Jonah 2

Jonah 2 begins with a prayer.  Remember that Jonah has run from God, at least he thought so, and got tossed into the stormy waters to keep the boat he was on from sinking.  But God didn’t let him die.  God sent a fish to swallow him and now Jonah is in a bit of a pickle.  I’m not sure what the belly of a fish is like, but I can’t imagine it was a step up from where he had been sleeping down in the ship not long before this.  Scripture says it this way: “I called out to the Lord, out of my distress”.  We’re good at prayer like this, aren’t we?  Big trouble – time to call on God.  Not exactly how God intends our prayer life to operate, but for many of us, it is how we live it.

So what happens to that prayer?  “He answered me… heard my voice”.  God was there.  He was listening, and He answered.  But then it moves from a God out there somewhere to a personal thing.  “He” becomes “you”.  No more just God up there in the sky someplace sitting on His throne, but a personal connection.  And Jonah makes it clear that he knows that God is in control.  That God has caused what has happened to occur.  That God is God and only He can save him.

Jonah is in a tough spot.  But he understands that he can’t do anything about it.  “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”.  Jonah knows that life is over for him, except if God gets involved and changes his circumstances.  We often have to get to the end of ourselves, unfortunately, before we get to a point in life we recognize what Jonah does here.  That God is not just a way, He is the only way.  He is our only hope.  He is the only solution.  That’s when we finally get past ourselves and get in line with God.

Jonah gives us the sequence of how it often happens:

–       “When my life was fainting away

–       I remembered the Lord

–       my prayer came to you

–       Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love

–       I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you

–       what I have vowed I will pay

–       Salvation belongs to the Lord

Do you recognize that sequence of events?  We get in way over our heads.  We think life is coming to an end and viola, memory returns and we recall that there really is a God who is in control.  So we cry out, totally overwhelmed by our circumstances.  We are willing to give up the idols and human junk that we have been worshipping and consumed with, and we get right with God.  We make promises and offers to change how we live knowing that God alone can save us.  We realize that Salvation only comes from the Lord.  And He moves.  He does what He does and loves us.  In Jonah’s case, “the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land”.  God not only saves his life, He sets Jonah free.  But what a lesson Jonah has learned about running from God.  It doesn’t work.  It won’t work.  The right response is to run toward God and obedience.  That is how we achieve blessing and success!

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