Jonah 2:1-11 – Jonah’s Prayer

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Jonah 2:1

  1. Jesus says in Matthew 12:40, “For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish three days and three nights, so shall the Son of Man be in the bowels of the earth three days and three nights.”
    1. The difference between Jonah and Jesus, however, is that Jonah ended up there because he was disobedient, but Jesus ended up there because he was obedient to the point of death.
    1. The phrase “three days and three nights” was an expression that did not necessarily have to mean exactly 3 full days, but could just as easily mean one day plus parts of two other days.
  2. What kind of fish did Jonah devour? There are two fish in particular that are mentioned as having swallowed animals the size of humans that have also been found alive in their stomachs, and these are the sperm whale and the whale shark.
    1. However, trying to find natural explanations for all the details misses the point of this Bible. The point of the book of Jonah is that God has power over everything, not just Israel. God has power over the sea and the fish, and if he wants to, he can perform an impossible miracle, such as allowing Jonah to miraculously survive in the belly of a fish for three days.
      1. In other words, there is a small scientific possibility that this could have happened naturally, but if you stare at this, you miss the point that God has power and can do the supernatural. So you do yourself a disservice if you try to explain a miracle scientifically, because then it is automatically no longer a miracle, which in turn contradicts the point of the book; namely that God has power over everything.

Jonah 2:2

  1. What happens when you are called by God but don’t want to do God’s will?
    1. From Jonah we can learn that God has many different ways of making us want to do God’s will in the end. Jonah struggles as much as he can, but in the end he realizes that he is no match for God and bows to God’s will.
    1. I remember when I myself was called by God to be a disciple of Jesus. I was 18 years old and experienced how God called me to go to church to be baptized. I struggled for two weeks and finally had to give up because I realized that I could not say no to God. In theory I had free will and could say no, but in practice there was really no choice but to do what God wanted. At the time it was a difficult decision, but today it is the best decision of my life.

Jonah 2:3

  1. Jonah knew that God had heard his prayer even though he was still in the belly of the fish. Although Jonah’s situation is as miserable as ever, he now knows that his life will soon change. God can give us an inner peace despite an outer storm.
  2. When our lives are at their most miserable, it can be a tremendous blessing to receive confirmation from God that He has seen my situation and will save me. Even if salvation is not instantaneous, it is extremely liberating and hopeful to live in faith that the situation will soon get better. Then you can even thank God despite being in the most claustrophobic and disgusting situation any human being could ever imagine; i.e. inside the belly of a fish.

Jonah 2:4

  1. Jonah realizes that it wasn’t really the sailors who threw him into the sea, it was God. Even though Jonah tried to escape from God, he couldn’t.
  2. Jonah experiences Psalm 139 with his own eyes:
    1. 7 Where shall I go before thy Spirit, and where shall I flee before thy face? 8If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in hell, you are there. 9If I take the wings of the morning glory, if I make my dwelling in the uttermost parts of the sea,10 there also your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. 11If I say: “Let darkness fall upon me, and let light become night around me,”12 then darkness is not dark to you; night shall shine as day, and darkness be as light.” (Ps 139:7-12)

Jonah 2:5

  1. Jonah quotes several Bible verses from the Psalms when he prays (Ps 18:7, Ps 42:8, Ps 31:22). This shows us two things:
    1. The Psalter is an excellent prayer book! Sometimes it can be difficult to formulate your prayers and it’s not wrong to use the Psalter, it contains a huge register of feelings, situations and circumstances that we can all relate to.
      1. The Bible is God’s word to us, prayer is our words to God, and the Psalms are both.
    1. Jonah was well versed in the word of God. When he was at his most difficult, it was in the Bible that he found his comfort. Even if you don’t always feel a hunger for God’s word, you will definitely benefit from reading and studying the Bible regularly.
  2. Jonah’s greatest concern is not his miserable circumstances, but that he has strayed from God.

Jonah 2:10

  1. Jonah confesses that salvation is with the Lord God! But Jonah does this even though he is in a miserable situation; inside the belly of a fish. Jonah knew that his life would not end there, but God would save him.
    1. In the same way, we can confess that salvation is in the Lord Jesus, even though our situation may not be the most perfect. Even if life is difficult and miserable, we know that God will save us on the day of the Lord.
  2. It’s a bit comical that when God speaks to the fish, the fish immediately does exactly what God wants, as opposed to when God spoke to the prophet Jonah, who did exactly the opposite of what God wanted.
    1. God has control and power over the whole world; both sea and land, people and animals. But it is only humans who deliberately resist God’s will.
  3. The prophetic book of Jonah has two main purposes: (1) to show Israel and the world God’s love and care for all his creation, but also (2) to show the relationship and interaction between God and a person who has been given a mission by God.
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