27:63). This immediately enables us to make a biblical analogy between the saving of Jonah and the saving of sinners.
God is a great provider, even when his provision hurts (such as this fish). The fish serves Jonah for a ship to sail safe to shore. Don't be like Jonah. Pay attention to waves before you have to become large fish vomit, just to discover God's grace.
Father, thank you that even what seems to be troubling in our life is from your hand. You don't allow anything in our lives without first passing through your hands. Lord, grant me the strength and sincerity to honestly see how you are holding me fast. You do love us so! In Jesus' name. Amen.
Jonah 2:1 "From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God."
The second chapter of the book of Jonah deals with Jonah’s prayer “out of the fish’s belly” (2:1). 2. In chapter 1, we do not see Jonah praying.
*When the LORD told him to go to Nineveh, Jonah apparently did not pray (1:1, 2).
*When Jonah disobeyed God and tried “to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD,” he did not pray (1:3).
*When Jonah “went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish,” he did not think to pray.
*When “the LORD sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken,” Jonah did not pray. In fact, he was sleeping through the storm while the mariners prayed to their pagan gods (1:5).
*When the shipmaster came to Jonah, and said unto him, “What meanest thou, O sleeper? Arise, call upon thy God,” there is no indication that Jonah prayed (1:6).
Interestingly, Jonah 1:14 tells us that the heathen sailors “cried unto the LORD,” but there is no record of Jonah praying. Jonah 1:17 says, “Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” Then we are told, “Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish’s belly” (2:1). Finally, Jonah prayed. Some Christians only pray when they are in trouble.
Sometimes God has get our attention to really seek him in prayer. And we need no special carpet to pray. No special beads, no particular direction, no particular posture, and no special attention from others.
Like Jonah, you may pray for deliverance from a trial, but God may give you endurance to go through it. "Deliver us from evil" (Matthew 6:13). In this world, this prayer is always relevant. In the next world, we will never pray this.
If morning prayer is a foreign habit. Stop and pray for one minute with the Lord's Prayer as your guide. Repeat tomorrow. In striving to pray more often on every occasion, pray prior to each time you send an email, post a tweet or make a call. It's a good habit.
(A good Saturday evening habit in worship preparation is to pray for your pastors. It makes us less critical and better worshipers/listeners.)
Father, as we pray this prayer this morning, we first want to thank you that you alone hear prayer. Help us remember that prayer is not a schedule appointment with a busy executive. It's quality time with a loving Father--all by grace. Lord, let our prayer lives be so developed before the storms hit that when the storms hit we are just walking in a normal, albeit different, day. And thank you that your Son, Jesus Christ, never stops praying for us as our mediator! In Jesus' name alone we pray. Amen.
Jonah 2:2 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."
After he has gone through, there seems to be an indication here that Jonah is surprised God heard him. The repetition of the fact that “He answered me,” “You did hear my voice” indicates that Jonah was amazed God would listen to him. When the text says Jonah cried from the “depth of Sheol” it means either Jonah was dead and in Sheol or it means he considered the fish to be his abode of the dead, commonly known as Sheol, the fish was his grave.
Jonah could have given up. He could have blamed God—but he prayed. This was the beginning of a wonderful new, restored relationship. When people are in rebellion, they stop praying. Distressful situations are situations ripe for prayer.
Some people are all hung up on things like posture and place in prayer Some say, “You have to be in a holy building!” Well, Jonah’s IN A FISH! What’s more some say that when we pray, “You have to have your eyes closed – hands clasped – on your knees!” Again, Jonah’s in a fish
What’s the point? We can go to God anywhere, anytime—all by grace and the person and work of Jesus Christ in the Gospel. Posture that matters is bowing of the heart
You see, God puts Jonah into a situation that forces him to cry out like this knowing that He is going to respond to that cry He has forced! Jonah will tell us at the end of this chapter how he prayed and how God answered (2:3-6 is kind of like a parenthesis) describing his ordeal in the sea “This is how I ended up in the fish”
Finally, notice who he says was in control of all this–God’s Sovereignty. Our prayerlessness doesn't make God less sovereign, but it will sure make it feel that way. Yet, an optimistic view of the world is rooted in the belief that, because God is sovereign, ultimately, all is well.
What truths or non-truths are holding you up today?
Father, thanks for catching the cares we cast. Thank you, also, for taking the weariness we bring and giving strength in our weakness. Father, thank you that nothing we did today either diminished nor intensified your love for us. Your love is unwavering & everlasting. Be praised today! In Jesus' name. Amen.
Jonah 2:3 "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."
Jonah was a little confused in his memory. God did not cast Jonah into the sea. Rather, Jonah asked some men to cast him into the sea because he didn’t want to repent. Jonah did know the sea was controlled by God, including the currents and the waves, but he was confused about how he got into the sea. The truth is God is the one who saved Jonah, not the one who judged Jonah. Had God really judged Jonah, He would have let him drown.
There’s little doubt that, like Jonah, some minute of hardship may tempt you to doubt this God’s love when it has been placed in your life as a tool of that very same love. The message of the Bible is that God sends hardship to his people, not as an act of punishment, but as a gracious tool of rescue.. And, so, we rejoice in suffering and all manner of hardship because, unlike ease, it presses us to draw all reason for being from the God of glory.
Re-read and acquaint yourself with Hebrews 12:3-11. Put that way, we ought to be wondering if God loves us when we're *not* going through hardship. When (not if) God takes us into hardship that looks like he now hates us, the Bible calls that a test (Genesis 22). Hang on. Hang on.
Like Jonah the once-successful prophet, we don't handle success well (Deuteronomy 31:20). Hardship creates the environment where we can love God, experience God. We don't exist for our lives to go smoothly. We exist to experience God. So, if hardship leads us into more of God, then okay. Praise God.
Is this attitude to what you are facing today?
Father, when the memory of our sin is faulty or our memory about your past faithfulness to is fuzzy, remind us of your promises, presence, and person. Father, in as many ways possible, remind us today that the ONLY thing that counts is faith expressing itself it love - Gal.5:6. Father, remind us all day long: Things are not as they appear. You reign absolutely, you love irrepressibly, and that is enough. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Jonah 2:4 "Then I said, ‘I am driven away
from your sight;
yet I shall again look
upon your holy temple.’
As we have seen, Jonah couldn’t ever get away from the presence of God (nor can we!). He, apparently, initially believed that while he was in the fish, no one saw him, not even God. He believed he was banished from the sight of God in the belly of the fish.
Let us remind ourselves that this is what Jonah originally wanted. He wanted to be out from the presence of the Lord. He got on this boat because he wanted to flee from the presence of the Lord (1:3, 10). Now Jonah believed he was expelled from the sight of God. You would think he would be happy! But there is no happiness—no contentment—when one is in rebellion against God. Jonah senses God is far removed and he is miserable.
So, Jonah believed he had been expelled from God’s sight. However, he also believed he could turn back to God.
One way to understand this is to mean that Jonah was willing to go back to Palestine. That is, he was willing to go back to Jerusalem, which was where the temple was located, and make atoning sacrifices for his sin. Also, there is the implication that Jonah was looking again toward God in His holy temple in heaven. Instead of running from God, Jonah was now looking toward God (2:7). And he knew his presence was everywhere!
"Sin came into the world" (Rom. 5:12). Sin is not intrinsic to God's creation. It is invasive and parasitic. And it will be expelled.
Like Jonah, if God has restored you, go help someone else get their life back, too. Everyone needs it. A second chance, a fresh beginning.
Father, thank you that we are reminded today that Christian hope is not clouds, cupids and harps in a heaven out there somewhere. Rather, is a restored life lived fully in the presence of God. Thank you, Lord, for this grim but hopeful picture of your grace in the life of Jonah. Give me your wisdom and direction today to see those who need restoration—primarily to you, but also within the body of Christ. In Jesus’ name. Amen.