Thank you for Your love for us – You are a king and our king died for us. You took on flesh – You became a person, a man, that You might know us intimately. The only way to do that was by You becoming a man and dying on the cross and in three days, the resurrection happened. And because of that, we have life with You. As we look at Jonah and his life, may we be reminded of the life of Christ. You brought us into Your family and we are glad to be there.
As we look at Jonah – the story becomes so familiar that there is one aspect that we can forget – and it might be one of the most important aspects of the story. Jonah – his experience foreshadows – looks forward to the death and resurrection of Christ. This is the sign that is given – the sign of Jonah being in the belly of the fish 3 days and 3 nights. This is a picture of the resurrection. I will focus on this. But we need to step back and see that the Old Testament is always pointing to Jesus – setting up what Jesus is going to do on Good Friday. It is through His death and resurrection that we have life. He took on this body – God, who is Spirit – had a body - and it is in the person of Jesus Christ – so that He might be able to pay the penalty for our sins. Ultimately, that is what this story is about.
With that in mind –
2 1 [a]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 deep in the realm of the dead I called for help,
and you listened to my cry.
3 You hurled me into the depths,
into the very heart of the seas,
and the currents swirled about me;
all your waves and breakers
swept over me.
4 I said, ‘I have been banished
from your sight;
yet I will look again
toward your holy temple.’
5 The engulfing waters threatened me,[b]
the deep surrounded me;
seaweed was wrapped around my head.
6 To the roots of the mountains I sank down;
the earth beneath barred me in forever.
But you, Lord my God,
brought my life up from the pit.
7 “When my life was ebbing away,
I remembered you, Lord,
and my prayer rose to you,
to your holy temple.
8 “Those who cling to worthless idols
turn away from God’s love for them.
9 But I, with shouts of grateful praise,
will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’”
10 And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.
When you hear the content of the prayer – what do you hear? Thanksgiving, praise, and salvation. You would think this would be prayed AFTER the fish spit him out. I think Jonah understood that the fish was his salvation – not a place of punishment, but a place of rescue. I think this was Jonah’s second prayer – he references the first prayer in his second prayer – He cried out – and the water was about to kill and destroy Jonah – and the great sea monster comes up to swallow Jonah and rescues him. He sees it as his salvation – and then, the fish spits him out.
God had to get him to the point to see that God was saving him in his trouble. We see the trouble – the great fish that swallows us – as out to destroy us, and God is saying – I’m using this event to rescue you – and so often, we have events like this that we want to run from – and it is in that very event that God has chosen to deliver us.
This prayer – many lines come directly from the Book of Psalms. This tells us – Psalms, as the prayer book of the Old Testament, after the exile – songs and psalms and prayers – these were the prayers of the church – the songs and prayers of the church. Jesus prayed the psalms – My God, My God, Psalm 22.
He used this prayer book of God. Do you pray the Psalms? I urge you – even one time a day – it is not hard, just open it up – and if it is a long psalm – just pray 10-12 lines. Out loud. With thought. It is a simple discipline/exercise that has been done by people of faith for millennia! Close to 3000 years! It was done by our savior. It is something we need to learn to do ourselves. To pray through 12 lines thoughtfully may take you 4-5 minutes a day. Sometimes – you have a quiet time, and you get nothing out of it. But as you pray back God’s word thoughtfully, eventually, certain ones begin to zero in on your life. “This is all about me!” It feels like God wrote this for you to express back to Him. At some point – a specific psalm will come to you at exactly the right time – Like Psalm 22 for Jesus on the cross. Continued at gracesummit.org/Messages/entry/09292013