Scripture reading – Jonah 2

Returning to our study of the Book of Jonah, we find the prophet where his disobedience had taken him… facing death “in the belly of the fish three days and three nights” (Jonah 1:17). Jonah disobeyed the LORD because he feared He would spare Nineveh from judgment if the people repented of their sins (Jonah 4:1-2). Thus, refusing to obey the LORD, he set sail on a ship going in the opposite direction from God’s will.

The LORD pursued His disobedient prophet across the sea and sent a storm against Jonah’s ship. When the sailors understood his presence was the cause of the storm, they cast him overboard, saving their lives and the ship (Jonah 1:11-12). Yet, the LORD saved His unfaithful servant from drowning and sent “a great fish to swallow up Jonah” (Jonah 1:17).

“Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God” (Jonah 2:1),

Jonah’s Appeal (Jonah 2:1-2)

Now, the heathen sailors had “cried every man unto his god” (Jonah 1:5), but to no avail. There is no record of Jonah praying until he found himself in the bowels of the great fish (Jonah 2:1). We read, “Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God” (Jonah 2:1), not out of sorrow for his sin, but because of his “affliction” (literally, his trouble, adversity, and sorrow, Jonah 2:2a).

Without the LORD’s help, Jonah knew he was a dead man, for his circumstances were like “the belly of hell” and the abode of the dead (Jonah 2:2b). Yet, we read when Jonah cried for help, the LORD heard his prayer (Jonah 2:2c).

 

Jonah’s Agony (Jonah 2:3-6a)

Humbled and broken, Jonah acknowledged the LORD had chastened him for his disobedience (Jonah 2:3). He did not blame the sailors who cast him overboard but accepted that God chastens His children like an earthly father chastens a disobedient child (Jonah 2:3; Psalm 119:67; Hebrews 12:6). Jonah was troubled, not only because of where he found himself (“in the midst of the seas”), but because his disobedience resulted in his being “cast out of [the Lord’s] sight” (Jonah 2:4a). Though he was a prisoner in a watery dungeon, he turned his focus to the LORD, saying, “I will look again toward thy holy temple” (Jonah 2:4).

Take a moment and consider what the LORD revealed to Jonah concerning the ocean and its depths. We read, “I went down [descended] to the bottoms [base] of the mountains [mountain ranges underwater]” (Jonah 2:6a). Amazing! Thousands of years before the submarines of our time, God revealed to his prophet there were mountain ranges in the sea!

the LORD spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land” (Jonah 2:10).

Jonah’s Affirmation (Jonah 2:6b-10)

Reflecting on the LORD and His faithfulness, Jonah declared, “They that observe [keep] lying [i.e., idols]vanities [meaningless; worthless] forsake [refuse] their own mercy [i.e., the mercy only be found in the LORD] (Jonah 2:8). 

Jonah began his journey supposing he might flee from the LORD, but in the belly of the great fish, he acknowledged he had forsaken God’s mercy and favor. He acknowledged that death awaits all who reject the LORD’s mercies.

From the belly of the great fish, the LORD heard Jonah’s promise to offer sacrifices as an expression of his gratitude and to give Him His due (Jonah 2:9a). By faith, he declared, “Salvation is of the LORD” (Jonah 2:9). Then, “the Lord spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land” (Jonah 2:10).

 

Closing thoughts –

Are you running from the LORD? Have your sins taken you far from Him? Remember, the LORD is one prayer away. Our God hears and answers the prayer of those who confess their sin, repent, and turn to him.

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith 

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