Summary: Sermon #2 in a series of 4 on the book of Jonah
1. In some ways you might say that this week’s sermon is the exact opposite of what we studied in the first sermon on Jonah. Last week’s title was, "Jonah Running from God," as you have probably noticed, this week’s is, "Jonah Running to God."
2. Before we go farther in our study I must acknowledge that some people find the events recorded in Jonah difficult to believe. However, when that happens I think we need to be reminded of what. . .
Thomas John Carlisle wrote, "I was so obsessed with what was going on inside the whale that I missed seeing the drama inside Jonah."
3. Too many people miss what went on inside Jonah’s story because all they can think about is how impossible it would be for a man to be swallowed by a big fish, or a whale. What you may not know is that at least some kinds of whales are large enough to swallow a person.
An average sperm whale might have a mouth 20 feet long, 15 feet high and 9 feet wide.
(Later) Star of the East
(Later) James Bartley was assumed drowned, but wasn’t found.
(Later) He was in the whale’s stomach, unconscious, but alive
(Later) He recovered & did his job again
4. Let me explain. (Cell #2) An average sperm whale might have a mouth 20 feet long, 15 feet high and 9 feet wide. Let me tell you this is a big animal. In fact, it’s about the biggest mammal on the planet. That explains how the fish or whale could swallow a person. The sperm whale feeds largely on squid. These squid are often larger then people. Whalers have sometimes found an entire squid in the stomach of a dead whale.
5. Let me be even more specific by telling you a story that happened in the late 1800’s. It happened on the ship, (Cell #1, part 2) Star of the East. In February 1891, this whaling ship spotted a large sperm whale in the vicinity of the Falkland Islands. Two boats were launched, & shortly a harpooner speared the whale. The second boat attempted to get in another harpoon, but the boat was overturned in the process and one man drowned. Another man, (Cell #2, part 3) James Bartley, disappeared & was assumed drowned. In time the whale was killed and drawn to the side of the ship where it was tied fast & the blubber removed. The following day the stomach was hoisted onto the deck. That’s where James Bartley was. (Cell #2, part 4) He was in the whale’s stomach, unconscious, but alive. (Cell #2, part 5) He recovered & did his job again.
6. We serve a God who can do more than just watch from the wings. Let’s get into this morning’s scripture passage.
1 Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the stomach of the fish,
2 and he said, "I called out of my distress to the LORD, And He answered me. I cried for help from the depth of Sheol; You heard my voice.
3 "For You had cast me into the deep, Into the heart of the seas, And the current engulfed me. All Your breakers and billows passed over me.
4 "So I said, ’I have been expelled from Your sight. Nevertheless I will look again toward Your holy temple.’
5 "Water encompassed me to the point of death. The great deep engulfed me, Weeds were wrapped around my head.
6 "I descended to the roots of the mountains. The earth with its bars was around me forever, But You have brought up my life from the pit, O LORD my God.
7 "While I was fainting away, I remembered the LORD, And my prayer came to You, Into Your holy temple.
8 "Those who regard vain idols Forsake their faithfulness,
9 But I will sacrifice to You With the voice of thanksgiving. That which I have vowed I will pay. Salvation is from the LORD."
10 Then the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah up onto the dry land. (NAS updated)
I. Jonah’s Cry to the Lord 2:1-3
1. This took place from the stomach of the fish. You may notice that much of the prayer is stated in the past tense. Which doesn’t make any sense if the prayer was taking place while Jonah was in the belly of the fish. That is where the prayer was prayed, but apparently Jonah put it in poetic form later. It is actually in the form of a psalm. He wanted this to be a prayer that he and others would remember. The lessons it contained were too valuable to forget.
2. We don’t know how long Jonah was in the fish before he prayed. Perhaps he was barely there before he began a serious prayer meeting. Others have made something of the fact that many translations speak of how he was in the belly of the fish 3 days and 3 nights and "then" began to pray. I suspect the prayer recorded here isn’t the first one he prayed. His first prayer would probably have been something like, "HELP!" Although he was encouraged by the pagan sea captain earlier to pray, there is nothing recorded in the book to indicate that he actually did pray. This is Jonah’s first recorded prayer and I might add, it’s a good one.