Summary: Jonah’s rebellion has brought God’s discipline. In the midst of the belly of the great fish, Jonah cries out to God and God delivers him.
(adapted from messages by Stuart Jones and Barry Cameron)
SERIES: “DISCOVER OBEDIENCE: Jonah – Not Just Another Big Fish Story”
TEXT: JONAH 1:17-2:10
TITLE: “JONAH PRAYS – GOD RESPONDS”
OPEN: A. Have you ever heard of a book entitled: The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook? It first
came out about ten years ago and there have been several adaptations and editions over the last
several years. Basically, the book outlines how to survive life’s worst-case scenarios. It tells you
how to get through the horrible situations that you might find yourself in.
It tells you what to do if you have to deliver a baby out of the back seat of a car, how to wrestle
free from an alligator, how to escape from quick sand, how to survive a shark attack, and how to
escape from a mountain lion.
This book gives you two simple steps to escape from a mountain lion. Step one is this: “Do not
run.” That’s what the book says! Now, if for some miracle you complete step one, step two is
tougher. It says this: “Try to make yourself appear bigger than you really are.” It says if you have
a coat, open the coat. If you have a shirt, open your shirt. If you have a child next to you, pick up
the child. Do everything you can to appear bigger than you are.
Most of the explanations are just that simple. This book is only 150 pages long and that’s all
you need to tell you how to survive about 40 of life’s worst-case scenarios. Just one page is
needed to tell you what to do if you jump out of a plane and your parachute doesn’t open, or if
something happens to the pilot and you have to land the plane.
Forgive me for being a bit cynical, but this book seems a little too simple. The explanations are
1. One thing I find that this book doesn’t say anything about is how to get out of the belly of a big
2. Yet, that’s exactly where Jonah finds himself in our scripture passage today.
B. Jonah’s been running from God
1. Last week, we heard God’s charge to Jonah
2. Jonah took off in the complete opposite direction
3. Jonah boarded a ship at Joppa to head to Tarshish
a. God sends a fierce storm that frightens the experienced sailors on the ship
b. They discover that Jonah is at fault
c. When they ask him what they should do, Jonah says, “Throw me overboard.”
d. The sailors first try to row for shore but discover quickly that it won’t work
e. Finally pitch Jonah overboard
C. We’re so much like Jonah
--Jonah refused to do what God asked him to do and we say to God:
1. “I have another plan.”
2. “I’ve got something else going on.”
3. “I don’t have room in my schedule.”
4. “Not now, Lord.”
-- You can’t call him, “Lord,” and then say, “Not now.”
5. Eugene Peterson, Under The Unpredictable Plant: “There are a thousand ways of being
religious without submittingChrist’s lordship, and people are practised in most of them.”
D. Jonah 1:17-2:10 – “But the LORD provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the
fish three days and three nights. From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God. He said:
‘In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me. From the depths of the grave I called
for help, and you listened to my cry. You hurled me into the deep, into the very heart of the seas,
and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me.’ I said, ‘I have been
banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple. The engulfing waters
threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. To the roots of the
mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you brought my life up from
the pit, O LORD my God. When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, LORD, and my
prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that
could be theirs. But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will
make good. Salvation comes from the LORD.’ And the LORD commanded the fish, and it
vomited Jonah onto dry land.”
E. Just remember: If you’re running from the Lord, you’re in for a whale of a mess
1. We don’t like to confess the mess, do we?
2. We probably look fine on the outside, but the turmoil going on in our insides is monstrous