I’m not preaching Jonah 2 to the church. It’s too intimate of a prayer to preach broadly to more than one individual at a time. But I wanted to write this to help fill in the gap in our Jonah series and to bring us into a deeper experience with the book of Jonah.
In Jonah chapter 2, we see a deteriorated and broken man soaked with brine and whale mucous contemplating the whirlwind of events that brought him to this quiet place of healing. What Jonah thought was judgement was actually his Salvation. We watch this realization unfold before him as he begins his poetic prayer.
“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.”
The reason this is intimate is because we have all been to this secret place before. We have experienced the sharp hammer blow of rebellion and it’s unavoidable consequences. Its effects knock the wind out of us as we find ourselves thrown off the bow of our sinking ship and into the crashing waves. All is lost. We resign ourselves to a slow and certain death as we drown in the waters of our guilt. As Jonah kicks one last time, his face surfaces and he gulps one last breath before the next wave overtook him. Have you felt this before? Hear Jonah’s words and bring yourself to that place again.
“The waters closed in over me to take my life;
the deep surrounded me;
Weeds were wrapped about my head
at the roots of the mountains.
I went down to the land
whose bars closed upon me forever;
Yet you brought up my life from the pit,
O Lord my God.”
Here, in a dramatic portrayal of God’s redemptive heart, salvation opened it’s mouth and swallowed Jonah. What was dead is now alive. Lungs that were filled with salt water, were now filled with the breath of God. And Jonah is brought to a place of quiet healing. A place of quiet repentance. A place of quiet rememberance. A place of grateful worship. Have you been here before?
“Those who pay regard to vain idols
Forsake their hope of steadfast love.
But I with the voice of thanksgiving
Will sacrifice to you;
What I have vowed I will pay.
Salvation belongs to the Lord!”
And just as chapter 2 begins with one act of salvation, it ends in another.
“And the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land.”
As I’ve repeated with my congregation, Jonah does not carry the burden of this story alone. As we carry this plot in the presence of God, we see that Jonah disappears and we find ourselves as the main character. It is our story.
You can find previous and subsequent sermons within the Jonah series online here at Vimeo.
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