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Good morning, Gateway Chapel!
Scripture: Psalm 139:7-12
Good morning again, everyone!
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This morning we’re pressing on in our 2022 Year of Biblical Exploration.
We are a unique group of people that see the Bible as relevant for today, not as an antiquated document, or a religious rule book, but a story and a map that points to Jesus.
And we want to follow Jesus because not only did he make us but he knows the best way to live.
And Jesus loved his Bible, even the Old Testament, and especially the kind of weird guys in the middle called the prophets.
And last week we started a short sermon series on one prophet in particular, the prophet Jonah.
You don’t have to be a Christian to be aware of Jonah.
The problem with Jonah is not awareness, but getting the story straight.
Last week we read from the popular commentary called Baby’s First Bible Stories, and we saw how in many modern retellings of Jonah, not only is Jonah chapter 4 missing, but key details are changed to tell a story that is primarily about morals.
Be nice!
Or else!
If you took notes last Sunday you might remember our two thoughts from Jonah 1…the first was that Jesus is the Anti-Jonah we need.
The story of Jonah is not just a lesson in morality and the dangers of not being a nice person, but it points us forward to a better Jonah who will go through the waters of death to save us.
The second was that Jonah represents the people of God and how we are comedically rebellious and also dearly loved by God.
Jonah's name means, “Dove” or “Beloved.”
It’s a pet name.
If you are in Christ, on our worst days, in our worst moments, we are God’s beloved.
But, Jonah is currently inside the stomach lining of an enormous fish.
How many of you are familiar with the crawl space of your home?
Or the house where you grew up?
Mine is inside our closet downstairs, and I have not opened that hatch in quite a while.
I should probably do that.
I’m not claustrophobic, arachnophobic, or rat-phobic, but I’m just a better person in well lit spaces without rats or spiders.
The thing that spooks me out about the crawl space, is if I go down there and somehow, I don’t know how but your mind goes weird places…if somehow I went down there and I got stuck.
The hatch closes and gets stuck.
And the light goes out.
And you hear something.
Sorry, I know I’m triggering some of you.
But I think to get into the story of Jonah, we have to recognize that kind of horrifying experience, is what Jonah is experiencing…but his is way worse.
If Jonah was stuck under his rambler alone in the dark with maybe one rat and a couple daddy long legs spiders, he could yell for help and someone would come eventually.
If Jonah was buried alive in a graveyard…someone might have followed him there and known where to find him and dig him out.
But to be on the inside of a creature that is moving at unknown speed, in an unknown direction, at unknown depths of the ocean…is hopeless.
How…does a dead man pray?
Jonah two verse 1...
Jonah 2:1 (ESV)
1 Then...
Last week, we read Jonah 1.
The word of the LORD (the main actor in all of the universe) comes to Jonah son of Amittai which means “My Beloved Son of Truth” and says “Arise, Go to Nineveh.”
That’s intense because Nineveh is the capital of Assyria, the brutal nation that will wipe out nearly the entire nation of Israel.
Jonah rose…but then it all goes wrong, instead of going to Nineveh he goes the complete opposite direction.
God moves seemingly every force in the universe to get his prophet back on track.
Nearly all the characters in the story, from the sea to the ship to the sailors to the captain of the ship respond to God’s power…except Jonah.
He’s sawing logs below deck.
And while Jonah says, “I fear God…the one who made all creation!”
His actions differ from his words.
And while the sailors and captain’s words initially show they’re not God’s people, eventually they respond to God with great fear, and worship him.
Eventually, Jonah asks to be thrown overboard (because he’s a hero or a quitter, we don’t quite know) and the sailors ablige…and at God’s command, along comes a massive fish.
And when we read “Fish” in our ESV Bibles, we kind of pause because Jonah is popularly known to be swallowed by what?
A whale!
But this fish imagery is one the Biblical authors use to communicate terror, chaos, and destruction.
And readers long long ago would’ve noticed the intended connection between Jonah going into a sea monster, with the events of God’s people being swallowed up by an enemy nation.
The Babylonian exile.
If you’re like me, you’re way more familiar with Jonah and the Whale because of bible stories growing up than you are of the story of the exile.
But the exile is a crucial story in Israel’s history because it’s the moment when all hope seemed lost.
And that’s what we see happening to Jonah.
Jonah’s Descent
Jonah 2:2–6 (ESV)
2 saying,
“I called out to the Lord, out of my distress,
and he answered me;
out of the belly of Sheol I cried,
and you heard my voice.
3 For you cast me into the deep,
into the heart of the seas,
and the flood surrounded me;
all your waves and your billows
passed over me.
4 Then I said, ‘I am driven away
from your sight;
yet I shall again look
upon your holy temple.’
5 The waters closed in over me to take my life;
the deep surrounded me;
weeds were wrapped about my head
6 at the roots of the mountains.
I went down to the land
whose bars closed upon me forever;
If Jonah was a Blockbuster movie, this scene would look different.
The Veggie Tales version is different too, there’s singing angels inside right?
There might be a montage of him trying to escape the fish, of his disgust of the smell, and touching weird stuff, struggling to breathe, being afraid.
The trailer of the movie might end with Jonah crying out and then the big text JONAH.
Streaming July 10 on Paramount Plus.
Jonah 1 was narrative, and so was verse 1 of Jonah 2. But then it switches to poetry.
If you’re like me, you’ve skipped over a lot of poems and genealogies in your Bible readings over the years.
Party foul!
I am still learning how to read biblical poetry.
How do we read poetry in our Bibles?
If I say, “Jake Cederwall is a beast.
Just look at him!” That’s a metaphor.
If you met him, you wouldn’t say, “Chris you liar!
I met him and he is in fact not a beast!
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