The good thing about studying further a series after you preach on something is that you are able to go back for deeper study. Sometimes that means you come to a better conclusion that you had originally. Case in point? The last few weeks going through Jonah chapter two I was struggling with whether or not Jonah repented in the belly of the Big Fish. The following is my conclusion, my reasons and what I see is the implication for our lives.
Further Consideration: Did Jonah Repented?
(A) Jonah saying “While [i]I was fainting away, I remembered the Lord,” (v.7a)
(1) Inversion of Noahic flood where Genesis 8:1 where “God remembered Noah,” since it’s God’s initiative that saves Jonah rather than the other way around (Youngblood, Location 2172).
(2) The faithful in the Bible typically confess that it’s Yahweh remembering them rather than they taking the initiative to remember God such as in Judges 16:28, 1 Samuel 1:11, 19; 2 Kings 20:3, Psalms 25:7, 106:4, Jeremiah 15:15, etc (Youngblood, Location 2175).
(B) Jonah’s prayer makes no reference to wrong doing and lacks confession or sorrow over his own sin (Youngblood, Location 2183).
(C) Jonah’s prayer has tension that indicate he might not understand the difference between penance and repentance
(1) Jonah 2:8 talks about other sinners who were idolators but there is not acknowledgement of his immediate sin and situation at hand.
(2) In contrast to the Idolators he compares himself as one who gives sacrifice to the Lord in the next verse in Jonah 2:9. He is comparing himself to others rather than comparing his sins to God’s standards.
(3) In Jonah 2:9 Jonah said “which I have vowed I will pay.” He might be having a works righteousness mentality going on here.
(D) Jonah’s attitude later on when Nineveh repented reveals that Jonah might not have had any heart change despite his initial behavior.
We can legitimately go to the conclusion to help illuminate what came before since the book of Jonah likes to use the literary device of intentionally leave out details in the beginning only to reveal it in a later scene what Jonah’s mind was thinking:
(1) The secret of Jonah’s reason for not going to Nineveh
(2) The secret of Jonah’s God with the mariner
What can we learn from Jonah not repenting?
(A) Action is not enough! Jonah did outwardly carry out God’s plan but it’s important to confess our sins especially in light of 1 John 1:9 that He is faithful to cleanse us when we do!
(B) Make sure you do repent!