Summary: Jonah also knows about the ocean’s deep waters. But he didn’t go intentionally. And what he finds at the bottom of the ocean is not just for those who read National Geographic but for all of us. God has a massive mercy.

Today we continue a four part series entitled Jonah: The Stubborn Evangelist. Many of you know the story of Jonah, a man on the run from God. Many of us know this as an amusing story about a prophet and a “whale.” Yet, Jonah is also a man on the run from his responsibility – to share the message of God’s mercy to others. And this is what Jonah is really about – first experiencing God’s mercy and then extending God’s mercy. And it’s just this reason why Jonah shows his stubbornness. For he hates his enemies and does not want to show God’s mercy to them.

God had commanded Jonah to speak His message to Nineveh, a city that is on the edge of Mosul, Iraq today. At the very mention of the city of Nineveh, Jonah revolts from God and runs from God. Jonah’s association with this area remains well-known as there is an old Muslim mosque and cemetery on the site called the Tomb of Jonah. And all throughout this short story is one where Jonah is in flight; it’s also one where God is in pursuit. And in the end, it’s God’s pursuit that eventually extinguishes Jonah’s rebellion.

Jonah’s life is really one of a boomerang for he ends up in the very place that ran from in the beginning. For four chapters we witness Jonah’s futile flight as well as God’s persistent pursuit. Today we see the story from the bottom of the Mediterranean Ocean where Jonah has been swallowed by a fish. And it is from the vantage point of a seabed that God captures both Jonah and his attention.

Today’s Scripture

Let’s listen to his prayer together:

And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. 1 Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish, 2 saying,

“I called out to the Lord, out of my distress,

and he answered me;

out of the belly of Sheol I cried,

and you heard my voice.

3 For you cast me into the deep,

into the heart of the seas,

and the flood surrounded me;

all your waves and your billows

passed over me.

4 Then I said, ‘I am driven away

from your sight;

yet I shall again look

upon your holy temple.’

5 The waters closed in over me to take my life;

the deep surrounded me;

weeds were wrapped about my head

6 at the roots of the mountains.

I went down to the land

whose bars closed upon me forever;

yet you brought up my life from the pit,

O Lord my God.

7 When my life was fainting away,

I remembered the Lord,

and my prayer came to you,

into your holy temple.

8 Those who pay regard to vain idols

forsake their hope of steadfast love.

9 But I with the voice of thanksgiving

will sacrifice to you;

what I have vowed I will pay.

Salvation belongs to the Lord!”

10 And the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land” (Jonah 1:17-2:10).

Jonah is a book of “shocking surprises and sensational elements.” Of all the places to pray, perhaps the most unusual place is to pray from inside the intestines of a big fish. A pagan ship captain had exhorted him to pray while he was asleep at the bottom of the ship where he refused (Jonah 1:6). It was not until he was literally in the belly of a giant fish at the bottom of the ocean that he finally prayed.

The Story of Jonah: Catching Up with Last Week

The story begins by the word of the Lord coming to Jonah where God says, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me” (Jonah 1:2). Most of you remember the general outline of what happened. Jonah did not go east to Nineveh on the Tigris River. He got on a boat in Joppa bound for Tarshish (probably in Spain) – the opposite direction. God hurls a storm against the ship. When the prayers of the crew prove useless, they awaken Jonah and tell him to pray. Then they cast lots to see whose guilt brought the storm, and the lot fell to Jonah. When they asked who he was, he said, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” (Jonah 1:9). When the crew asked what might still the storm, Jonah said, “Pick me up and hurl me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you…” (Jonah 1:12). The crew threw him overboard, and the storm ceased. And Jonah sinks in the water to be swallowed by a big fish. God sends a big fish not to punish Jonah but to turn him around.

Copy Sermon to Clipboard with PRO Download Sermon with PRO
Talk about it...

Nobody has commented yet. Be the first!

Join the discussion