O the absolute joy of knowing one’s prayers reach their intended destination. This was Jonah, as his life ebbed, he remembered the Lord (v7), for his eternal salvation came from the LORD (v9), praying to the LORD who resides in His holy temple (v7), who reached out, lifting him up, out of the pit embed in the heart of the seabed (v6) resulting in praise singing whilst offering sacrifices (v7) as he honored his vows to God who rescued him (9).
Jnh 26b 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.”
Here is a life long lesson to learn … God not only saves the soul, He often saves us out of the most difficult situations … even those that we draw to ourselves through our sin and rebellion towards Him.
1) It is not coincidental that Job includes
Jnh 2:8 “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs”
in his prayer. Remember the sailors were all pagans steeped in idolatry, venerating their own localized god from their home towns. This was true of the Ninevites. The sailors however repented and prayed to and offered sacrifices to the LORD. Once their prayers were answered they experienced the grace Jonah prayed about in verse 8. They were set free from their idolatry because they came to know and experience personally a great miracle … dumping Jonah into the sea … praying … and calm returned. They no longer grasped on religiously to idol gods … because grace was now theirs. Did you see that the grace they received and enjoyed was by faith? They sacrificed to Jonah’s God, who lives in heaven and created everything that exists!
Eph 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
Millions have heard the Gospel and rejected it … many more millions have been prevented from hearing the Gospel either through it being banned in their country or through liberal teaching or it being wrongly explained. As they cling to gods, be it the gods of Communism, Socialism, Materialism, Atheism … or any other religion … they deprive their souls of eternal salvation … choosing eternal damnation instead. Grace could have been theirs but their worthless idol gods robbed them of God’s peace and love.
2) Did Jonah run away without anything achieved? Yes he was disobedient and he faced the wrath of God by being tossed into the sea, enduring everything explained in his prayer … yet … in him deserting God was not in vain because these sailors came to faith in the True God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They were now heaven bound … even though pagans and not Jews! There are times when one’s sin consequences could lead to personal salvation or that of others.
I recall how a colleague tells about his salvation. He was a top clothing designer in our country, riding the crest of the wave. One night he landed up in a hotel in Pretoria, all alone and having drunk a lot. As he lay on his bed, even contemplating suicide, he reached out, taking the Gideon Bible next to the bed and read a passage from Isaiah. God worked, convicting him of sin, saved his soul and changed him into a Bible Teacher, Evangelist and Church Planter. We don’t go out looking to sin deliberately because that would be wicked, but at times when we do rebel God uses this rebellion for His glory and the salvation of others.
3) The Sovereignty of God. Some Christians have in their minds a God who is small … not capable of doing the miraculous. Jonah’s shows us the “Almightiness” of God in action
Jnh 2:10 And the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.
(1) The command of God. Command and spoke would amount to the same thing. God spoke and creation came to be. Look at how He provided food for Israel in the desert:
Ps 78:23 Yet he gave a command to the skies above and opened the doors of the heavens; 24 he rained down manna for the people to eat, he gave them the grain of heaven.
Look at what His spoken Word does when He commands:
Ps 147:15 He sends his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly.
Pr 8:29 when he gave the sea its boundary so the waters would not overstep his command.
When you look at these three commands … for God to command a fish that He created to spew Jonah out … and out onto dry land … it would not be difficult. It really depends upon how great your God is … Jonah’s God was Almighty and Sovereign. Friend, the God of the Bible is huge! He is Omnipotent! He is Mighty and All-Powerful.
(2) We don’t know where in the Mediterranean Seas Jonah was dumped overboard. What we do know is the length of time Jonah was in the belly of the fish:
Jnh 1:17 But the LORD provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights.
All sea creatures move all the time. We see this with shoals of sardine, anchovy, snoek, sharks and whales. Each might spend time in a bay for a few days but generally they move around … they move on! Now, if God is Sovereign and Omnipotent, why could He not direct this huge fish to swim the three days and three nights to Palestine and spew Jonah out near where he was based?
(3) Jonah was saved from this terrible ordeal. Ironic … from “wet” water to “dry” land. God is the God who reigns over all and who controls everything. Nature does not work independently of God. True, there are floods, tsunamis, tornadoes, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes causing much damage including the loss of life … yet it is not our right to question God or judge God who controls nature. Often there are no answers to the “why” question. I love God’s Word for everything for life, living and eternity is found therein. Take as an example:
Dt 29:29 The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.
Our business is the Bible because the Bible contains the revealed! The secret is God’s business … so when there are “why” questions, go to this verse and say to God … I don’t understand all this, but You do. You permit things because you understand far better than we do.
Thank You Lord for knowing everything perfectly. Help me to accept Your ways which are better. Amen.