Summary: This is #2 of 4 on the book of Jonah. Pain gets our attention. I orginially wrote this in 1999. I cannot remember where I got some of my material to give proper credit.
In the movie Pinocchio a kindly woodcutter named Geppetto is swallowed by a whale named Monstro. Inside the dark, damp belly of the whale, Geppetto sits for what seems like an eternity. Then one day the whale violently coughs, and the woodcutter is expelled from his watery grave.
Sound familiar? Every Sunday-school child would recognize this retelling of the story of Jonah. But unlike the Disney movie, Jonah’s incredible adventure is not fantasy but fact.
We talked about what the liberal critics say. In chapter 2 we could debate whether a person could live in the belly of the fish for three days.
There is a documented case from 1891 of a person (James Bartley) that had a similar but shorter ordeal in a whale and survived.
We need to remember that the whole ordeal of Jonah in the fish is a miracle and if we believe that God can create the heavens and earth from nothing, He can make sure a person can do what Jonah is recorded as doing.
Last week I asked, “Why did God give us a book about the life of a prophet?”
The answer is that there are lessons that we can learn from the life of Jonah.
Last week we left Jonah being tossed overboard.
Today we will study Jonah 2, THE FISH THAT WENT MANNING!
Jonah was given a job to do by God and he decided he was going to try to run from God.
Oh how many times to we do the same or how many people do you know who are running from God?
I know a lot of people. What will it take to get them back on the right track?
Sometimes it will take something drastic to happen in their life, they may need to be swallowed by a great fish.
1:17 And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights.
1. It is good to notice that Jonah was in the stomach of the fish for three days before he decided that it was about time to turn back to his Lord.
a. It took three days of climbing stomach walls. It took seaweed constantly tripping him up and wrapping around his head. v. 5—“The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head.” It took a sense of complete failure and helplessness, before he finally said yes. 4b—"I will look again toward your holy temple.”
b. When we are on the run from God, it usually takes something drastic to get our attention.
c. For Jonah, even when it looks to the rest of us that his situation was bad; at first it still was not bad enough to bring him to his knees.
d. C. S. Lewis said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks into our conscience, but shouts in our pain.” There are times God wants to show us dreams, but cannot, because our eyes are filled with our own dreams. There are times God wants to place something in our hands, but they are full (e.g., Jesus had to open His hands to receive the nails).
e. Pain comes and shouts to us: “Hey, remember your God,” or, “Hey, that’s the wrong way.”
2. Our situations can look bad to other people, but until we realize how bad things are, we will not turn to God. After three days it was time for Jonah to turn to God.
2:1 Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the stomach of the fish, 2:2 and he said, "I called out of my distress to the Lord, And He answered me. I cried for help from the depth of Sheol; You heard my voice.
1. Trials dispel the notion that all is well.
a. Out his distress Jonah cries out to the Lord for help.
b. Sometimes we live in a dream world, unaware of where our life is going, or what we are doing to others. We may even think it doesn’t matter what we do, because there doesn’t seem to be any consequences to our sins. Pain and trials dispels that notion and gets our attention.
c. Warren Wiersbe says concerning Jonah’s prayer. “His prayer was born out of affliction, not affection. He cried out to God because he was in danger, not because he delighted in the Lord. But better that he should pray compelled by any motive than not to pray at all. It’s doubtful whether any believer always prays with pure and holy motives, for our desires and God’s directions sometimes conflict.
d. However, in spite of the fact that he prayed, Jonah still wasn’t happy with the will of God. In chapter 1, he was afraid of the will of God and rebelled against it, but now he wants God’s will simply because it’s the only way out of his dangerous plight. Like too many people today, Jonah saw the will of God as something to turn to in an emergency, not something to live by every day of one’s life.”(Wiersbe -Be Amazed, Jonah Commentary)