Summary: Jonah depended on family and nationality as the basis of his Spirituality. His relationship does not go to the heart.
Last week we talked about free will. How Jonah was exercising his free will when he went and caught a boat going the opposite direction from where God send him. We looked over the scripture to determine Jonah’s qualifications. If he was being called for the first time as a Prophet. From the reading it seems that this was not a new job. What was new was that he is the only prophet in the OT that is being sent to people other than Israel. We also learned about the conversion of some pagan sailors. .
Here are a couple of things that I did not point out last week. While it is obvious that Jonah is being disobedient, up to the point we stopped last week we never saw him repent. The storm did not scare him. The fear of the sailors did not bother him even when the casting of lots pointed to him as the cause of all their weather problems. In fact when confronted with why was his god angry the pagans were scared to death that someone would disobey his God. Especially a prophet.
So last week we saw gentile pagans sailors the repented, prayed, and worshiped the LORD and the prophet did not. Then when asked how the LORD could be satisfied, the says throw me over board. I had to think a little on why he just did not jump over board himself. I guess I thought he was just scared. The seas are high it is obvious that he will not survive if he is in the sea. So I decided he is a wimp. Perhaps he considered it a sin to commit suicide? That is what it is right, it there is not way to survive in the sea. He is a good Jew and would never do anything sinful.
One additional idea is that for the sailors to be separated –absolutely – clearly separated from Jonah’s sin. They had to be the ones to take the punishing action. They had to throw him overboard. You will recall that they tried to avoid this action. And finally gave in and the storm stopped. And the last we heard of the Prophet Jonah was that God prepared a big fish that consumed him.
Does it bother you that we don’t have any evidence today that a fish might eat a person, and the person survives? As a kid I never worried about these details. And now as an adult the people that make movies can show me any incredible thing they want to and it will look very real.
Today, we are not going to really worry about the mystery of the fish because We don’t have an answer. I will tell you that I personally can accept it and move on with what I believe our lesson is for today.
Now I will read the 2nd chapter and you need to listen directly to Jonah’s words. Today our lesson is connected to reading Jonah’s lips. As he gives a prayer to God in his time of distress what is he really saying and not saying.
Jonah 2 Jonah’s Prayer
1 From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God. 2 He said:
"In my distress I called to the LORD ,
and he answered me.
From the depths of the grave I called for help,
and you listened to my cry.
3 You hurled me into the deep,
into the very heart of the seas,
and the currents swirled about me;
all your waves and breakers
swept over me.
4 I said, ’I have been banished
from your sight;
yet I will look again
toward your holy temple.’
5 The engulfing waters threatened me,
the deep surrounded me;
seaweed was wrapped around my head.
6 To the roots of the mountains I sank down;
the earth beneath barred me in forever.
But you brought my life up from the pit,
O LORD my God.
7 "When my life was ebbing away,
I remembered you, LORD ,
and my prayer rose to you,
to your holy temple.
8 "Those who cling to worthless idols
forfeit the grace that could be theirs.
9 But I, with a song of thanksgiving,
will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
Salvation comes from the LORD ."
10 And the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.
While Jonah was on the boat we have no hint that he actually prayed to God for the deliverance of the boat from the danger it was in. Now in this chapter he begins to pray. His prayer is full of I’s, perhaps that is normal when facing dangers. I just wonder way he does not start his prayer until he is in the water and even seems to be under the water. I guess there is better than an average chance that he did not know how to swim. But what would have been the point. Notice that Jonah, does not record any characteristics of God in the beginning f his prayer. Perhaps he is in a hurry. Later in the book he will mention what he sees as the character of God. But that will be next week.