Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: When God has you down you tend to look up, and if God has you down, there is a way out--his way. Faith and not pleas is the key.


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Jonah 2, Psalm 100, Hosea 2:19-20

This morning… let your mind go back to about the time of Christ in Jerusalem.

You are going into the temple to celebrate Yom Kippur—the Great Day of Atonement.

This is the day that your sins will be covered for another year.

The ritual never changes!

God gave it to Moses on Mt. Sinai.

The message never changes!

It’s always salvation by faith—a faith that leads us to change our minds… that brings repentance—and a trust in the Messiah… our Savior.

The text never changes!

It’s always the Book of Jonah.

Paul echoes the main message of Jonah when he wrote to Titus in 3:5 …not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He—God—saved us…

The hero of this book is not the fish!

It’s not Jonah!

It’s God—his love… his mercy… his determination to win the lost… and to bring them into his family.

The central message is God’s great love… and his mercy in offering salvation by FAITH—to anyone… the whosoevers… who will accept this great gift!

So far, Jonah has been going the wrong way.

A reluctant ship’s crew finally tossed him overboard!

Verse 1:17 says: Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Somewhere in this process… Jonah decided—reluctantly albeit, to talk it over with God.

Listen to Jonah’s prayer:

2:1 Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the fish’s belly.

2 And he said: "I cried out to the LORD because of my affliction, And He answered me. "Out of the belly of Sheol I cried, And You heard my voice.

This is where people start having problems believing the story—surviving after being swallowed by a giant fish.

Why? I don’t know, because it has been recorded at least twice.

First, Dr. Harry Rimmer, President of the Research Science Bureau of Los Angeles, wrote: “An English sailor was swallowed by a gigantic shark in the English Channel.

When the shark was caught forty-eight hours later, the man was unconscious but alive!

He suffered nothing more than shock.”

Again, the French scientist, M. de Parville, wrote that James Bartley fell overboard off the Falkland Islands and was lost at sea.

Two days later, his shipmates caught and butchered a whale. You guessed it; they found their missing friend alive but unconscious inside the whale.

We don’t know how long Jonah was overboard.

But we know that by time he was in the belly of the fish…he was talking to the Lord.

Vernon McGee tells a story about a friend of his who caught his finger in a crack of a log and was pulled through the blade of the saw.

Immediately he realized it would take only about forty-five seconds for him to get to the whirling saw blade.

His finger was way out in front of him, as he was dragged along the truck toward the whirling blade.

His finger hit the saw and was cut off.

But that released him, and he rolled to the side and was safe.

In those forty-five seconds, he said,

• He had prayed to the Lord.

• He accepted Christ as his Savior,

• He promised the Lord he would go into the ministry and do His will, and

• He told God a lot of other things also!

Some years later—after he had become a preacher—he said that he told the Lord more in that forty-five seconds than he has ever told Him in an hour’s prayer since then.

When you have to …

• You can say a lot …and

• You can mean a lot … quite quickly.

Anyone who has been in combat … with shells dropping … and bullets singing … knows that.

2:1 Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish’s belly,

2 And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell (out of the place of the dead) cried I, and thou heardest my voice.

We know very little about Jonah… but the language that he uses in his prayer suggests that he was fully acquainted with temple ritual.

He quotes from several Psalms and references other scriptures just as priests do in temple worship.

Jonah knew he was snatched out of the grave … and he gives a prayer of thanksgiving and a pledge to do right.

Regardless of what actually happened… it brought a prayer of psalms to Jonah’s lips.

Listen to his prayer:

3 For You cast me into the deep, Into the heart of the seas, And the floods surrounded me; All Your billows and Your waves passed over me.

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