Summary: The incredible story of Jonah and the depth of God's grace

Grace Community Church, Winchester VA

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God’s grace can come in ways we least expect and take on forms that appear imposing, like a whale swallowing you up. Grace is often comforting but bringing you to a place of comfort may first involve a depth of difficulty in order to calm your soul. Jonah sought to flee from God, but God would not let him go. God loved Jonah, and God had a purpose for Jonah. A Divine purpose.

When Jonah tried to flee, God sent a storm. Have you ever thought of storms as instruments of mercy? We see them as tempests in life that seek to unseat our security and contentment. During the storm, Jonah came to grips with his folly, but rather than returning to the Father like the prodigal who came to his senses; Jonah abdicates his hope; he squanders the mustard seed for the sea. At his own bidding, the sailors toss Jonah overboard. It is his final escape. Life without God lacks depth, and the horizon is very short. Life with God transcends our today’s and looks to the eternal. Jonah, once a man who spoke for God, cannot see life outside of the storm.

But God’s mercy will not let Jonah go, and he will not let you go. You have a purpose. Your life has meaning. God placed you here for your today and eternity. If you are in the storm, it may be hard to see God’s mercies, but they are there. Occasionally, God’s places in the belly of a whale and that’s where we find Jonah today.

I.When We Understand Why We Need a Savior We Will See the Real Savior

Jonah was indeed in certain peril and God shows up in a peculiar way. He sends a “great fish” to swallow Jonah. Just as God commissioned Jonah to go to Nineveh, commissioned the wind and the waves to pursue him, commissioned the lots to reveal his guilt to the sailors, now he commissions a fish to swallow Jonah from the depths of the sea.

The plausibility of the fish swallowing Jonah is a non-issue. Our scientific world

The most famous answer to the liberal objections is the episode of the whaling ship Star of the East, which spotted a large sperm whale in February 1891. Harpoon boats were launched, one of which capsized with two men overboard. In time the whale was killed and drawn to the ship where it was secured, and its blubber removed. The next day its stomach was hoisted onto the deck and inside the sailor James Barley, who was unconscious but alive. After being revived, he resumed his duties aboard the ship.

The depths of God’s mercy reach us in the deepest parts of our reckless hopelessness. Jonah would not see his situation as an act of God’s mercy as he remained in the fish’s belly; just addition to his misery. But mercy was there. Our own ‘out of the frying pan and into the fire’ moments may be seen, at the time, as something that just adds to our misery. We must remember that Jonah in where he is because he went in the opposite direction. Now, through God’s mercy, he will be spared from the depths of the sea.

Did you notice that it says that God appointed the fish? The sea that Jonah saw as his salvation, was actually his destruction. We often miss the point that we need saved! Not saved from being the victim of circumstances, but saved from our own rebelliousness. Saved from running away from our Heavenly Father.

Jesus did perfectly and willingly what Jonah did unwillingly. There are times when God’s grace shows up in ways, we don’t see grace

II.God's Grace Shows Up in Ways We Do Not See or Understand

For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (Matthew 12:40).

With Jonah in the belly of a great fish, the question is, “What now?” What is God’s plan, and how will Jonah respond? It is a bit short-sighted to think that this is God’s strategy to force Jonah into submission. God’s mercy in action is hard to see when you are sitting in the belly of a fish, but ultimately, mercy is at work. The same mercy God desires to show to the Assyrians in Nineveh. The same mercy that God wants the people of Winchester to see. God doesn’t need self-righteous prophets; he needs willing and submissive hearts!

For the first time in this book, Jonah speaks to God and prays a prayer of repentance. Likely, Jonah does not even know what is going on. Instead, he is in complete darkness and discomfort. He is removed from all others and is left to reflect on his situation, his future, and his relationship with God. It is here he realizes God is with him. Though he tried to flee from God, God has not abandoned him. Sometimes we here best from God when all other distractions disappear. Listen to his words:

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