Jonah 2:5 "The waters closed in over me to take my life;
the deep surrounded me; weeds were wrapped about my head."
Jonah truly thought he was going to drown and thought he was dead. The words here are very descriptive. The picture is of water overwhelming him, coupled with the food already eaten by the large fish. At the time, death seemed imminent.
Even though I am still a young man, I'm having new thoughts like, "I wonder how I'll die?" I only hope my death is meaningful, not comfortable. Yet, when it comes time to die, no matter what our physical circumstances, I guarantee our thoughts will be toward God—and that is exactly where our thoughts should be.
For the Christian, the just Judge says I'm blameless and my God delightfully adopted me as a son. Both of these truths are shocking! It is overwhelming! Even when we are in a situation like Jonah, Romans 8:38-39 reminds us:
“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Like Jonah, don't be burdened by God's call. This God knows you can't do it on your own. That’s why he gives you the grace you need to desire and do his will. Remember, the criteria for coming to Jesus is weariness. Come overwhelmed with life. Come with your wandering mind. Come messy. Jesus can handle you and your situation.
Father, may we be overwhelmed by your steadfast love today that we might be underwhelmed by difficulties and challenges. When Jonah thought his life was gone for disobedience, you reminded him that you were not done with him yet. Lord, you know our days and hours. You know the number of our days. As we move from second to second, moment to moment, and day to day, may we be ever mindful of your watch care over all that faces me. You have won the victory in the Gospel—what else can befall me that you can’t handle? In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Jonah 2:6At the roots of the mountains.
I went down to the land
whose bars closed upon me forever;
yet you brought up my life from the pit,
O Lord my God.
Corrie Ten Boom, one of the most-famed Holocaust survivors, wrote: "There is no pit so deep that Christ is not deeper still."
Like Ten Boom, it is interesting that initially Jonah thought God had abandoned him (2:4), but he came to realize that it was God who saved him. How important is it to hear the word of God? "If you are silent to me I become like those who go down to the pit" (Ps. 28:1). And again Psalm 139:8b. There is no pit so deep that Christ ... is not down in the bottom with you.
“I called on your name, O LORD, from the depths of the pit; you heard my plea . . . you have redeemed my life.” Lamentations 3:55-58
“I waited patiently for the Lord; he heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit.“ Psalm 40:1
A Christian’s pattern: Pit. Patience. Cry. Rescue.
As the old hymn says: "Jesus sought me when a stranger, Wandering from the fold of God; He, to rescue me from danger, Interposed His precious blood.” Friend, do not rescue God from his sovereignty and cut off your comfort by making God "allow" instead of "send" and "ordain." God's promises rescue us from the fear of death.
What are you facing today that has such a tight grip that you think there is no rescue? God wisely packaged progress in the form of stumbling (Romans 9:33). Jesus is your worst disaster and your only rescue. You can trust him today—come hell or high water. Truly!
Father, you knew darkness that I might know light. You were stripped of glory that I might behold. Your Son was crushed so that you might call me your own. How deep is your love and how high is your mercy and grace! Our hearts overflow with praise--what else can we say? You can save me from anything. And you have done that in Christ! I trust my day and future to you. You are the only worthy one, Lord. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Jonah 2:7 "When my life was fainting away,
I remembered the Lord,
and my prayer came to you,
into your holy temple."
What did Jonah discover here? When his life was ebbing away—or so he thought—he remembered the Lord. And not only did he remember the Lord, he called out to the Lord. And not only did he called out to the Lord, the Lord heard his prayer. Simply amazing!
Secret prayer is not a "help" to the Christian life—it is essential to the Christian life. Keep telling yourself: “The Word and Prayer... The Word and Prayer...” You see, we need to be a people that pray out of habit and not a people that just pray in crisis. Pray that our words and lives help to confirm the message of Jesus, rather than confuse it.
"May he send you help from the sanctuary" (Psalm 20:2” This prayer, which is very similar to Jonah’s in today’s verse, has been answered for my soul a thousand times. No. 10,000.
And remember what Peter prayed as he sank? "Lord, help me" (Matthew 15:25). A profound and eloquent prayer, which He answered. If this is true, why don’t we pray more? If we do not pray, it is because we have little desire for God to help or little faith that he can.
Did you neglect prayer today? Stop where you are and lift up your soul to God. Acknowledge your need, commit to His will, and ask for His help. May the Lord help us all be more devoted to prayer!
Father, we forsake our agendas for our day today, and pray you will help us give you the worship of which you alone are worthy. Quicken our hearts to pray for people, places, and stories at your bidding today. Help us discern and respond to your promptings, not in some secret decoder way, but in a way consistent with your Gospel. And, Lord, thank you that you answer prayer! While some pray day and night with the hope that they might be heard, through Christ, we are always heard! Mind-blowing, Father—and eternity-changing! Thank you, Jesus. In your name. Amen.
Jonah 2:8 "Those who pay regard to vain idols
forsake their hope of steadfast love."
All our idols have one thing in common, when we look at them in the right light we can see reflections of ourselves. For Jonah, his idol was one of self-preservation not self-giving, of self-pleasing not self-denying, and of self-exalting not self-humbling.
We would do well to spend more time identifying Jesus than identifying your idols. To see Jesus is to see everything else more clearly. Again, let's not be idle about idols today. We must see the God-man, Jesus Christ, and watch them topple. Be ruthless with idols by riveting our gaze on Jesus.
This is, truly, where “steadfast love” comes into play. At some point, we eventually realize that our whole lives were always meant to tell just one story: the steadfast love of the Lord endures forever. It took Jonah quite a story to get there – but he is now there! The psalmist said, "Your steadfast love is better than life" (Psalm 63:3). Better than my next breath. Far better. And again: “The earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.“ Psalm 33:5 How many rising suns on idolatrous nations? How many billion breaths?
"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases" (Lamentations 3:22). You and I (and Jonah!) are living proof of that. His rugged love overcomes every reason we give him to stop loving us. Unstoppable, unrelenting, unwavering omnipotent love. What could be better?
Father, thank you for your steadfast love and your daily mercies; your inexhaustible patience and your irrepressible kindness. All day long, your grace will be sufficient, your love will be steadfast, your mercies will not run out, and your faithfulness will be evident. And thank you that has never changed—from Jonah’s time until now. Father, as this day goes on, we praise you that your grace will be sufficient, your love will be steadfast and your rule will be unimpeded. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Jonah 2:9 "But I with the voice of thanksgiving
will sacrifice to you;
what I have vowed I will pay.
Salvation belongs to the Lord!”
Notice the theology of Jonah; it is finally right: “Salvation is from the Lord!” One of the great lessons of dark trials and circumstances is that it causes us to stand helpless and hopeless, in and of ourselves, and rely totally upon the Lord. As we pointed out in a previous study, this chapter is saturated with statements that come from the book of Psalms. What we learn is that it was Jonah’s remembrance of Scriptures that gave him stability in the darkest hour of his life. God’s Word is a comfort no matter how dark or depressing the hour.
Biblical theology simplified: Salvation is of the Lord. Thankfully, I discovered that being my own savior was above my pay grade. Salvation is of the Lord—all of it. We didn't become Christians by promising to do better; but by trusting Jesus, who did perfectly. That’s good news: Salvation, all of it, really is "of the Lord". None of us is co-redeemer. Salvation is of the Lord... all of it - the beginning, middle, and ending... the whole holy enchilada
In the epic drama of salvation by faith, God is the sole hero, and upon Him alone is praise lavished. Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord. Salvation is not won by any valiant deed or noble pilgrimage on the part of man, but by calling upon the Name of the Lord in faith.
Thus, the joy of the Lord is our strength. The grace of God is our salvation. The faithfulness of God is our hope. Rich are we! Bask in this today—even if you aren’t the belly of a large fish!
Father, salvation is from you and you alone. How that cuts down all pride and self-exalting. How that bemoans any suggestion that salvation is anything in and of ourselves or in our potential. Oh, Lord, how salvation of you reminds us that we are nothing without you. Literally, every atom and fiber of our being must be redeemed by you. How far we have fallen outside of Christ—but how much mercy and grace you have lifted us up with inside your name. We thank you in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Jonah 2:10 "And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land."
Unlike Jonah, when God gave the fish the command it immediately obeyed. Or, when God commands the tide to go only so far, it obeys immediately. When God tells the stars to shine here and shine there, they obey. Everything in all creation obeys God at his beck, call, and command.
Yet, isn’t it ironic that when God tell us to obey, we retort back, “Who are you?” We don't have to disobey to get our Father's attention. And we are not robots. We really do obey (or disobey). And our obedience glorifies him.. Faith says, "Even if others disobey God's Word, I can't allow myself to cave too. I will wait on Him, come what may." No panic.
I don’t know what trial or trouble you are in right now. I don’t know what seems to be causing you to sink, but God can get you out of it. If your dilemma is due to your rebellion, why not come to your senses and confess it to God and cry for His help? He will deliver you just like He did a rebellious Jonah. God desires to track down and turn around His rebellious children. Why not turn to Him tonight and the storm will stop!
Know who God is. Know who you are. Know what sin is. Know what grace does. Trust and obey.
Father, fish obey (Jonah 2:10), plants obey (Jonah 4:6), worms obey (Jonah 4:7), winds obey (Jonah 4:8), and lions obey (2 Kings 17:25). Lord, give me such a heart to obey whenever you lead in your Spirit in my life. Father, you love us today as much as you love Jesus, for you have hidden our lives in his. May this fuel our obedience. Thank you, Father, for dealing with us according to Jesus' obedience, and for rewarding us according to his righteousness.. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Jonah 3:1 "Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time:"
Here is one of the most wonderful chapters in the entire Old Testament. This chapter proves beyond any shadow of a doubt that God is not only sovereign, but He is absolutely gracious. The chapter begins with Him using a prophet who had been in total rebellion and it ends with Him saving a city that was totally wicked.
When a rebellious child of God repents, God will use that to bring many other people out of their wickedness. A repentant prophet is recommissioned as God recalls Jonah.
Notice carefully the text says the “word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time…” Here is one of the great verses of the Bible for God’s people for it clearly and plainly proves that God is the God of a second chance. Even when His people have blatantly rejected His Word and walked away from His will, if they will repent, God will give them another chance.
Jesus doesn't give us a second chance, or any chances. He comes to us in the morgue and says, "Come forth!"... and we rise. The gospel isn't about God giving us a second chance. God left nothing to chance when he gave Jesus as our substitute. God's name is Redeemer, not “ReDoer.” He gave us the Second Adam, not a second chance. Hallelujah!
Father, you are our substitute before you are our model, our life, not our life-coach, our second Adam, not our second chance. So, thank you for giving the word again to Jonah and leaving for us an encouragement when we think we have exhausted your grace. Father, living a double life is too exhausting -- especially since none of us are whole persons to begin with. Help me walk the straight and narrow. In Jesus’ name. Amen.