Summary: This series will tell the story of the holy tension between God's Sovereignty and man's free will.
Jonah – The Runaway Prophet
Part Two - Restoration of God’s Man
Gages Lake Bible Church
Sunday Evening, September 26th, 2010
Pastor Daniel Darling
Intro: Welcome to part two of our four-part series on the Book of Jonah. The series is entitled, “Jonah, the Runaway Prophet.”
If you were not here last week, I highly encourage you to get the message, “The Rebellion Against God’s Call.” We went over quite a bit of background on the life of Jonah which is integral to understanding this story.
Most of us know the life of Jonah, we’ve known the story since Sunday School. But what we may not know is why Jonah rebelled against God and also the historical things that were happening in Assyria and in Nineveh that led to God’s call upon that city.
I also want to reiterate how important it is for us to see this book as more than a common fish story, but to see this is an extreme example of God’s grace. We ought to read the Scriptures, Old and New Testament and see Jesus on every page of them. This book, more than any was given to the children of Israel as a sign, Jesus says, of the Resurrection.
We left off last week with Jonah being thrown overboard by the sailors.
Tonight, we’ll focus on Jonah’s rescue. Now, in the Hebrew Bible, Jonah 1:17 is actually the beginning of chapter two and that’s how I think it should be. I would actually like to read the entire text and then we’ll dive in:
Jonah 1:17 (ESV)
17 And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
Jonah 2:1-10 (ESV)
1 Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish,
2 saying, “I called out to the Lord, out of my distress, and He answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and You heard my voice.
3 For You cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me; all Your waves and Your billows passed over me.
4 Then I said, ‘I am driven away from Your sight; yet I shall again look upon Your Holy Temple.’
5 The waters closed in over me to take my life; the deep surrounded me; weeds were wrapped about my head
6 at 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.
7 When my life was fainting away, I remembered the Lord, and my prayer came to You, into your Holy Temple.
8 Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love.
9 But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to You; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the Lord!”
10 And the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land.
Thanking God for the Fish
When we last saw Jonah, he rejected God’s call to preach to Nineveh and had instead traveled 1,000 miles the other way to Tarshish. Remember, Jonah was not a sailor, and not used to the sea. And God prepared a storm to get Jonah’s attention. But even the storm didn’t get Jonah’s attention. God had to use heathen sailors to wake Jonah. Jonah acknowledged God in the storm and asked to be thrown overboard.
I think we should pause and think for a moment here. Jonah still wasn’t repentant on that ship. He still didn’t want to obey God. He should have bowed his knee and asked them to turn the ship around. But He didn’t. He still wanted to bail on God’s call and was willing to die.
Asking to be thrown overboard was a death sentence. It was essentially suicide. Jonah would rather kill himself than to fulfill the call to go to Nineveh.
I think we need to understand the timeline here. I used to read Jonah and think that Jonah was thrown overboard and almost immediately was swallowed by a fish. And I used to read Jonah 2 as if Jonah prayed this prayer so he could get out of the fish.
But this is not the case. In fact, if you read Jonah’s prayer closely, I think what happened is that Jonah nearly drowned in the sea and that Jonah’s initial prayer to God happened while in the sea.
The Physical Danger
Jonah says in Verse One that he “called out to the Lord out of his distress and He answered me.” Jonah is praying this prayer while still in the fish and he’s talking about another time of distress that he prayed.