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Jonah 2 – Jonah’s Prayer

Lay Reading Psalm 30:2-5

Pages 1437 and 916

JNH 2:1 From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God. 2 He said:  "In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me.  From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry.

JNH 2:3 You hurled me into the deep, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me;  all your waves and breakers swept over me.

JNH 2:4 I said, `I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.'

JNH 2:5 The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head.

JNH 2:6 To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever.  But you brought my life up from the pit, O LORD my God.

JNH 2:7 "When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, LORD, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple.

JNH 2:8 "Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.

JNH 2:9 But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you.  What I have vowed I will make good.

    Salvation comes from the LORD."

JNH 2:10 And the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.

Review last week – Jonah is a prophet, wrote as an act of repentance, running from God, ended off with Jonah being swallowed by a great sea creature.

Jonah 2 slows down the pace of the story.  This is a tool used by writers, and especially the Biblical writers.  When the pace slows down, the writer wants you to focus on something or catch a specific detail.  Here we see a little window into the life of Jonah in this slow down prayer.  As we dig into this I want you to identify with Jonah.  What would it have been like?  What might you have said to God if you were in the same situation?  Remember the last time you were out swimming at the lake or the pool, and everyone was jumping around, screaming and yelling?  What happened when you went under?  It gets quiet real quick doesn’t it?  The water muffles all the sounds.  So it is getting quiet and dark, and Jonah is slowly sinking down deeper and deeper down into the darkness, into the pressure of the deep water.  There is where we find Jonah today.  Sinking further into the darkness, farther away from his family and friends, down he goes.  And then Jonah cries out to the Lord from inside of the belly of the fish God sent to save him.  Jonah finally prays.  He wouldn’t pray for God to save the pagan sailors, but he does to thank God for saving him.

Verse 2  Jonah says “In my distress I called out”.  I don’t know about you, but I suspect the word distress is putting it lightly.  Jonah was sinking the bottom of the ocean – he had to be freaking out!  I know I would be, wouldn’t you?  That’s why they teach you “reach, throw, row, go” in lifeguard training.  People who are drowning or who thing they might be tend to freak out!  So what did Jonah do?  He says God rescue me.  In his distress, he called out to God.  And God was listening.  “From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry.”  God heard Jonah, Jonah thought he was going to die, but God was gracious and provided a way out that I doubt Jonah could have imagined.  Jonah says I could see the light!  The pearly white gates were near!  But God heard my cry.  Have you ever found yourself in a situation like this?  Where all that was left was to cry out to God?  Help me God!  Maybe you find yourself in this place today – so cry out to Him, God will hear you.  Even though Jonah is running from God, God is still listening.  God hasn’t abandoned Jonah.  And God hears his prayers.  And God hears our prayers.  Jonah gets a second chance.  The idea of a second chance is something we often lose sight of.  We tend to feel that sin and disobedience disqualify us from further service.  Jonah shows us how full and free God’s forgiveness really is.  God hears our prayers, and He gives us second chances.

Verse 3 “You hurled me into the deep, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me.”  Now who threw Jonah into the water last week?  The sailors.  But here Jonah is saying God threw him in.  Why is that?  It goes back to one of the primary themes of this book I talked about two weeks ago.  Jonah is clearly making the point that God is sovereign.  God is in control of this whole situation.  While it was men who threw Jonah into the sea, it was God’s plan for it to happen.  Ultimately God is in control.  And we saw last week that some great good comes from this – the pagan sailors who threw Jonah into the drink became worshippers of Yahweh, the One True God.

So the waves are crashing over Jonah, the currents are pulling his body, he is sinking down deeper into the cold heavy water.  And Jonah says in verse 4 – Even though my sin had removed me from your sight, cost me your blessing, I know that I have been rescued and will again have opportunity to worship you. 

Verse 5 and 6 – Jonah was as low as he could go.  The water had over taken him, weeds were wrapping around him, he had sunk to the bottom of the sea.  Yet God rescued him.  God rescued him from himself.  Jonah was running from God, sinning against God in his disobedience, and still God is merciful to him.  Chapter 1 of the book of Jonah was about Jonah running from God.  Chapter two he runs back to God in prayer and God takes him back.

Verse 8 – Jonah knows that his being alive is only because of divine grace.  He begins to close his prayer, and he uses some powerful words to do so – "Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.”  Some commentators have said that Jonah is talking about the pagan sailors here.  I disagree.  I think Jonah is talking about himself, and his own personal idols.  The idol of pride.  He didn’t want to be sent to preach to his enemies.  He was a well respected prophet, and besides, “nobody” likes the Ninevites.  I think Jonah felt he was better than that, that he deserved a better assignment from God.  Pride.  Jonah is basically saying I thought I knew better than you God, and in that pride I almost missed out on the chance to see something great happen, the transformation of Nineveh.  Pride makes us stubborn doesn’t it?  Remember he is writing this story after it is complete.  He knows the ending.  He says if you hadn’t rescued me from my own stubbornness, I would have missed out.  In my studies and prayer time this week, verse 8 was the verse that really stuck in my head.  It rang true, resonated deep within me.  How often am I an idolater?  How often are all of us?  Anything can become our idols, often even good things.  We take good things and make them bad things.  We’ve been doing this since the Garden of Eden.  It could be our jobs.  If our jobs take the first place in our lives, if they replace God as our #1 priority, then our job is an idol we worship.  And when this happens, we forfeit some of the grace that could be ours.  We miss out on the great things God had in store.  Or how about your children?  Have your children become your idols?  Will you do anything to make them happy?  Are they your reason to live?  If so, your priorities are out of order.  As parents your job is to raise your children, to train them in the Word and prepare them for life, not to make them happy.  Making them happy is great, don’t get me wrong, but when that is the focus of your life, it screws up your family, and it screws up your relationship with God.  God wants to be first.  In fact, God demands to be first.  He tells us you are to have no other gods before him.  Wanting to be popular can be our god.  Drugs, alcohol, sports, money, being comfortable, food, sex – you name it.  If we place that thing before our relationship with God, we will miss out on the fullness of God’s blessing.  And even worse, those things will fail you.  They will use you up, spit you out, and move onto the next person.  If you don’t have the right priority – God – then you are missing out.  Moving on to verse 9.

Verse 9 – Now that Jonah has had a change of heart he praises God, giving thanksgiving, and offering up a sacrifice to God for His grace.  Inside the belly of this great fish, Jonah is singing praises to God, and he promises that when he gets out that he will offer up sacrifices to God.  If you aren’t familiar with the Old Testament ways, offering a sacrifice served a number of purposes.  It was a way to cleanse yourself of your sins – a method of reconciliation with God.  Jesus had not come yet as the greatest of all sacrifices.  This was Israel’s way of making things right, and also how they worshipped God.  It was a way for Jonah to be obedient to God after his disobedience.  He wanted to make things right.  Jonah repented, offered thanksgiving for God’s grace, and got himself back into right standing with God.  Today, you and I still have to repent of our sinfulness like Jonah did, but then if we know Jesus as our Lord and Savior, He stands in place as our sacrifice.  He washes us clean from our sin, so God sees us as blameless in his sight.  Jonah closes this section with the aptly appropriate “salvation comes from the Lord.”  That statement was as true nearly 3000 years ago as it is today.  Our salvation comes from nowhere else.  We cannot save ourselves.  It doesn’t matter how many good things we may do, or how nice we might be – without Jesus we are all sunk!  As I said last week, we are Jonah.  We all sin and fall short of the glory of God.  But there, there is Jesus, making things right for us if we repent and believe.  Jonah knew who his Maker was, who the giver of his salvation was.  It was God. Yahweh, the One True God.  It was Jesus.

Verse 10 – And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.  Jonah closes with a great reminder of who the main character is in this story.  It’s not Jonah.  It’s not the fish.  It’s not the fishermen.  It’s God.  God commanded the fish.  And the fish was obedient.  Jonah is now heading toward Nineveh, into the den of his enemies, into the town of some of the most wicked and cruel people in the history of the world.  And you’ll have to tune in next week for the next chapter to amazing this story!


Jonah 2 – Children’s Message:


auditory activity)

Materials needed:

Dark closet, large appliance box, blindfolds (or have the children close their eyes)

WHAT THE TEACHER DOES: (To prepare ahead)

There are no advance preparations necessary.


(Chris suggests:  Have the children close their eyes, then put a hand over their closed eyes – and I can turn the lights down too)

Have the children sit with you in the dark closet or

appliance box.  Fit as many in as possible so there

isn't any room to move or shift about. Ask them to

pretend they are inside a fish's stomach.  Imagine what

it must be like.  Ask the following questions:

1.  What does it smell like in here?  (Seaweed, rotten

food, salty, stale water etc.)

2.  What does it feel like in here?  (Slimy, slippery,

wet etc.)

3.  What does it look like in here?  (Probably pitch


4.  What can we hear in here?  (Gurgling, digestive

noises, echos etc.)

In our Bible story today a man spent three days in the

belly of a fish.  Let's get out of here and see how he

landed there. 

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