God's Mercy and Forgiveness: Jonah Prays

The Book of Jonah  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  28:54
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God’s Mercy and Forgiveness: Jonah Prays

Last week we learned that Jonah found himself out of the will of God and in the belly of a great fish!
Jonah was in the Biblical School of Correction and he was taking some advanced courses! We've learned about the dilemma of the disobedient. God had captured Jonah to correct Jonah.
In verse 17 of chapter 1 the Bible says that God prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. Jonah spent three days and three nights in the smelly belly of a fish.
He had some time to:
Ponder his path
Meditate on his mistakes
Contemplate his correction
Repent of his rebellion
Seek his Savior
Jonah’s despair brought a prayer to God. We studied about the place of the prayer.
Jonah was in an extremely uncomfortable classroom. He compared it to the grave.
We also studied about the purpose of the prayer. The Bible says that Jonah cried out to the Lord because of his affliction.
Jonah sought the Lord because of his affliction, not because of his affection. Jonah wanted relief from his trying circumstances.
We talked about our motives in praying. We need to make sure we pray to the Lord in the right way and for the right reasons!
I heard about this little boy who was at the altar on Sunday morning praying fervently. The pastor overheard the little boy saying over and over again, “Tokyo, Tokyo, Oh, God, Tokyo! At the end of the service the pastor said to the young boy, “Son I was very pleased to see you praying so diligently, but tell me, why did you keep saying, ‘Tokyo, Tokyo, Tokyo?” The little boy said, “Well, sir, you see I just finished taking my geography exam on Friday afternoon and I have been praying all weekend that the Lord would make Tokyo the capital of France.
We need to be careful how we pray and what we pray for as well. We have learned about the place of the prayer, the purpose of the prayer, and now we see:

Jonah’s Despair

Jonah 2:3–6 NKJV
3 For You cast me into the deep, Into the heart of the seas, And the floods surrounded me; All Your billows and Your waves passed over me. 4 Then I said, ‘I have been cast out of Your sight; Yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.’ 5 The waters surrounded me, even to my soul; The deep closed around me; Weeds were wrapped around my head. 6 I went down to the moorings of the mountains; The earth with its bars closed behind me forever; Yet You have brought up my life from the pit, O Lord, my God.

A Grim Outlook

We get a picture from the prophet of his perspective of the situation. Jonah’s outlook in this prayer was a grim and dark outlook.
Jonah mentions things in this prayer that none of us ever want to mention in prayer.
In chapter 1:15 the Bible says that the sailors picked Jonah up and threw him into the sea; but Jonah realized that it was God that threw him into the sea.
Jonah confesses here that it was God that cast him into the deep. Jonah realized God’s sovereign works in his life. Jonah knew that it was God that cast him into the deep. Jonah realized that the billows and waves were the Lord’s.
Jonah came to the depths of misery as he believed that he had been cast out of the sight of the Lord. Jonah had a stiff neck, but at this point there was beginning to be some bend in it.
H.A. Ironside wrote, “We are a long way on the road to recovery when we are ready to admit God’s righteousness in disciplining us, and when we recognize that we are under the hand of God.”
Jonah had been unwilling to go to Nineveh to preach God’s message to the Assyrians so that they too could be saved.
General Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, would often say that he wished that all his soldiers could be hung over the environs of Hell for an hour so that they, having seen the torments of the damned, might have greater zeal for the salvation of men.
God disciplines our lives to bring us back in line with His will for our lives.
A boy’s toy boat went out of reach on a pond one day and started floating away. A man on the side started throwing rocks at the boat and the boy became horrified at what might happen to his boat. But then he realized that the rocks were going over the boat and making ripples that finally pushed the boat back to shore and into the boy’s hands. Many times, when we stray away from God, it appears that he is throwing rocks at us. But He is really using the ripples to bring us back home.
Jonah thought for sure that he was going to die as he realized the earth with its bars closed behind him forever.
Jonah’s despair brought a grim outlook in this prayer. There was not only a grim outlook in this prayer but there was also:

A Glorious Outlook

Jonah 2:4 NKJV
4 Then I said, ‘I have been cast out of Your sight; Yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.’
Jonah 2:6 NKJV
6 I went down to the moorings of the mountains; The earth with its bars closed behind me forever; Yet You have brought up my life from the pit, O Lord, my God.
This prayer by Jonah could be interpreted as a statement of faith. He was praying that he would again look to the holy temple of God in Jerusalem.
*Jonah was confessing that he was down, but he was not out because God was with him.*
Warren Wiersbe writes, “Discipline is to the believer what exercise and training are to the athlete; it enables us to run the race with endurance and reach the assigned goal. How we respond to discipline determines how much benefit we receive from it.”
We’ve looked at the place, the purpose, the perspective of the prayer. In verses 7–8 we notice:

Jonah Gets Reconnected With God

Jonah 2:7–8 NKJV
7 “When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord; And my prayer went up to You, Into Your holy temple. 8 “Those who regard worthless idols Forsake their own Mercy.
This is a great encouraging word; even in the belly of the fish the disobedient child of God made connection with heaven. When we respond rightly to the discipline of God and seek God earnestly in prayer He will hear from heaven.
It took getting in the belly of the fish before the prophet responded to God.
I pray it doesn’t take you getting swallowed up by a giant fish to reconnect with God.
Jonah’s prayer came into the presence of the Lord. Thank God Jonah remembered the Lord.
Remembered: (zakar; zaw-kar ) means to remember, think of, or mention.
Jonah remembered the God of heaven in the pit of despair. He remembered that God was the One and only true God.
He remembered God’s grace,
His mercy,
His salvation;
and His commission.
Great Theological Truth: When a child of God cries out to God in prayer by faith; God hears the petition.
Sin breaks our fellowship with God, but it does not break our relationship.
Jonah had a worship service in the belly of the fish. When Jonah realized his prayer made connection with God it changed his perspective.
When we realize that our prayers make connection with God and brings forgiveness of sins then we too should have a worship service.
Psalm 32:1–2 says, “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.”
Jonah’s prayer of faith was spoken from the fish’s belly.
In verse 7b the Bible says, “and my prayer went up to You, into Your holy temple.”
Jonah’s prayer made connection with heaven! His prayer went into the temple of the Lord! His prayer came before the Lord His God.
Jonah recognized who God was; He called on the name of the Lord.

Jonah Realizes His Rebellion

Jonah 2:8 NKJV
8 “Those who regard worthless idols Forsake their own Mercy.
Jonah understood that he had forsaken his own mercy by his rebellion.
Lying Vanities: KJV: means deceptive and empty idols.
Serving false gods is worthless and vain. Jonah understood that those who place their trust and hope in worthless idols will not experience the mercy of God.
Jonah’s rebellion had become an idol to him and his attitude became a stumbling block to him and others around him.
Jonah knew firsthand that he had forsaken the Lord and that he didn’t deserve the mercy of God in his life.
Great Bible Truth: When we worship the created rather than the Creator; we forsake our own mercy.
*A Good Word: God allowed Jonah to get down in despair so that He could bring him back to the heights of repair.*
God restored Jonah to fellowship by means of the weather, the waves, the wind, and the fish!
See there, I did it again!
When we become conscious of our sin and rebellion; then we are prime candidates for God’s forgiveness and mercy to be shown in our lives.
In the first eight verses of chapter two we’ve seen that Jonah’s despair brought a prayer to God.
In verse 9 we see that Jonah’s despair:

Jonah Brings a Promise to God

Jonah 2:9 NKJV
9 But I will sacrifice to You With the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord.”
Jonah promised to:
Praise the Lord
Pay to the Lord
Lift up his voice
Carry out his vows
Give thanks to the Lord
Go and tell about the Lord
Jonah’s time of worship in the belly of the fish brought a prayer to God and also it brought a promise to God.
In the time of desperation God’s mercy brought a time of restoration to the prophet.
Jonah came to the point of surrender!
Have you? Have you come to the point of surrendering your life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ?
Great Lesson for us today: We can praise God in the tough times and in the midst of trials our lives can show forth His song of praise.
Jonah was like the Psalmist in Psalm 66:13–14, “I will go into Your house with burnt offerings; I will pay You my vows, which my lips have uttered and my mouth has spoken when I was in trouble.”
I pray it doesn’t take you being in trouble for you to surrender to the will of God.
In verse 10 we see:

God Delivers Jonah

Jonah 2:10 NKJV
10 So the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.
It has been well said, “Prayer does not get man’s will done in heaven, but it gets God’s will done on earth.”
God responds to the prophet’s prayer because Jonah turned to God in repentance and submitted himself for the Lord’s use.
Pastor Johnny Hunt has well said, “A backslidden prophet will make a fish sick.”
A backslidden Christian will make the Lord sick.
We understand that it was not the rebellious prophet that caused the fish to vomit, but it was the Word of God spoken to the fish.
Spoke: (amar; aw-mar) which means to speak, to say, tell, command, and answer.
God spoke to the fish. God told the fish to spit out the prophet. God commanded the fish to relinquish the prophet.
Jonah was fish food until God spoke to the fish.
Great Biblical Principle: The deliverance of the disobedient is by the Lord’s word and is for the Lord’s work.
God spoke to the fish that He had prepared for Jonah to set Jonah free.
God had yet another work for the fish to do.
One commentator said, “The next time you feel God has been hard on you by giving you some duty that causes you pain and brings suffering and trial, remember the directive given the fish. Many times God does give us unpleasant tasks.”
The fish vomited Jonah, ‘onto dry land.’
God made it as easy as possible for the servant of God to do the will of God.
Jonah was not vomited out of the fish’s mouth in the middle of the ocean. Jonah didn’t have to swim back to shore or risk dying in the middle of the ocean.
*The fish spit Jonah out on the dry land so that the prophet could hit the ground running.*
Jonah was vomited up on to dry land so that he could immediately head toward Nineveh.
Great Biblical Principle: When God delivers us from the fish’s belly He wants us to immediately respond to Him and His call on our life.
Have you been in God’s school of Advanced Biblical Correction?
Jonah graduated from the fish to go preach the message to the pagans.
God’s called us to deliver the Gospel to those around us. God says GO, so LET’S GO.
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