Submarine Of Grace
Text: Jonah 1:17-2:10
1. Illustration: You ever watch those shows about these submarines that go down 2 and a half miles to the wreck of the Titanic? That’s one thing that I think I could never do. To be crammed into a machine not much bigger than a telephone booth with 2 other guys, 2 miles below the surface of the water, with the incredible pressure of that water just trying to squish the vessel. Well, let’s say that you were down there, and you just couldn’t take it anymore. You were going nuts, and you said, "I have to get out of here!" Opening the hatch would be about the stupidest thing you could do. Yeah, you might get out of the sub, but you’d be crushed by the water before you got the chance to drown. The apparent captivity of the submarine actually gives you freedom. That confinement preserves your life. And it’s the exact same thing when we talk about Christian living. Living the way that God wants you to might seem restricting, but it’s sure a lot better than the alternative.
2. Jonah's submarine protected him too. It kept him from going to a watery grave. His submarine was sent by God, and was a submarine of grace.
3. Jonah's submarine was...
a. Sent by divine appointment
b. It was a help in time of need
c. It was given to him as unmerited favor
d. And it caused him to have a renewed commitment
1. Please stand as we read Jonah 1:17-2:10
Proposition: Despite the fact that we do not deserve it, and cannot earn it, God bestows His amazing grace upon us.
Transition: Jonah's submarine came by...
I. Divine Appointment (1:17).
A. Lord Had Arranged
1. Once Jonah discovered that trying to run from God was a really bad idea, he discovered that the Lord was not done with him yet.
2. As you recall, the only way to escape the entire ship being capsized in the tremendous storm, caused by Jonah's rebellion, was for the sailors to throw Jonah into the sea.
a. As soon as they did the sea became calm and they were safe.
b. However, Jonah's trouble was just beginning. The storm may have subsided but Jonah was still in the middle of the sea without a boat, an oar, or a sail. Not to mention he didn't have Wilson there to keep him company:)
c. But his drowning still was going to accomplish the mission that God had given to him.
3. So what is the Lord going to do. In v. 17 we read, "Now the LORD had arranged for a great fish to swallow Jonah..."
a. The word translated "prepared" means "special assignment," or "ordain."
b. This word is used by all non-human agents provided by God to bring Jonah back to his calling.
c. Furthermore, the fish is evidence of God's incredible mercy and grace. Jonah had rebelled against God's call, and God had to go to extraordinary measures to get Jonah's attention.
d. Now He goes to extraordinary measures to save Jonah from himself.
e. It just goes to show us the lengths to which the Lord will go to extend His love and forgiveness to us even when we are rebelling against Him (Bruckner, 56).
f. Yahweh mounts a special rescue operation: an enormous fish plays the astounding part of a submarine to pick up Jonah from the murky seaweed at the bottom of the ocean and transport him safely to the mainland.
g. The fish stands for the amazing grace of Yahweh, which came down to where he was and lifted him to new life.
h. The Lord of the sea is Lord also of its creatures, and his providential control extends over both.
i. Contrary to all expectation Jonah does not die. He is spared the due reward of his sins (Allen, NICOT).
4. The remainder of the verse shows us the extent to which this divine appointment transcends human reason. It says, "And Jonah was inside the fish for three days and three nights."
a. Once you consider what is going on here you what an incredible miracle is taking place.
b. First, fish don't usually swallow people hole. While the text doesn't tell us what kind of a fish it is, although most of us have heard all our lives that is a whale, but it would have to have been large enough to swallow a man and most certainly would have had teeth.
c. Second, if a person were swallowed by a fish death would have been inevitable. Whether it was the lack of oxygen or the gases in the fish's stomach death would have eventually overtaken Jonah.
d. Yet Jonah survives alive and well after three days in the fish's stomach (Bruckner, 56).
e. When Jonah needed the Lord He showed up by sending a fish to taken him where he needed to go.
B. Just the Right Time
1. Illustration: When we lived in Arkansas, a winter storm had blown into the area and left our curvy mountain roads covered in snow and ice. That night Tina was on her way home from work and as she went around a curve in the road her car slide off the side of the road. She was headed over the side of the mountain and would have tumbled into the ravine below accept from the trunk of a small tree kept her from going any further. Then a family came along behind her, and their two teenage boys formed a human chain and rescued Tina from the car. I know in my heart that the little tree and the two boys were divinely appointed to be there to rescue my lovely wife from certain death.
2. The Lord is always there at just the right time to rescue us.
a. Romans 5:6 (NLT)
When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.
b. At the time when we are at our weakest, He is there.
c. At the time when we are without hope, He is there.
d. At the time when we have nowhere else to turn, He is there.
e. Our God may not always be there when we call Him, but He will be there just in time!
3. The Lord will be there to help us even in the midst of our rebellion.
a. Romans 5:8 (NLT)
But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.
b. He isn't there to help just when we have it all together.
c. He isn't there to help us just when we are in right relationship with Him.
d. He is there before we repent.
e. He is there even while we are sinning.
f. Calling us to turn to Him and repent, and keeping us from the point of no return.
g. He will never leave us or forsake us, but He will always be there just in time!
Transition: Jonah's submarine was the Lord's...
II. Help In Time of Need (1-3).
A. He Answered Me
1. Jonah is now in the belly of the great fish.
a. He doesn't have an iPad or a Nook.
b. He doesn't have a smart phone or a lap top, and so Facebook and Twitter where out of the question.
c. He doesn't even have a deck of cards, which is proof that Jonah must have been Pentecostal.
2. He has nowhere to go and nothing to do, and so God now has his undivided attention. So "Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from inside the fish."
a. The incredible context of this prayer of Jonah's is the fact that he is praying while in the belly of the fish.
b. One might not think that inside the belly of a fish is the ideal place for praise and worship, but Jonah realizes how fortunate he is to still be alive and he shows his gratitude for God's mercy and forgiveness.
c. Although the sailors had implored him to pray to his God during the storm, at which time he refused, he now realizes he is a very blessed man.
d. The fact that he prays this prayer before he is on dry land is evidence of his repentance and change of heart (Bruckner, NIV Application Commentary: Jonah, 77-78).
e. He was as good as dead before Yahweh graciously answered his appeal.
f. He had no claim upon God; for he acknowledges that his very plight was the result of Yahweh's own action, divine punishment for his sin.
3. As Jonah prays he says, “I cried out to the LORD in my great trouble, and he answered me. I called to you from the land of the dead, and LORD, you heard me!"
a. Jonah expresses the reasons for his gratitude with the phrases "great trouble," and "land of the dead."
b. Jonah was literally drowning in the sea and shows the desperation of his condition.
c. Also notice the difference in the syntax of the two expressions. The first one he refers to the Lord in the third person "the Lord," and the second one is a more personal second person "you."
d. This indicates that Jonah who once was far away from the Lord is now brought back to a place of closeness (Bruckner, 80).
e. He knows that God has heard him even in the midst of his rebellion.
4. Then Jonah says, "You threw me into the ocean depths, and I sank down to the heart of the sea. The mighty waters engulfed me; I was buried beneath your wild and stormy waves."
a. Here Jonah expresses the fact that the sailors were merely acting as God's ambassador's to achieve God's will for Jonah.
b. He expresses that it was Yahweh who threw him into the sea.
c. We should also take notice that Jonah refers to the mighty water and storm sea as "your wild and stormy sea" indicating his realization that they were of Yahweh's doing (Bruckner, 81).
d. He realizes that God gave him what he didn't deserve, and didn't give him what he did deserve.
B. Ever Present Help
1. Illustration: I need You Jesus to come to my rescue
Where else can I go? There's no other Name by which I am saved
Capture me with grace. I will follow You.
2. The Lord has made a way to find help when we need it.
a. Hebrews 4:16 (NLT)
So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.
b. God has given us the privilege of coming to him in prayer.
c. We can come to him no matter the time.
d. We can come to him no matter the circumstances.
e. We can come to him no matter what we have done.
f. When we do we will find help, mercy, and grace in our time of need.
3. Prayer is the solution to the all the stress of life.
a. Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
b. Stop worrying and pray!
c. Stop getting stressed out and pray!
d. Stop losing your temper and pray!
e. Stop fretting over what you don't have and thank God for what you do!
Transition: Jonah's submarine was the Lord giving him...
III. Unmerited Favor (4-7).
A. But You, O Lord
1. This next section expresses Jonah's hope and reception of the Lord's grace.
2. Jonah's prayer continues with, "Then I said, ‘O LORD, you have driven me from your presence. Yet I will look once more toward your holy Temple.’"
a. Jonah now quotes himself so that we cannot miss the point of his prayer.
b. It is the first indication that Jonah regrets his actions in running from the Lord and misses the closeness of his relationship with the Lord (Bruckner, 81).
c. Jonah can voice his despair as the prelude to an expression of confidence, for now he is safe.
d. He has the sure prospect of renewed fellowship with God in the sanctuary. This is a new Jonah.
e. He is soon to demonstrate a willing spirit by accepting the commission he formerly had rejected (Allen, NICOT).
3. Then Jonah prays, “I sank beneath the waves, and the waters closed over me. Seaweed wrapped itself around my head. 6 I sank down to the very roots of the mountains. I was imprisoned in the earth, whose gates lock shut forever. But you, O LORD my God, snatched me from the jaws of death!"
a. He begins by dwelling again on the greatness of the past peril in order to enhance the magnitude of his present salvation and of his saving God.
b. So he goes back to the moment when he was thrown overboard and his head sank beneath the waves, to be entangled among the marine growth at the bottom of the ocean, down at the very roots of the mountains (Allen, NICOT).
c. The word translated "imprisoned" is actually the word "bars," as in the NIV.
d. The word has differing meanings in both English and Hebrew. One definition can mean bars as in a prison cell, or it can mean a bar as in a sand bar.
e. Both meanings are relevant to our context. Jonah is expressing his realization that he was about to be imprisoned forever is a grave of sand (Bruckner, 82).
4. But then Jonah says, "As my life was slipping away, I remembered the LORD. And my earnest prayer went out to you in your holy Temple."
a. He found himself at death's door. The gates of hell prevailed against him, clanging shut with a terrible finality—or so it seemed.
b. He had reached the land of no return: what awaited him but inescapable death?
c. But God has wrought a miracle. Up from the virtual grave Jonah was brought by his God, a phrase that expresses a new sense of reliance.
d. As a prophet he has a special relationship with God, which he had spurned.
e. Now the prodigal returns, drawn closer to him than ever before by the cords of redemptive love.
f. The phrase "I remembered the Lord," means more than just calling to mind. In the OT it has serious theological significance.
g. Deuteronomy 8:18 (NLT)
Remember the LORD your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful, in order to fulfill the covenant he confirmed to your ancestors with an oath.
h. Remembering the Lord was Israel's foremost responsibility, but Jonah did not remember the Lord until his life was almost over (Bruckner, 83).
B. Amazing Grace
1. Illustration: It was Jerry Bridges who said, "Our worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God’s grace. And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God’s grace."
2. We are all in need of God's grace.
a. Ephesians 2:4-5 (NLT)
But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)
b. Like Jonah we have all run from God when we should have run to Him.
c. Like Jonah when God told us to go one way we went the opposite.
d. Like Jonah we deserved the just punishment of our sin.
e. But, like Jonah, God in His mercy and forgiveness gave us His amazing grace!
3. Just when you think you can't take anymore God's grace comes through.
a. 2 Corinthians 1:8-10 (NLT)
...We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. 9 In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. 10 And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us.
b. When the weight of our problems seems like it will crush us.
c. When the cares of this world seem to press in against us on all sides.
d. When we think we can't take anymore.
e. That's when the grace of God comes, dusts us off, and takes us from the depths of despair to the glories of heaven.
Transition: It is because of God's grace that Jonah has...
IV. Renewed Commitment (8-10).
A. I Will Fulfill My Vows
1. Jonah now recommits himself to serving the Lord wholeheartedly.
2. First he says, "Those who worship false gods turn their backs on all God’s mercies."
a. To accentuate the wholeheartedness of his devotion to Yahweh and his awareness of indebtedness to God's grace, the Jonah prefaces his renewed commitment with a reference to idolaters.
b. To ally oneself with idols is folly, for they can give no help. Other gods are contemptuously dismissed as useless idols, worthless nonentities.
c. In its original setting this section of the prayer envisions the Israelites who betrayed the covenant by resorting to the worship of other gods.
d. Cutting themselves off from Yahweh's aid, they only "multiply their sorrows" (Ps. 16:4).
e. His mercies, the loyal love that rushes to the aid of his own at their first cry, in the psalm's present context not only glances back to Jonah's deliverance but hints at that of the sailors who abandoned their own gods and relied upon Yahweh (Allen, NICOT).
f. The phrase "all of God's mercies" is a translation of the Hebrew word hesed, which is a reference to God's covenant love.
g. We might think of it in terms of God's grace, which is God's love in spite of our worthiness but on account of God's promise.
3. In contrast to those in v. 8, Jonah says, "But I will offer sacrifices to you with songs of praise, and I will fulfill all my vows. For my salvation comes from the LORD alone.”
a. Here Jonah is expressing returning to the Lord and serving him as he did before his rebellion.
b. The thanksgiving sacrifice in Israel was a celebration and meal in which people gave public testimony to Yahweh's act of deliverance in their lives.
c. Jonah then expresses his renewed commitment to keep his promise to do the Lord's will, because he realizes that he owes his very life to grace of God (Bruckner, 84).
d. This is the climax of the prayer. Jonah is now supremely a saved man who has tasted the grace of Yahweh, and who has been delivered from the just reward of his disobedience.
e. It is in this radically new role that he is soon to be addressed by Yahweh again (Allen, NICOT).
4. Now that Jonah has come to his senses, v.10 says, "Then the LORD ordered the fish to spit Jonah out onto the beach."
a. The chapter ends with the Lord directing the fish to spit Jonah out on the beach. Notice how when God directs non-human creation they obey with out question or hesitation.
b. This is ironic considering all of this could have been avoided had Jonah obeyed the Lord in the first place.
c. We question, doubt, and disobey, but the rest of creation merely says, "yes, Lord" (Bruckner, 85).
d. The Lord is giving Jonah a second chance to get it right.
B. Second Chances
1. Illustration: 30% of an average person’s anxiety is focused on things about the past that can’t be changed. If we were honest with ourselves, we all would say that there is something in our past that we regret doing and wished we could yell "Do-Over" and find ourselves with a second chance.
2. The truth of the matter is we all need a second chance.
a. Romans 3:23 (NLT)
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.
b. None of us is guiltless.
c. We all have issues in our lives that need work.
d. We have all made mistakes, sinned, and turned our back on God.
e. We are all in need of a second chance.
3. Fortunately, we serve the God of the second chance.
a. Romans 3:24 (NLT)
Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.
b. We get a second chance to get it right.
c. We get a second chance to serve God.
d. We get a second chance to obey God.
e. We get a second chance regardless of the severity of our rebellion.
Transition: Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I'm found. Once was blind but now I see.
1. Jonah's submarine was a submarine of God's grace.
2. Jonah's submarine was...
a. Sent by divine appointment
b. Help in time of need
c. God's unmerited favor
d. Renewed Jonah's commitment and gave him a second chance.
3. Do you need a submarine of grace?
a. Do you need help?
b. Do you need unmerited favor?
c. Do you need a second chance?
4. Let's all take a ride on a submarine of grace.