Jonah the Penitent
A. We left off in our last study with Jonah being swallowed by the "great fish" and that is where we will pick up our study this morning but before we do, I would like to remind you of the 3 "disciplines" we talked about last week.
1. We saw the Lord teaching Jonah "obedience". He told him to "Arise and go to Nineveh", and it really wasn't up for debate or negotiation.
2. We also saw the Lord teaching Jonah the meaning of "agape" love for people he personally hated.
3. And lastly we saw the Lord teaching Jonah to have the same attitude towards sin as He had. In other words to always take His side when it comes to sin.
a) And since these are "disciplines" of a disciple we will most likely face these same disciplines as the Lord trains us.
b) And we witnessed a wonderful move of the Lord as we saw many people come to the altar and face their own Nineveh's as the Lord was working out these things in their lives.
B. I would like to remind you that we have seen from our study that Jonah has been temporarily removed from service because of his rebellion. But we are going to see that it is indeed only temporary because Jonah gets his heart right with the Lord. He begins to see things the way the Lord does. That equals repentance.
II. JONA 1:17 (NASB) AND THE LORD APPOINTED A GREAT FISH TO SWALLOW JONAH, AND JONAH WAS IN THE STOMACH OF THE FISH THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS. 2:1 THEN JONAH PRAYED TO THE LORD HIS GOD FROM THE STOMACH OF THE FISH, 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; THOU DIDST HEAR MY VOICE. 3 "FOR THOU HADST CAST ME INTO THE DEEP, INTO THE HEART OF THE SEAS, AND THE CURRENT ENGULFED ME. ALL THY BREAKERS AND BILLOWS PASSED OVER ME. 4 "SO I SAID, 'I HAVE BEEN EXPELLED FROM THY SIGHT. NEVERTHELESS I WILL LOOK AGAIN TOWARD THY HOLY TEMPLE.' 5 "WATER ENCOMPASSED ME TO THE POINT OF DEATH. THE GREAT DEEP ENGULFED ME, WEEDS WERE WRAPPED AROUND MY HEAD. 6 "I DESCENDED TO THE ROOTS OF THE MOUNTAINS. THE EARTH WITH ITS BARS [WAS] AROUND ME FOREVER, BUT THOU HAST BROUGHT UP MY LIFE FROM THE PIT, O LORD MY GOD. 7 "WHILE I WAS FAINTING AWAY, I REMEMBERED THE LORD; AND MY PRAYER CAME TO THEE, INTO THY HOLY TEMPLE. 8 "THOSE WHO REGARD VAIN IDOLS FORSAKE THEIR FAITHFULNESS, 9 BUT I WILL SACRIFICE TO THEE WITH THE VOICE OF THANKSGIVING. THAT WHICH I HAVE VOWED I WILL PAY. SALVATION IS FROM THE LORD." 10 THEN THE LORD COMMANDED THE FISH, AND IT VOMITED JONAH UP ONTO THE DRY LAND.
A. The men onboard have tried everything from rowing harder to throwing "things" overboard, but it is not until they throw Jonah overboard that the sea calmed!
1. I think there is a lesson in this and that is that the Lord wants us not our "things".
2. It appears that Jonah will surely die, but in that "death" he is really about to find life!
a) It is not until Jonah gives his life that he finds it.
b) And the Lord chooses a very "peculiar vessel" as Jonah's classroom.
B. We do not know exactly what this "great fish" is but we do have God's word that it was "appointed" by Him.
1. For those of us that may be a bit skeptical, there are at least 2 "great fish" that would be capable of swallowing a man. They are the Balaenoptera Musculus or "sulphur-bottom whale" and the Rhinodon Typicus or "whale shark".
a) Both of these "great fish" have no teeth and feed by opening their mouths and rushing through the water at great speeds collecting whatever in their paths.
b) They then strain out the water and swallow whatever is left.
2. A sulphur-bottom whale was captured off Cape Cod in 1933 and his mouth alone was 10 to 12 feet wide. He could have easily swallowed a horse.
a) These whales have 4 to 6 compartments to their stomachs and in their head is an air storage compartment that is often 7 feet tall, 7 feet wide, and 14 feet long. ( I think our first apartment was about that big ;>) )
b) It is also fact that if one of these whales has something or "someone" in him that gives him a headache he will swim to the nearest land and "upchuck" the offender!
C. I would like to give you a few true and accurate accounts to prove that this is not only possible, but also actually happened.
1. This is taken from a book by Grace W. Kellogg with the title of "The Bible Today."
a) She tells of an article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer about a dog that was lost overboard and found 6 days later, in the head of a whale, alive and barking.
b) "French scientist M. deParville, writes of James Bartley, who in the region of the Falkland Island, was supposed to have been drowned at sea. Tow days after his disappearance, the sailors made a catch of a whale. When it was cut up, much to their surprise they found their missing friend alive but unconscious in side the whale. He revived and has been enjoying the best of health ever since his adventure."
c) "Dr. Harry Rimmer, President of the Research Science Bureau of Los Angeles writes this, In the Literary Digest we noticed an account of an English sailor who was swallowed by a gigantic Rhinodon in the English Channel. Briefly the account stated that in the attempt to harpoon one of these monstrous sharks, this sailor fell overboard, and before he could be picked up again, the shark turned and engulfed him. Forty-eight hours after the accident occurred, the fish was sighted and slain. When the shark was opened by the sailors, they were amazed to find the man unconscious but alive! He was rushed to the hospital where he was found to be suffering from shock alone and a few hours later was discharged as being physically fit.'" (J. Vernon McGee - Through The Bible - Vol. 3 Page 752-753)
(1) It is not a matter if "if" it can be done, it has been done!
(2) Granted, Jonah's stay was for one more day and night, but we also know that God was involved in this one and once again HE appointed this "great fish"!
(a) So it is possible that Jonah was alive and well inside this great fish.
(b) But there is another opinion among some scholars and that is that Jonah died in the belly of this great fish and that the Lord resurrected him.
III. JONA 2:1 (NASB) THEN JONAH PRAYED TO THE LORD HIS GOD FROM THE STOMACH OF THE FISH, 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; THOU DIDST HEAR MY VOICE.
A. I cried for help from the depth of Sheol. Sheol is another word for "the grave."
1. In other words Jonah thought he was going to die inside the belly of this great fish!
a) Jonah was convinced this fish was his tomb!
2. I might also ask, "When do you think Jonah prayed this prayer?"
a) That might be better answered by asking, "When do you think YOU would have prayed this prayer?" When you were thrown overboard, when the fish swallowed you or on the 2nd or 3rd day?
(1) If this was a casual pray after 2-3 days then perhaps Jonah was alive but we must at least consider that it could have been a prayer while "going down."
IV. JONA 2:3 (NASB) "FOR THOU HADST CAST ME INTO THE DEEP, INTO THE HEART OF THE SEAS, AND THE CURRENT ENGULFED ME. ALL THY BREAKERS AND BILLOWS PASSED OVER ME. 4 "SO I SAID, 'I HAVE BEEN EXPELLED FROM THY SIGHT. NEVERTHELESS I WILL LOOK AGAIN TOWARD THY HOLY TEMPLE.' 5 "WATER ENCOMPASSED ME TO THE POINT OF DEATH. THE GREAT DEEP ENGULFED ME, WEEDS WERE WRAPPED AROUND MY HEAD.
A. I think it is important that we understand that whatever happened here it was literal and Jonah either died or thought he was going to die!
1. Facing death has a way of making a person deal with what really matters.
2. It helps us shed our own agendas and prepare to meet the Lord.
a) At that moment it matters a great deal what He thinks and what He requires.
(1) Jonah is there!
V. JONA 2:6 (NASB) "I DESCENDED TO THE ROOTS OF THE MOUNTAINS. THE EARTH WITH ITS BARS [WAS] AROUND ME FOREVER, BUT THOU HAST BROUGHT UP MY LIFE FROM THE PIT, O LORD MY GOD. 7 "WHILE I WAS FAINTING AWAY, I REMEMBERED THE LORD; AND MY PRAYER CAME TO THEE, INTO THY HOLY TEMPLE. 8 "THOSE WHO REGARD VAIN IDOLS FORSAKE THEIR FAITHFULNESS, 9 BUT I WILL SACRIFICE TO THEE WITH THE VOICE OF THANKSGIVING. THAT WHICH I HAVE VOWED I WILL PAY. SALVATION IS FROM THE LORD."
A. Jonah's "vain idol" was himself his opinion and his desire to do his own will instead of the will of the Lord toward the Ninevites. And it had caused him to "forsake his faithfulness" to the Lord.
1. But this experience had brought about a change of heart! 9 But I will sacrifice to Thee With the voice of thanksgiving. That which I have vowed I will pay.
2. Jonah finally realized that his salvation was not his own. He had not been saved to do his own will but to do the Lord's will and he had to lose his own live to realize that!
a) Remember repentance is seeing sin the way the Lord does and getting up and turning the other direction of that which cause us to miss the mark in the first place!
b) Jonah has come to repentance!
A. Jonah 2:10 (NASB) Then the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah up onto the dry land.
1. Jonah may be covered in vomit but he is a new man!
2. Sheol is a place for the dead but Jonah is more alive now than he has ever been so the grave is no place for him!
a) But he had to die to himself to find life in the Lord!