1. WE’RE JUST LIKE JONAH
Sermon 1 of 6 – Jonah 1:1-4
2. THE PROBLEM WITH RUNNING FROM GOD
Sermon 2 of 6 – Jonah 1:4-6
3. THE SOLUTION IS ALWAYS GOD
Sermon 3 of 6 – Jonah 1:7-17
SALVATION COMES FROM GOD ALONE
Sermon 4 of 6 – Jonah 2:1-10
1. Delivery is God’s Passion
1. When last we left Jonah, he was in the belly of the great fish. He was in a bad fix and a bad way. I found this phrase online…It was a phrase from the old west, “Nothing clears the mind like the certain knowledge that you will be shot in the morning.”
If a man knows he is going to be shot very soon, it has a way of clearing the mind of trivial details. You don’t worry about washing the car if you know you’re going to be shot at sunrise. Someone else can wash the car. You’ve got bigger things to worry about.
So it was for Jonah. But first he has to come to his senses. He had to realize that he was in trouble. He had to take note that his Mediterranean cruise is now over and the only way he is going to see the the beautiful sea is from inside a fish.
Did you see the photos this week of the giant shark that was caught off of Japan. Look at the mouth of this rare fish. Megamouth Shark they call it. I would not want to be in there for three days…neither did Jonah. He had a real change of heart inside the fish.
2. Did you ever notice how people will turn from God, call themselves atheist’s, follow Buddah or Muhammed, or just live like a pagan, until they have trouble, fears, accidents, near death experience, parents dying, then they all call on God. The staunch atheist is all of sudden a theist when their plane heads towards a crash.
II. Jonah and God. Well..
Jonah who hasn’t acknowledged or pledged to followed God has a quick change of heart inside the fish.
Even when he was admitting that he is Jewish prophet and saying he worships Yahweh to the Sailors in Jonah 1:9, he still isn’t acknowledge God or crying out to Him. That is like saying, Yeah I am Chrisitian, I go to Impact church…but yet never acknowledging God in your life…never praying, never reading His Word…never committing to serve Him.
2. But now deep inside the fish, Jonah finally calls out to God. I don’t know if it was day one, two or three. If it was me, I would have cried out to God in the first five minutes. Claustrophobic, smelly, sticky…Claustrophobia as defined is the fear of having no escape and being in closed or small spaces or rooms. It is typically classified as an anxiety disorder…5 minutes God I love you let me out!!!! That’s Steve’s cry…
OKAY…Let’s look at Jonah’s prayer from inside the fish…
1 Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from inside the fish.
2 He said, “I cried out to the Lord in my great trouble,
and he answered me.
I called to you from the land of the dead,
and Lord, you heard me!
3 You threw me into the ocean depths,
and I sank down to the heart of the sea.
The mighty waters engulfed me;
I was buried beneath your wild and stormy waves.
4 Then I said, ‘O Lord, you have driven me from your presence.
Yet I will look once more toward your holy Temple.’
5 “I sank beneath the waves,
and the waters closed over me.
Seaweed wrapped itself around my head.
6 I sank down to the very roots of the mountains.
I was imprisoned in the earth,
whose gates lock shut forever.
But you, O Lord my God,
snatched me from the jaws of death!
7 As my life was slipping away,
I remembered the Lord.
And my earnest prayer went out to you
in your holy Temple.
8 Those who worship false gods
turn their backs on all God’s mercies.
9 But I will offer sacrifices to you with songs of praise,
and I will fulfill all my vows.
For my salvation comes from the Lord alone.”
10 Then the Lord ordered the fish to spit Jonah out onto the beach.
III. Three Hard Words
Proverbs 28:13 declares that “People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.”
The Bible also says, “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” (1 John 1:9).
God desires “truth in the inward parts” (Psalm 51:6) or as Eugene Peterson puts it, “truth from the inside out.” It is very hard for most of us to come to this place of total honesty with God and with others. Most of us face a continual battle to be transparent in all our dealings, especially when we have sinned.
You can make a good case that the three hardest words to say are “I have sinned.”
God desires “truth from the inside out.”
No one wants to say that. We would rather do anything, including lying, to keep from saying those words. We’ll make excuses, we’ll rationalize, we’ll twist the facts, we’ll blame others, and we’ll say, “It’s not my fault” or “She told me to do it”or” So what? Everyone else is doing it.”
They say that every sermon should have an application so let me give you mine even before we get to our text. Maybe its a bit early. But I think it is important. Here’s what I’d like you to do. Take a Bible plus a notebook and a pen and find a quiet place. Then pray this simple prayer: “Lord, show me the truth about myself.”
Those seven words are all you need to say. Then wait for God to speak to you.
When we pray that way, the answer will begin to come from heaven. Little by little the Holy Spirit will show us our weaknesses, our faults, our mistakes, our bad attitudes, our foolish words, our pride, our arrogance, our need to be in control, our need to tell others what to do, our desire to have our own way, our anger, our bitterness, our lack of mercy, our lack of love, and our lack of compassion. I know from personal experience that if you wait long enough, the Lord will always reveal the truth to you.
“Lord, show me the truth about myself.”
It’s hard to do this. God knows that, so sometime he forces the issue. Sometimes God puts us in places where we have to face the consequences of our own bad choices.
He won’t take sin in stride.
He won’t say “Boys will be boys.”
He is passionate for holiness.
He loves us too much to let us go on in sin forever.
That’s a truth Jonah found out the hard way.
In Jonah 2 the disobedient prophet finds himself in the belly of a great fish. We don’t know what sort of fish it was. We do know that the Lord appointed the fish to catch and swallow Jonah alive. It was a divine miracle that the fish appeared at just the right moment in just the right place, with just the right appetite to swallow Jonah but not to kill him or maim him in the process.
Can you imagine what it was like inside that fish? It’s dark, you can’t move around very much, the fish is swimming constantly, salt water washes over you, seaweed wraps around your body, and unidentified objects knock against you. One other thing. The inside of a fish really stinks. Plus it’s greasy, slippery, and the fish is trying to digest you.
Let’s go verse by verse through Jonah’s Prayer. Maybe it will help us get out of trouble.
Jonah 2:1 says, “Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from inside the fish.” While he is inside the fish, he composes a beautiful prayer that takes the form of a psalm.
First, he cries to God for help. He said, “I cried out to the Lord in my great trouble, and he answered me. I called to you from the land of the dead, and Lord, you heard me!”(v. 2). No boasting here. He knows that if God doesn’t save him, he will die. He knows he will never get out of the great fish alive.
Second, he confesses that God put him where he is. “You threw me into the ocean depths, and I sank down to the heart of the sea.The mighty waters engulfed me; I was buried beneath your wild and stormy waves.” (v. 3).
Notice that Jonah doesn’t blame the sailors for throwing him into the deep nor does he blame the storm or the great fish. Jonah sees clearly that behind the ship and the storm and the casting of lots and the raging sea and the great fish, behind all of it stands the Lord of the universe. Jonah bows before God and says, “I’m here because you put me here.” It is a great advance spiritually to stop blaming others for your problems. Jonah knows he must answer to the Lord alone.
Third, he feels like he is going to die in the great fish. “I sank beneath the waves, and the waters closed over me. Seaweed wrapped itself around my head.” (v. 5). There’s no way out unless the Lord brings him out.
Apart from God, there’s nothing to be done about it.
Fourth, he remembers the Lord is his only hope. “As my life was slipping away, I remembered the Lord.” (v. 7).
Finally Jonah is acting like a true believer. After all the turning away, after all the disobedience, after all the directional issues, after all the self-centered living,
God has Jonah’s undivided attention.
God will do whatever it takes to bring us to the place where we remember him.
He’ll stop at nothing. That includes calamity, sickness, loss, repeated failure and heartbreak.
Whatever it takes to get us on our knees is good for our spiritual growth. Jonah is saying, “Lord, I’ve been disobeying for a long time, and now at last you’ve got my full attention.”
Whatever it takes to get us on our knees is good for our spiritual growth.
Fifth, he vows to serve the Lord. “But I will offer sacrifices to you with songs of praise, and I will fulfill all my vows.” (v. 9a)
Jonah vows to serve the Lord. You can see the spiritual progress he’s making in this psalm:
First, he cries to God for help
Second, he acknowledges that God put him where he is
Third, he thinks he’s going to die.
Fourth, he finally remembers the Lord.
Then and only then does he vow to serve the Lord.
Sixth, he puts his trust in God Alone. “For my salvation comes from the Lord alone” (v. 9b)
Salvation starts with God and it ends with God. Some of us struggle a lifetime to learn that. Most of us have learn it over and over again. Some people never learn it at all.
But there is no salvation, no deliverance, and no getting better until we realize that if God doesn’t save us, we will never be saved.
That’s the advantage of being in the belly of a great fish. It clears the mind so you can think about what matters most. Most of us would probably improve spiritually if we spent a few days in a great fish, or at least someplace without TV, radio, iPhone or the Internet. In the terrifying darkness inside the fish, Jonah realized the folly of fighting against God. As the wise man said, your arms are too short to box with God. He’s going to win every time…Salvation starts with God and it ends with God.
V. What We Know So Far…we have covered two full chapters of Jonah these past 4 weeks.
Although he was a prophet, it had been a long time since he had talked honestly with God.
But God knows how to speak to us. And he certainly knows how to get our attention.
It is better to be in the fish and talking to God than on dry land boasting about our big plans.
2. God had to stop Jonah in his tracks in order to get his attention.
Often our greatest problem is slowing down enough to hear God’s voice.
3. God delights to deliver his people from impossible situations.
“Then the Lord ordered the fish to spit Jonah out onto the beach.” (v. 10)
– The Famine Always Comes (Luke 15)
I want to remind of a parable we mentioned in Week 2. Jesus told a prodigal son parable (Luke 15:11-31) that fits with the story of Jonah. A young man came to his father and said, “Give me my share of the inheritance.” So the father did, and the young man took the money, left his family, and journeyed into the far country where he spent his money on wild living. One translation calls it “riotous living.” He spent it all on wine, women and song. It all worked out until the famine came.
By the way, you can mark it down. The famine always comes sooner or later. You can have your fun and spend your money and live any way you like. You can throw off all restraint. But the famine comes eventually.
– The Truth is Always Found Out (2 Samuel 12)
We talked previous in the series about King David and his struggle with the truth. He had lied, committed adultery, and had one of his best soldiers executed. And he thought he got away with it. He was happily living with the dead soldiers wife. But the truth is always found out. “For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all.” Luke 8:17 Nathaniel the prophet confronted the King and David’s life was never the same. Truth wins every time!
– The Gate is Always Open (John 10)
I’ve got some good news. The lights are on in the Father’s house, and the door is always open. The Father stands waiting for his prodigal sons and daughters to come back home. And he doesn’t say, “Clean yourself up first.”
Jesus says to us, 9 Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved.They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. 10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. John 10:9-10
He doesn’t say, “Prove that you are worthy,” because no one is worthy of the Father’s love. He just says, “If you are tired of living in the far country, if you’re tired of living in a fish, if you’re ready to come home, the gate is always open to you.”
What’s the hardest part about coming home? It’s that first step. Oh, how hard it is to take that first step back home to God.
4. Jonah is a Forerunner to Jesus
They don’t understand that Jesus has paved the way home in his own blood. His death is so great and his resurrection so complete that nothing can be added to the value of what Christ did for us 2000 years ago. That’s why when Jesus himself spoke about this, he called his own resurrection the “sign of the prophet Jonah” (Matthew 12:39-40). As Jonah was in the belly of the great fish, even so Jesus was in the heart of the earth. As Jonah came out of the fish, even so Jesus came out of the grave.
The story of Jonah Points us to Jesus. The story of Jonah points us to Jesus, and the story of Jesus tells us how far God will go in behalf of guilty sinners. He sent his Son to the lowest place on earth, to the bloody cross of Calvary, the emblem of suffering and shame. And out of that shame he fashioned our salvation.
Sometimes we sing “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.” I wonder if we shouldn’t change just one word to get the full impact of this story:
Outrageous grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind but now I see.
The grace of God is not just amazing. It’s outrageous! It welcomes the worst sinners into the courts of heaven. It makes a way for even super-religious people to be forgiven of all their sins. And for the rebel who today languishes in the far country, feeling alone and forgotten, God’s grace reaches out and says, “Jesus has paid the price. When you are ready, you can come home to God.”
PRAYER: Father, we thank you that we don’t have to be perfect because if we did, who among us would qualify? We thank you that we don’t even have to scrape off the dirt of our own foolish mistakes. We couldn’t do that if we tried. All we have to do is turn and come home.
Lord Jesus, you are the Friend of sinners. We are so glad because you are the Friend and we are the sinners. Thank you, Lord, for this story because if Jonah can get a second chance, there’s hope for all of us.
Give us grace to come and courage to take the first step. Maybe you need to go home today, maybe you need to turn back to God. Let’s take a moment…Now with your eyes closed and your head bowed. Offer this prayer…
Confess your sins to Him He forgives!
Accept His free gift of eternal life
Repent Turn a new way, a way towards the Lord. Jesus Said I am the Way!
Engage Get going in God. Read the Word, Fellowship with His People Walk in His ways.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.