For Exposition of Jonah Part 3 click HERE
Introduction: Last week we looked at one verse in Jonah 1:16, and we asked the question: If you say you believe in God, does your attitude, action and words show this to be true? We saw that if we truly believe in God, it would lead you to fear Him, offer your service to Him and keep your words to Him. This week we will look at Jonah 1:17-2:10.
Establish the need: Have you ever sin so badly that you wonder if God will ever take you back again? And what does a prayer of responding to God’s grace look like?
Oscar Wilde once put it, “It’s so easy to convert others, but oh so difficult to convert oneself.”
Purpose: To see the four characteristics of what a prayer responding to God’s grace looks like so we can truly commune with God.
Jonah has been running away from God.
The last time we saw Jonah in chapter 1, he was thrown down to the sea.
What follows in chapter two is a Psalm/poetry.
Q: Why the shift to poetry?
A: All this time the narrative has been one action after another, but here we slow down in time to hear a prayer of Jonah.
According to verse 1, this is Jonah’s prayer to God while in the belly of a whale.
Few words are recorded of Jonah the prophet speaks to people.
Most of Jonah’s words are spoken to God rather than people.
Jonah will teach us what a prayer to God will look like. Let’s look at the Chiastic structure of this Psalm:
Great fish swallow (v.17) -SUBSCRIPT (v.1)-
Jonah’s voice: Cry for help (v.2)
Forsaken: Jonah (v.3-4a)
Temple hope: Will look at it again (v.4b)
Dire circumstances and remembering the LORD (v.5-7a)
Temple hope: Now prayers are getting there (v.7b)
Forsaken: Idolators (v.8)
Jonah’s voice: Sing thanksgiving (v.9)
Great fish vomit (v.10)
Grace driven prayer begins with remembering God in your trials (v.5-7a, 1:17)
Grace driven prayer desires God’s presence again (v.4, 7b)
Grace driven prayer confesses sin (v.3, 8)
Grace driven prayer involves involve our will (v.2, 9)
God’s mercy and salvation before our prayer of confession (v.17, 10)
(NOTE: We will be going over points 1-3 in this post with next week focusing on points 4-5)
I. Grace driven prayer begins with remembering God in your trials (v.5-7a,1:17, 2:10)
Passage: 5 “ Water encompassed me to the [f]point of death. The great deep [g]engulfed me, Weeds were wrapped around my head.6 “I descended to the roots of the mountains. The earth with its bars was around me forever,But You have brought up my life from [h]the pit, O Lord my God.7 “While [i]I was fainting away, I remembered the Lord,”
i. Jonah’s difficulties
- Verse 5 indicates Jonah was surrounded by trouble.
Subject Action Object EXTENT
“ Water encompassed me to the [f]point of death.
The great deep engulfed me,
Weeds were wrapped around my head.
a. These three lines are synonymous.
b. They convey the terrible and frightening scene of drowning.
c. Some of your version says “neck” instead of “head,” and the Hebrew word there is literally soul, but can refer to neck or head of a person that is the center of life.
2. Verse 6 indicates how down Jonah has gotten.
a. RECAP: Beginning in chapter 1, there’s been this theme of Jonah escaping God by going down.
b. “Descended” echoes the same verb used earlier of Jonah’s escape to Joppa and going on the bottom of the boat in 1:3, and in verse five.
c. Note the language conveying Jonah at the bottom:
i. “the roots of the mountains.”
Jonah is going down to the bottom of the sea floor!
ii. “the pit,”
- Translated elsewhere as pit, and one of several Old Testament terms for the underworld (Price, 45).
- It is where one goes after death according to Psalm 30:9 (Limburg, 68).
d. Yet there was hope (6b-7): “But You have brought up my life from [h]the pit, O Lord my God.7 “While [i]I was fainting away, I remembered the Lord,”
i. “But You have brought up”—This points to a dramatic change in direction (Kohlenberger, 52).
ii. This was done about by “O Lord my God”
iii. Just when Jonah was almost dead: ““While [i]I was fainting away, I remembered the Lord,” (v.7)
iv. It is significant to note that Yahweh took the initiative in saving Jonah here first (Kohlenberger, 52).
v. “Remembered” is more than just not forgetting, but act on the basis of a commitment (Kohlenberger, 52)! Remember that God knows all things, and it shows more that we act upon our commitment as He did with the Hebrews in Egypt seeing their suffering and going to the Abrahamic Covenant in Exodus 2:23-25.
i. Note Jonah’s extreme trials that led Him to know the Lord. What are the trials that God might be bringing into your life to turn Him back to Him?
ii. Are you going through trials right now in your life? Note the transition from verse 6 to verse 7 of Jonah shifting his focus at the circumstances to the Lord.
iii. Be careful of misapplication: Don’t think you can just wait until you are about to faint into your death and then repent. We are never promise tomorrow.
II. Grace driven prayer desires God’s presence again (v.4, 7b)
Passage: “4 “So I said, ‘I have been expelled from [e]Your sight.” Nevertheless I will look again toward Your holy temple.’”
“And my prayer came to You, into Your holy temple.”
i. Twice in this psalm, Jonah mentions God’s “holy temple.” God’s Holy Temple is where God’s presence is.
ii. Verse 4 begins with Jonah’s confession that he is currently away from God’s presence: “4 “So I said, ‘I have been expelled from [e]Your sight.”
1. Literally, ““So I said, ‘I have been expelled from [e]Your eyes,”” with the phrase “eyes of the Lord/God” is frequently used in the Scriptures such as in Psalm 34:16-17 in reference to divine benevolence (Sasson, 178).
2. The verb “expelled” here is used only in two instances in the Old Testament, both in Psalm 78:55 and 80:8 to show that the nations were the ones cast off from God, but now used somewhat ironically, since this is what is happening to Jonah (Kohlenberger, 49).
iii. Jonah here gets what he finally wanted: escape from God’s presence, but does he like it?
iv. The second half of verse 4 signals a transition of Jonah’s desire with the word “Nevertheless.”
v. NASB translates “will look again toward Your holy temple,” but I would translate from the Hebrew “I want to look again toward Your holy temple,” to bring the idea of Jonah’s wish because of the Hebrew imperfect.
vi. Does God hears Jonah’s wish to be back before God’s presence?
Answer: After Jonah remembers the LORD in his troubles, he said these words in verse 7b, “And my prayer came to You, into Your holy temple.”
Picture: A friend of mine got into an argument with his father and it was really bad. Finally, after several weeks of awkwardness, he calls his father and says he’s sorry. As he shared with me his remorse, I think we can say that if you were to listen in to him speak, you would say, there’s sign of true repentance because he saw what he did was wrong, and also because he wanted to restore that relationship and presence of his father. The same also with us and God, if we are going to really pray to him to repent of our sins.
i. When you pray to God and confess your sins, do you do it mechanically? Do you do it automatically with no feelings of remorse?
ii. One of the quickest way of knowing your prayers of repentance is genuine is to see if you spend more time after confessing of sins, to talk to Him in prayer about other things, and also if you find time to absolutely adore and worship God!
III. Grace driven prayer confesses sin (v.3, 8)
Point: Confession means admitting that the other person’s perspective is correct. In this case, confessing our sins to God means you will see your sins the way God sees it.
Passage: “3 “For You had cast me into the deep,Into the heart of the seas, And the current [d]engulfed me. All Your breakers and billows passed over me.”
8 “Those who regard [j]vain idols Forsake their faithfulness,”
i. Both section, verses 3 and 8, discusses about being forsaken.
ii. Verse 8 gives this pronouncement: “8 “Those who regard [j]vain idols Forsake their faithfulness,”
- “vain idols”
Not just idols, but anything that takes the place of God is a sin!
2. “Forsake their faithfulness,”
Some of your version will say loving kindness instead, and it refers to God’s enduring love in passages such as Psalm 110:5 and 106:1 (Limburg, 70).
iii. In verse 3, Jonah gives a vivid description of how he is forsaken by God. Thus, he’s saying that he’s among those who had forsaken God and himself also a sinner.
- ““For You had cast me”
- Again, another throwing verb appears in Jonah, showing the theme of Jonah going down away from God.
- This particular verb is used in the Old Testament in places like Psalm 51:11, 102:10 as a punitive separation from God’s presence (Kohlenberger, 49).
- Note the language of abandonment of where Jonah was at.
Learn to identify false apologies and real apologies to God:
- Is not concern with God’s perspective or what God’s Word has to say about the matter.
- make excuses for yourself
- shift the focus and responsibility off you and place them onto the listener (or God)
- imply that the victim or God is being unreasonable or oversensitive
- blame the one who was hurt or God Himself for the matter
- often include the word “but”
- acknowledge other’s perspective
- take responsibility without excuses
- agree with God’s perspective
- do not include the word “but”
Picture: Here are some of the ridiculous words people say to apologize when they really are not sorry:
FORMER PRESIDENT: “If the remarks on the tape left anyone with the impression that I was disrespectful to either Governor Cuomo or Italian-Americans, then I deeply regret it.”
A typical scenario: “I am sorry that what I said offended you. Next time, I’ll keep my thought to myself. By now, you should know that I have the tendency to say the truth as it is. I’m like the kind of guy that gets in trouble when the wife ask, “Honey, does this dress makes me look fat.”
We will continue Chapter two next week.
NEXT: Exposition of Jonah Part 5
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