Summary: The main points of the message are (1)Sometimes A Crisis Experience Is Exactly What We Need To Get Us To Pray (2) God can hear our Prayers from anywhere (3) There Is A Cost To Disobedience In the Life Of A Believer
A Study of Book of Jonah
Sermon # 3
“Praying When Prayer Is All That Is Left!”
You may or may not remember our last lesson on Jonah in chapter 1 verse 4-16 which dealt with the “Cost and Consequences of Disobedience.” In that message we noted that 1) God Loves you too much to let you remain in disobedience, 2) a believer’s disobedience always involves others, 3) disobedience leaves us powerless before the storms and 4) you can not live a disobedient life without it showing. As we left the disobedient prophet God had said “Go,” Jonah had said, “No” and as a result he had lost his purpose, his joy and had found himself in the midst of a storm. When we left Jonah the sailor’s had finally given into to Jonah’s idea that he be thrown into the sea. The storm immediately ceased (v. 15). The sailor’s were convinced that they were throwing Jonah to his death, and Jonah had no reason to believe otherwise. But verse seventeen tells us, “Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.”
The fish was a miracle of God’s grace!
Jonah expected death. He knew that the wages of sin, of disobedience meant death – and when he is cast into the raging sea – that is what he expects. He deserves it, the justice of God, demands it. And then, the great fish gulped him down and he finds himself alive inside the fish.
A word about the fish! It just says it was a "great fish." I am not sure what kind of fish it was; it might be a dogfish, one of the shark family; it might be Jaws--I don’t know.
The critics can’t swallow the story of Jonah because they say it couldn’t happen. But it could happen. An average sperm whale may 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.
As to whether a man could survive in a whale’s stomach, he certainly could, though in circumstances of very great discomfort. There would be air to breathe, of a sort. It is needed to keep the animal afloat. But there would be great heat, about 104-108◦F. Unpleasant contact with the animal’s gastric juices might also affect the skin.
There was actually a case of man who had been swallowed by a whale and lived. It happened on the ship, 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, and 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, James Bartley, disappeared and was assumed drowned. In time the whale was killed and drawn to the side of the ship where it was tied fast and the blubber removed. The following day the stomach was hoisted onto the deck. That’s where James Bartley was. He was in the whale’s stomach, unconscious, but alive. He recovered and did his job again.[James Montgomery Boice. The Minor Prophets. Chap 32. Prayer From the Depths. Jonah 1:17-2:10 Vol
I. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1983) p. 229 ]
But regardless of what kind of “great fish” God chose to use to rescue Jonah is was a miracle. And if you can’t accept the miracle of Jonah and the great fish then there are a lot of other miracle in the Bible that are going to give you trouble. If you have trouble with Jonah then you probably will have trouble accepting the fact that the Red Sea was opened for Moses and the Israelites; the manna given to the Hebrews in the wilderness; the fire by night and the cloud by day; the water from the rock; the Jordan River parting for Joshua or the walls of Jericho coming down. However, as I have stated previously the greatest reason to believe the story of Jonah is because Jesus accepted it as true. (Matthew 12:38-41)
Tonight as we examine Jonah’s Crisis Situation I want us to see three principles.
First, Sometimes A Crisis Experience Is Exactly What We Need To Get Us To Pray. (2:1)
• Notice when He Prayed
“Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the fish’s belly.”
Abraham Lincoln once said, “I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go.” In his book “Growing Strong In The Seasons of Life” Charles Swindoll recounts the story of an airliner in 1968 bound for New York that began its descent when the pilot realized the landing gear had refused to engage. He worked the controls back and forth, trying again and again to make the gear lock down into place but had no success. He then asked the control tower for instructions as he circled the landing field. Responding to the crisis, airport personnel sprayed the runway with foam as fire trucks and other emergency vehicles moved into position. Disaster was only minutes away. The passengers, meanwhile, were told of each maneuver in that calm, cheery voice pilots manage to use at times like this. Flight attendants glided about the cabin with an air of cool reserve telling the passengers to place their heads between their knees and grab their ankles just before impact. It was one of those “I-can’t-believe-this-is-happening-to-me” experiences that led to many tears and even a few screams of despair in the cabin. The landing was only a few seconds away when suddenly the pilot announced over the intercom: We are beginning our final descent. At this moment, in accordance with International Aviation Codes established in Geneva, it is my obligation to inform you that if you believe in God you should COMMENCE PRAYER. [Charles Swindoll. Growing Strong In the Seasons of Life. (Portland: Multnomah, 1983) pp. 273-274]