Summary: We all run, we all disobey, we all fall short but in His grace God grants us a second chance just as He did Jonah. In his psalm Jonah expresses just how marvelous God's love is for all who seek his forgiveness.
I Am Jonah
Part 2: The Psalm of Jonah
Pastor Ryan Akers
Recap: Jonah/prophet- Jonah means messenger of truth/also called the reluctant prophet. Jonah 1:1-2(READ). You know when the bible says a city was wicked it was wicked. Regardless of their wickedness God wanted to give them an opportunity to repent and turn to him. So he tells Jonah to go there and be His witness. Instead Jonah says NO! Gets in a boat and travels 2000 miles in the opposite direction towards Tarshish. He runs from God. But God sends a storm that was so big it was about to destroy the boat. The captain went down and told Jonah to pray to his God hoping it would work to stop the storm.
Instead of praying Jonah tells them after casting lots and seeing jonah is the guilty one who brought the storm on these men to cast him overboard. He believed his death would calm the storm. They didn’t want to do that but in the end they felt like they had no choice. They throw him over and the last verse of chapter one says, “Now the Lord had arranged for a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was inside the fish for three days and three nights.”
This is where we pick up the story. What we are about to read is called the psalm of Jonah. This poem was obviously written after Jonah had been delivered by God through the fish because it’s written in past tense. This is a prophet who is reflecting. He’s looking back at all God taught him and describing in beautiful poetic form how he felt while being trapped and unable to save himself but also the joy he experienced in his deliverance. Some of what he says is similar to some of the Psalms of David which is fine. He is mixing his feelings and thoughts with Psalms that had already been written and using them as his own. On a side note let me say that if you have trouble finding what to say in your times of prayer then open up to Psalms and begin praying the prayers of David as your own. They are powerful prayers that do an amazing job of describing how we feel about God, tragedy, grace, worship, salvation, enemies, hardships on and on in the 21st century.
Let’s start by reading this poem all at once and then we’ll go back and break it down verse by verse. Jonah 2. If you remember last week I spoke about how you and I are just like Jonah in many ways which is why the series is called I Am Jonah. Like Jonah we run from God. We don’t obey God we sin against God. We don’t follow His will we follow our will. We don’t show grace to all people instead we limit grace to those that we deem worthy to receive it.
Someone asked me a great question last week after second service. The question was something along the lines of how do we balance the grace of God with social justice and man’s laws? Should our grace extend to the point that man should be forgiven of all crimes and not go to jail? To which my response was that we must honor the laws of the land unless that law contradicts God’s law. For example if a law was passed that Christians could no longer gather together to worship then I would willfully break that law and risk inprinsonment because that law goes against the word of God which says that believers are one body and should meet together regularly. (Acts 2, Hebrews 10) When someone commits a crime there needs to be consequences such as jail time, community service, rehab, ticket etc. Grace for them comes when we stop saying, “well they deserved it” and instead go to the jail and show them a better way through sharing the gospel of Christ with them. It’s being able to love the ones who society considers the unlovable. It’s being willing to understand anyone who seeks forgiveness from God and believes in Jesus as their savior will be forgiven and made new regardless of how they’ve lived their lives up to that point. That’s what Jonah wasn’t willing to do and that’s what we are more often than not unwilling to do as well. But that’s what God does for us and so we should do that for others.
Jonah was thrown off the boat and in the time he thinks he is going to die God delivers him through this incredible miracle. Vs. 1 Jonah’s disobedience leads to his repentance. He goes from running from God to crying out to God for deliverance. Now, there are many who get more caught up with what’s happening with the fish rather than what’s happening with Jonah. People start asking, “How could he pray in a fish?” “How could he breath? What kind of fish could swallow a man? A whale, a shark?” The reality is it doesn’t matter. Everybody wants scientific proof that this could actually happen and that this wasn’t just some parable making a point. The fact is it did happen. Jesus himself says it happened. In Matthew 12 the teachers of religious law and Pharisees wanted Jesus to prove his authority by doing a miracle. They wanted a sign. And Jesus says, “Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign; but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights. The people of Nineveh will stand up against this generation on judgement day and condemn it, for they repented of their sins at the preaching of Jonah. Now someone greater than Jonah is here—but you refuse to repent.” This statement by Christ proves that what happened to the prophet Jonah is without a doubt a true historical fact. And it shows that although Ninevah didn’t have Jesus, Moses, Abraham or the law and prophets they repented and believed in God where as the people in the new testament and people today have Jesus, Moses, the old and new testament and yet we still don’t believe.