A Song of Salvation.
Turn to Jonah CH.2 - where did we leave Jonah? (1:17) - in the belly of the big fish. Here he is inside the fish and he prays to יהוה! You can pray to God anywhere and He hears! Hallelujah!
-I am no poet! I skip over poetry, I am not the one to be preaching this chapter. Here is Jonah in the fish's stomach and he is writing poetry! I tend to do the analytical dissection of a passage, point by point – but there is a danger in analysing it you remove the heart (school novels) – but poetry is an expression of the heart. Try and identify with Jonah, sense his heart in these words - in his situation I reckon I'd be praying but it would be the desperate "Save me Lord!" prayer. This is an astounding prayer especially when you consider where it was written. Read 1:17-2:10 Is this a cry for salvation? - it is a prayer of thanksgiving, praise for deliverance - cf. Paul and Silas in prison. What did Jonah have to be thankful about? The thing is that Jonah has already been saved. We often consider the horrors of being swallowed by a fish - but the fish was יהוה's mercy and loving-kindness - He provided it to save Jonah - he was thrown to the depth of a raging sea - death was certain, that is what he expected .... the end. But instead of death, judgement he found mercy and overflowed with thanksgiving [this experience was critical in him preaching to Nineveh - he himself experienced mercy when he deserved judgement]. This is a song of salvation! [OHP]
Broken by loving-kindness (v.1, 2) v.1 – In the previous chapter we read about the sailors' salvation, not only were they delivered but so was Jonah. In the belly of the fish he prays a prayer of thanksgiving to יהוה. You can pray to God anywhere! Even from the stomach of a fish! Jonah had tried to run away from God - things had to get pretty extreme before he turned back to Him. All this display of God’s power and wrath did not cause him to return - it was יהוה’s loving-kindness that broke him. He knew he deserved death and didn’t shrink from it - he accepted his fate - but then found that death isn’t what he encountered but the יהוה’s mercy, His saving power. He deserved death but God personally sent a great fish to keep him from what he deserved. He deserved death but found mercy - this is the message of Jonah (cf. Jonah 3:10 When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it. Jonah 4:2,10,11 in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness, and one who relents concerning calamity. .... 10 Then the Lord said, “You had compassion on the plant for which you did not work and which you did not cause to grow, which came up overnight and perished overnight. Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?” ). Jonah had run away from God but God had not ceased from showing His loving-kindness, mercy and compassion. This overwhelming, personal, specific, detailed love - this control of the forces of nature to save one insignificant, rebellious, wayward, human - this love broke Jonah. Once more he prayed to יהוה - relationship was restored, communication restored, he would once more serve יהוה out of love and gratitude. Praise pours forth from Jonah! Like the sailors a genuine encounter with the reality of יהוה produces unfeigned worship. But in contrast to the sailors who worshiped out of fear, who only saw יהוה’s mighty deeds; the revelation to Jonah was of יהוה’s character - His nature, His ways - his was a worship out of love, out of relationship. We all, likewise deserve death but mercy is found in Jesus Christ.
Descent to the depths (v.2, 3, 5, 6) But there is only a song of salvation when you are saved, and you are only saved when you are in inescapable strife, when you've gone as low as it is possible to go. v.2 - From the belly of the great fish Jonah prayed - not a prayer of deliverance but a Psalm of praise to a merciful and compassionate LORD. Jonah did not see the fish as a distress to be delivered from, but the deliverance from distress. The distress was being in the depths of the sea which he likened to being in the heart of sheol did Jonah enter shell? - he in type entered Hades, pictures Jesus who in reality - a baptism of death - some say He entered the place of departed spirits (cf. 1 Peter 3:19 in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison;Acts 2:27,31 Because You will not abandon my soul to Hades, nor allow Your Holy One to undergo decay. 31 he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that He was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh suffer decay. Ephesians 4:9 (Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? Romans 10:7 or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).”) I would not be dogmatic on the point but certainly Jesus plumbed the depths of death. Jonah is not speaking of the belly of the fish but the depths of the sea (cf. v.3, 5,6) - from there he had cried to the LORD to save him and יהוה in His grace and mercy had heard and answered his cry - the fish was the answer to the cry for salvation from his distress. Therefore Jonah wasn’t in distress and misery in the fish but overflowing with joy, thankfulness and praise for the answer to his desperate cry. Despite his rebellion and running from God, when he cried for help, יהוה didn’t disregard him but still heard and answered his cry. Praise Him for His amazing grace and mercy, His compassion and loving-kindness, His slowness to become angry! He still answers and saves even though we are undeserving. The LORD answers! Hallelujah! He hears my cry for help! Bless His Name! He is kind to His willful, sinful, people. v.3 - Jonah was drowning! Down, down, down into the depths of the raging sea with its mountainous waves! Who could survive that?! But יהוה is in control! It is He who cast Jonah into the sea - not the sailors, not Jonah - it was יהוה; for He is in control of all things. The O.T. prophet attributed all things to יהוה - He was responsible for all things, even calamities. The hand of יהוה was against Jonah justly, in wrath for his rebellion, but nevertheless He heard and responded to the desperate cry for mercy and salvation. Praise His Name! He spared Jonah’s life in the most wonderful way. God far away – lama sabachthani?(v.4) Jonah pictures Jesus in His descent into the depths of death but also is a picture of God forsaking Jesus when He was on the cross: "So I said, ‘I have been expelled from Your sight." echoes Jesus cry on the cross "My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?" Jonah tasted death and came out the other side – Jesus tasted death and came out the other side, went as low as is possible and rose victorious. Only when we have sunk to the depth of helplessness will we find salvation [Watchman Nee – drowning man]
Faith and hope remain (v.4) v.4 - The ultimate crisis proved the genuineness of Jonah’s faith. In truth he hadn’t given up on God. Facing death, still his hope was fixed on יהוה - in that at that ultimate moment, his eyes weren’t on himself but looking to יהוה’s holy temple. That is where his faith, trust and hope were fixed - on יהוה. At the founding of the temple Solomon had prayed that any who looked to the temple and called upon יהוה in their distress might be heard and delivered (cf. 1 Kings 8:29 that Your eyes may be open toward this house night and day, toward the place of which You have said, ‘My name shall be there,’ to listen to the prayer which Your servant shall pray toward this place. Listen to the supplication of Your servant and of Your people Israel, when they pray toward this place; hear in heaven Your dwelling place; hear and forgive.). This is precisely what Jonah did. He may have been from the northern kingdom but his eyes were still set on the temple in Jerusalem and the God who said that He would cause His Name to dwell there. Even although he had been cast expelled from יהוה’s sight by יהוה Himself, still Jonah trusted יהוה! Still he would not give up on יהוה. יהוה had cast him out but he would not cast away יהוה and his faith in Him. Jonah’s faith was put to the ultimate test, and came through as gold (cf. 1 Peter 1:6,7 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;). יהוה was his fundamental basis - when all was stripped away (even, seemingly, יהוה’s allegiance to him) still the only thing that remained, the thing of ultimate importance, was יהוה. When all else was gone, Jonah still had his eyes fixed on יהוה’s holy temple. When all else is stripped away, may we be found with our eyes still fixed on Jesus. Compare Jesus who on the cross still had faith and hope (cf. Psalm 22:19-23 But You, O Lord, be not far off; O You my help, hasten to my assistance. Deliver my soul .... You answer me. I will tell of Your name to my brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will praise You..... For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; nor has He hidden His face from him; but when he cried to Him for help, He heard.) – crisis proves the genuineness of faithfulness, where our trust is truly placed. At rock bottom, when all else is gone, our faith must remain fixed on Jesus plus nothing.
God hears from His temple (v.2, 4, 7) if you have gone away from God there is a way back יהוה "heard" "answered" (v.2) v.7- From the very depths of the ocean יהוה saved Jonah - He heard and answered his cry for help. Jonah had run away from יהוה but in his distress he remembered Him and turned to Him and was not disappointed. If we, in desperation, cry to God – He hears! Hallelujah! Therefore Jonah now gives thanks and praise to יהוה - gives offerings of thanksgiving, confesses what יהוה has done - giving Him glory - fulfilling the vows to offer thanks and praise that he had made whilst in distress if יהוה would deliver him. Death almost overtook Jonah - in that very last moment, as his soul was fading away, he remembered יהוה. He had been trying to forget יהוה, but at the lowest point, the most desperate place he remembered what was most important. He hadn’t forgotten יהוה’s existence previously (cf. 1:9) so what did Jonah remember? - he remembered His nature, His essential character - that He was gracious, compassionate, merciful, slow to become angry, abounding in loving-kindness and one who relents concerning calamity (cf. 4:2). Jonah remembered the agreement made with Solomon regarding the wayward who repent and turn and pray to יהוה’s holy temple (2 Chronicles 6:36-39 When they sin against You (for there is no man who does not sin) and You are angry with them and deliver them to an enemy .... if they take thought and repent and make supplication to You, saying, ‘We have sinned, we have committed iniquity and have acted wickedly’; if they return to You with all their heart and with all their soul and pray toward their land which You have given to their fathers and the city which You have chosen, and toward the house which I have built for Your name, then hear from heaven, from Your dwelling place, their prayer and supplications, and maintain their cause and forgive Your people who have sinned against You.). יהוה had promised to forgive the repentant sinner who, in his calamity, prayed toward His holy temple, and to save them (2 Chronicles 7:14-16 if My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place. For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that My name may be there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.). This was יהוה’s pledge – Jonah put his dependance in יהוה’s loving-kindness. (Psalm 116 I love the Lord, because He hears my voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, therefore I shall call upon Him as long as I live. The cords of death encompassed me and the terrors of Sheol came upon me; I found distress and sorrow. Then I called upon the name of the Lord: “O Lord, I beseech You, save my life!” What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits toward me? I shall lift up the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord. I shall pay my vows to the Lord, Oh may it be in the presence of all His people. To You I shall offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and call upon the name of the Lord. I shall pay my vows to the Lord, Oh may it be in the presence of all His people, In the courts of the Lord’s house, in the midst of you, O Jerusalem. Praise the Lord!) He vowed to offer up praise when delivered, and this is the vow he is now repaying, the sacrifice of praise he now offers. God hears prayer! – our cry comes to His temple where He dwells God still hears the desperate cry
Brought out of the pit (v.6) v.5 - Jonah was at the point of death - water surrounded him until his soul was almost taken. Tumultuous water surrounded him, entangled in seaweed around his head. There was no chance of survival - by natural means - but - the "but" was יהוה! "He brought up my life from the pit" (v.6) Hallelujah! When all hope is gone, there is no possibility of survival, still there is יהוה, my Saviour! Praise His Name! He’s my Rock, He’s my fortress, He’s my Deliverer! In Him will I trust! v.6 - We noted Jonah’s path downwards, away from יהוה (cf. 1:3, 5) - he went down as far as it is possible - to the roots of the mountains, the very bottom of the sea. Jonah reached rock bottom! From there, the very lowest, wits end, that is where salvation is found - it is from there that יהוה rescues us. We must reach the very lowest, the end of ourselves, with nothing, no hope, no chance, all that is left is Jesus - trust in Him alone, plus nothing. Nothing but Jesus (cf. v.4). That is faith! - that is where salvation comes. When we are brought to the place where it is Jesus only, nothing we can do - so glory goes to Him alone. יהוה has lifted my life from the pit!! Praise His Name! If you are in a pit – He still lifts from the pit from which there is no way out. Bless the LORD! This deliverance from the pit brings wonderful relief and praise is the inevitable response.(cf. Psalm 30:1-4 I will extol You, O Lord, for You have lifted me up, and have not let my enemies rejoice over me. O Lord my God, I cried to You for help, and You healed me. O Lord, You have brought up my soul from Sheol; You have kept me alive, that I would not go down to the pit. Sing praise to the Lord, you His godly ones, and give thanks to His holy name. Psalm 40:1-2 I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; many will see and fear and will trust in the Lord. Psalm 103:1-4 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits;Who pardons all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases;Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;). Whatever your pit, Jesus can lift you from there.
Covenant loyalty (v.8, 9) v.8 NIV poor translation here: "Those who regard vain idols abandon loving-kindness" - The sense of uselessness and vanity and futility, the nothingness of idols is emphasized. It is futile to worship them or trust them - they cannot save. They were of no assistance to the sailors in their distress - the only hope is in יהוה. He alone can save (Acts 4:12). יהוה had promised to save and forgive the repentant sinner who prayed to His holy temple. Jonah remembered this and remembered יהוה’s character - he placed his trust in יהוה’s loving-kindness - His faithfulness, His covenant loyalty, His steadfast love that kept its promise and showed kindness to the undeserving because of the commitment that He had pledged Himself to. It was this, and this alone, that saved Jonah. It was nothing that Jonah did, it was יהוה’s grace, His חֶסֶד. Praise His Name! Those that turn from Him to idols abandon this loving-kindness - but it is this loving-kindness upon which our salvation and continued existence depends. Only a fool would forsake it! It is depending on יהוה’s loving-kindness, faith in who He is, that saves us - this brings the joy of salvation of which this psalm of praise is an expression (cf. Psalm 13:5 But I have trusted in Your loving-kindness; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.). Jonah did not trust in vain idols but put his faith solely in יהוה, who is abundant in חֶסֶד (cf. 4:2). Loving-kindness is the key word in covenant upon which relationship with God is based. It is loyalty - covenant is two way – we turn to idols we forsake our covenant commitment to יהוה, our loving-kindness – marriage is a covenant relationship, to turn to another god was likened to adultery. So to turn to other gods was to forsake the loving-kindness of the covenant relationship with יהוה. But Jonah, despite what he had experienced, could not turn to another – he clung to the covenant and relied on יהוה's unfailing love. God is faithful, loyal to His covenant. Don't forsake loving-kindness, covenant relationship – there is no salvation outside covenant relationship.
Salvation belongs to God (v.9) - salvation is solely due go loving-kindness. Jonah is overwhelmed by the grace, the loving-kindness of יהוה to one as undeserving as he - so he pours out his thanksgiving to יהוה. He is overcome with gratitude - gratitude that must find an outlet in giving - not repaying, but an expression of love and thankfulness for the favour so undeserved, yet so abundantly, given. In his prayer for salvation Jonah had pledged to יהוה if He would deliver him - having received that deliverance, he now fulfils the vows he made. Jonah rejoices in the God of his salvation (יְשׁוּעָה i.e. Yeshua - Jesus is our salvation!) (cf. Habakkuk 3:18 Yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.). Genuine salvation always produces unfeigned and abundant joy. Jonah offers up the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving (cf. Hebrews 13:15,16 Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. and do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.). Salvation is from יהוה and from Him alone (Acts 4:12 there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” Isaiah 43:11 “I, even I, am the Lord, and there is no savior besides Me.). "לַיהוָה יְשׁוּעָתָה" - literally "to יהוה" - salvation belongs to יהוה (cf. Revelation 7:10 and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” 19:1 After these things I heard something like a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God; Psalm 3:8 Salvation belongs to the Lord; Your blessing be upon Your people! ) Salvation is God's work, a Divine work. We want people saved so that they don't go to hell, think from point of view of man's benefit but salvation is primarily for God, for His glory. v.10 - When Jonah had leaned his lesson, he was delivered to do God’s will. יהוה commanded the fish to swallow Jonah (cf. 1:17) and it did - it did not dare spit him out again until יהוה gave the word. Now יהוה speaks again and the fish ejects Jonah onto dry land. The fish shows more sense than man because it implicitly obeyed the command of its Master. Jonah had learned the message he was to preach: God’s wrath is against the one who has rejected Him and disobeyed Him - God’s wrath is bringing imminent destruction but repentance is the way back to God - if you cry out to Him to save you, He is merciful and full of loving-kindness, He will forgive and save (cf. Joel “And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be delivered/saved). Jonah had experienced this first hand - this was no theoretical message - this was his crisis experience - he had lived his message! The stomach of fish was preparation so Jonah could preach from experience – he knew the reality of God's mercy. Now Jonah was ready to preach יהוה’s message - not dispassionately or reluctantly but with true conviction. Jonah would no longer preach from a position of spiritual and moral superiority, but as a humble fellow sinner, saved by grace, who had found that there is loving-kindness with יהוה - that salvation belongs to Him, not in man’s piety, religion and righteousness.