Preserving love (even when we’re little snots)


Jonah, the negative example of how our relationship with God should work

Our story so far:

  • Called to go to Nineveh, one of Israel’s great enemies, and warn them of God’s coming wrath
  • Ran away and took a boat headed for Tarshish, in Spain, the farthest point west that known to Israel
  • Great storm
  • Sailors pray to their gods, and Jonah slept
  • The captain calls Jonah to the prayer meeting, but there’s no evidence he prays
  • Jonah says they should throw him overboard, because he is the reason God has brought this storm
  • The sailors do so only after realizing they cannot row their way out of the tempest
  • Immediately, the storm calms, and the sailors praise the God of heaven and earth, offering a sacrifice to Him and making vows to Him

What we know or can surmise about Jonah from Chapter 1

  • Jonah was the son of Amittai (faithfulness) — irony
  • He hates (possibly with good reason, from his perspective) the Ninevites
  • He was disobedient to God’s commission
  • Prayer was not his first line of defense
  • He understood and recognized God’s sovereignty over himself and nature
  • He had a low value of his own life

What do we need to know about the rest of the story before looking at Chapter 2?

  • He eventually went to Nineveh
  • He did the very least he could do to answer God’s commission: “Yet 40 days and Nineveh shall be overthrown.”
  • He believed God to be merciful and believed God would relent in His judgment if the people of Nineveh turned from their wicked ways
  • He hated the people of Nineveh more than he loved the life God had given him
  • He tended to seek God only in his distress (sea, fish, heat, vine)
  • He was kind of a miserable snot
  • This story, though there’s evidence (including Jesus’ reference to it) that it’s historical, is also an allegory about Israel at the time of Jonah
    • They were self-righteous in their expectation that God would (as He had done so many times before) deliver them from their enemies BECAUSE they were His chosen people
    • They had not followed God’s call to evangelize the other nations:
      g., Psalm 67:2 — “God be gracious to us and bless us,
      And cause His face to shine upon us
      That Your way may be known on the earth,
      Your salvation among all nations.”
    • They sought God’s “judgment, justice and retribution for others,” while begging Him for grace and mercy for themselves (Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary)

Consider these things as we take a look at Jonah’s prayer in the belly of the great fish

  • Do you see the echo of the Cycle of Sin that we talked about a few weeks ago?
    • Summary verse
    • Jonah in dire straits
    • Jonah cries out for help
    • Jonah delivered
  • Note that Jonah recognized Who had put him in the situation
    • The storm
    • The sea
    • The fish (frying pan and fire?)
      • Criminals in jail
        • “I have been cast out of your sight”
        • “I was incarcerated on charges of stealing”
          • versus
          • “I was jailed for stealing money”
          • “God had me tossed into the sea to get my attention when I was disobedient”
        • This seems, at best, a weak recognition of Jonah’s own responsibility for his plight
      • Jonah recognized God’s power, just as a criminal might recognize the power of the justice system, but something’s missing from his prayer
        • Repentance
        • Shame
        • Willing heart
      • Jonah cries out for help, and he praises God when he gets it, but his heart is unchanged
        • Nineveh
        • “When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord.”
        • Again from Nelson’s Commentary: “The self-righteous make the grave mistake of rejoicing only in their own deliverance (2:9) and in God’s answers to prayer. They miss out by narrowing God’s grace and mercy to themselves.
      • And the LORD spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.
        • NKJV says “so.” Other versions say “And.”
        • Your learner guide and my teacher guide suggest that Jonah’s prayer was one of repentance and that his repentance led God to release him from the fish
          • I don’t see it
          • Pastor Chris doesn’t see it
          • I think God delivered Jonah IN SPITE OF his unrepentance
            • Why?
              • Merciful
              • Patient
              • Kind
            • What can we take from seeing it that way?
          • God’s love preserves us, even when we’re miserable snots
            • Don’t be that way

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