put together, 8/15/87 to 8/23/87.
This is a small chapter, showing that the Lord knows how to get our attention. The person who feels he can flee from the Lord is sadly mistaken, and he will find out otherwise. My first wife and I, since we have been in the ministry, saw more than one person who has attempted to avoid the Lord's hand where they were by attempting to flee elsewhere.
I suppose one of my fears since I have been in the ministry has been to resist the leading of the Lord or to be where the Lord does not want me to be.
Now we come to Jonah's response from the belly of the fish. V. 3 tells us that Jonah went to the very debts of the sea.
When did Jonah pray? After the three days and nights? We really can't say, but the indication is that he prayed after he had been in the fish for three days and nights. Why didn't Jonah cry out before this? Was he mad at the Lord? Was he so determined not to submit to the Lord that he would have rather died first? Once our mind is made up, what does it take to change it?
I believe that it was after Jonah sees that the Lord would not let even his willful death prevent what he is to do that Jonah cried out to the Lord.
I know of people who would rather die than make peace with God, swallow their pride and make something right with others or even lay aide pride and admit they are wrong in a decision they have made.
Note that there are things worse than death.
Being now fwallowed vp of death, and feeing no remedie to efcape his faith braft out vnto the Lord, knowing that out of the very hell he was able to deliuer him. (Geneva)
I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord. And this is when most of us do our crying unto him. When the affliction gets beyond our ability to handle.
And he heard me... His ear is always attentive to the cry of his children. Many times, as here, He brings distress upon His children so they will cry unto him. Like Jonah, though, when things are going good we have neither time nor motivation to cry out to the Lord.
When we are strong, we don't need his strength.
When we are prosperous, we don't need his prosperity.
When we are lifted up, we don't read his lifting up.
When we are in wealth, we don't need his wealth, etc.
But we do need Him in every area. If we would only learn to follow and depend upon him when we are on the dry land or even before we get thrown in the sea, if we could only learn that we need him every hour, just think of the work that could be accomplished for Christ and the Nineveh's which could be reached.
Jonah did not cry out until he was in the fish. Far too often the only time we cry out not until the fish swallows us. Yet God hears. It is never to late to cry out to Him.
out of the belly of hell. Obviously, this was not the lake of fire, but was the realm of the dead.
For he was now in the fifhes belly as in a graue or place of darkneffe. (Geneva)
The marg reads "the grave."
Jonah knew exactly who put him here. Then we have a description of him going down in the sea in the fish.
V. 4 It is interesting that Temple is capitalised in Geneva.
This declared what his prayer was, and how he laboured between hope and defpaire, confidering the neglect of his vocation, and Gods iudgements for the fame: but yet in the end faith gate the victory. (Geneva)
Jonah knew he was cast away from the Lord because of his sin, yet he cried out to the Lord anyway.
1 Ki 8:38, Solomon promised that if man, even in his rebellion and under the judgment of God, would turn and pray, God would hear and heal.
Of course, the tabernacle and the temple were all pictures of Christ. Therefore, if we will turn from our rebellion against His command-word and pray toward our temple, Christ, then we also can expect God to hear us, Heb 4:16.
Vv. 5 & 6
These verses describe Jonah's experience in the belly of the fish. I believe that Jonah not only went to the very bottom of the sea, but he went into the very jaws of death.
Thou haft deliuered mee from the belly of the fifh and all thefe dangers, as it were rayfing me from death to life. (Geneva)
Note the word, corruption. This is identical with the description of the Lord, Ps. 16:10. I believe Jonah died, but that is my speculation.
When my soul fainted within me then I remembered the Lord... Things get serious, so Jonah gets serious. He is assured that the Lord heard his prayer.
Many forget the Lord when their soul faints. Then they give up with, "What's the use of continuing on?" It is very easy to watch the circumstances (fish) around us, and if we do, our soul will faint even to the place of giving up.
Jonah's soul fainted, but he remembered the Lord. Of course, God's purpose with the fish was to get Jonah's soul to faint, get his attention and to turn him back in obedience to the word of the Lord.
The situations we go through:
if we will respond right to them, we can be more for the Lord;
if we will learn from them, we can be better for his sake;
yet if we take our eyes off the Lord and forget Him, if we fail to see the Lord's hand in our circumstances, then not only will our soul faint, but we will physically faint and fall away.
We must not remember the neighbor, the co-worker, the spouse, or the preacher; we must remember the Lord if we expect the Lord to intervene.
1) Jonah's soul fainted.
2) He remembered the Lord.
3) He cried out to the Lord.
4) The Lord heard Jonah.
Many times, our problem is that we fail to remember the Lord's word and past actions and mercy in our behalf, so we faint dead away.
We can be assured that the Lord will hear our faintest cry also.
observe (wait vpon) lying vanities...
They that depend vpon anything faue on God alone.
The soul faints, but the average person turns to the false gods around them. They turn to lying vanities, or things which offer hope, but those vain things do not produce what they offer.
Deut. 13:1-4, indicates that the Lord our God will permit the lying vanities to come our way to test our determination to follow his word, (as well as other things).
Matt. 18:7, our Lord tells us that these will come. They must but woe to the one who they come by.
Jonah says here in 2:8, the ones who listen to these nice lies do so at their own perils.
forsake their own mercy.
Jonah tells us that when one turns to the vain things around him in his desperation, he is responsible for turning from the mercy that is his in the Lord Jesus Christ. Jonah turned from obeying the word of the Lord as the Lord gave to him; therefore, he forsook his mercy in the Lord.
They refufe their owne falicity, and that goodneffe which they fhould elfe receiue of God.
This verse implies that each person has a specific portion of God's mercy set aside for them. Thus when they turn from obedience to the Lord, they miss their portion of God's mercy.
Jonah, in fleeing from the presence of the Lord, forsook the mercy the Lord had for him.
God permits these offenses to come to try our faith. To try our commitment to him and his word.
Lying vanities will come, but woe to the one who brings them. The ear tickling messages from the false prophets will be there, but woe to those prophets and to the people of God they win away.
False prophets will come telling us that these little sins aren't so bad. They will tell us that the little things do not really matter that much to God, for he is the loving Father, the old man upstairs who winks at sin. The people love the message. (Jeremiah 5:31.)
But God is holy, and he will judge according to his holiness and justice.
Since I started in the ministry in the middle 60s, I observed a distressing thing from those who profess Christ. I have always been around sound Bible believing people who claim to love God above all else.
People like to attend Bible-believing, Bible preaching, hell, fire and damnation churches. They want to go somewhere that preaches hard against sin, but they do not want that preaching to be to pointed.
There is an interesting little passage over in Isaiah, but Isaiah is not the only one who ran into this problem. Jeremiah also confronted it several times, e.g., Jeremiah 43. Ezekiel faced it, as did Amos in Amos chapter 7. In fact, I believe you will find the problem mentioned consistently as the men of God stood before the people of God and tried to warn them of their sins.
What was the problem?
Isaiah describes it very well:
9 That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD: 10 Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits: 11 Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us. (Isaiah 30:9-11.)
Isaiah had been speaking to those who had been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. (1:2) Though the Lord had provided for them in miraculous ways, they turned from hearing God's word and from obeying it. They are rebelling against what God wanted them to do. (30:1)
Isaiah is warns them of impending judgment, telling them that God is raising up a nation with which he will judge them. Seeing the promised judgment headed their way, rather than return to the Lord, they send ambassadors down to Egypt to make a deal. They sign a treaty or an alliance which will give them Egypt's protection against the nation which is preparing (being prepared by God) to move against them.
As Isaiah gives them a very blunt warning, look at what God says about them, Isaiah 30:9. He says that they will not hear the law of the Lord. They refuse to hear about their sin, and the judgments coming against their sins.
In 29:15, they desired to go their own way after their own counsel, and they want no one to hinder them, nor to speak out against them.
One will find that throughout Scriptures, the Spirit speaks very clearly, plainly and pointedly to people about their sin. Isaiah names the cities, the people and the situations, as does Jeremiah and Amos.
People claim to want New Testament Christianity. They claim to desire the word of God be preached. But do they? Paul instructed the early church pastors in 1 Timothy 5:20: Them that sin rebuke before all that others also may fear. When was the last time we heard Paul's kind of an open rebuke, by name? They want to be defined as Pauline Christians, but they do not want to have Pauline doctrine applied to them, rebuke before all... Admittedly, as a pastor, it would have been with great fear and trepidation for me to rebuke a sinner in the church by name before all...
I found that when the preaching gets to close to home, many people will flee rather than put up with the pressure or deal with the problem (as Jonah did).
Paul told pastors to expect people to resist sound doctrine, which included reproof, rebuke and exhortation. (2 Timothy 4:1-4.) Paul gives the same warning to Titus, chapters 1, 2, and Peter sounds the same warning, We will find this same warning given to Titus. Peter also gives the same warning in 2 Peter 2. Of course, it is hard for a pastor to rebuke publicly a church member for doing the same things he might be doing.
In 2 Timothy 4:1-4, Paul warned Timothy that when the preacher starts getting too close to home and saying things from the word of God that either people do not want to hear, believe, nor deal with in their lives, they will find other teachers who will provide a message better suited to them. They will turn from the truth because it hurts their ears, and will seek out fables which will not hurt their ear. They want their ears tickled rather than hurt.
V. 5, Paul continues on his warning to pastors: "Watch out, don't you get caught in it. Don't you be one of the teachers who teach according to what people want to hear, according to what makes them feel good. Rather, you must endure the affliction which will come because of the truth."
Thus, Isaiah's problem was not new nor unique; it is a problem as old as human nature. Isaiah 30:10,
"Isaiah, don't preach about our sins. Preach about the sins of others, and we will thank God for you, but not about us. We don't want to hear the truth about us. We don't want to hear about the requirements of God for us. It makes us uncomfortable. Tell us some good things for a change. Tell us some soothing, loving things. Give us some thing to life us up. Tell us about how much God loves us or how good we are or how special we are, and how much God loves us. We want more love. We don't want to hear about sin and God's judgment. We don't want to be beating down. We don't want our lives compared with the law of God to where we must do something. We don't really think God will judge us as you say he will. Let us continue in our eating and drinking because tomorrow we die. (22:13.) It doesn't really matter that we have forsaken God's law. Are we not his chosen people? (Chp. 65.) So what if we aren't serving and glorying God as God over everything. No one else does either. We want you to make us feel better about ourselves. We want soothing things so we can accept ourselves better. In fact, Isaiah, if you don't, we will find a 'preacher' who will tell us these soothing things we desire to hear. We will find someone with a message that will make us feel better about ourselves, others and God, and there are plenty such preachers."
Pastors and teachers by the hundreds teach what draws the biggest crowd and soothing words will bring them in as flies to a dead body.
Notice what Jonah said, 2:8 They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy. That is, those who listen to the soothing lies, the lying vanities, do so at their own peril.
The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof. (Jeremiah 5:31.)
O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself, but in me is thine help. (Hosea 13:9.)
Seek ye me and ye shall live. (Amos 5:4.)
Ezekiel chapters 3 and 33, God gives Ezekiel his commission. Paul repeats Ezekiel's commission to the new pastors of the new church, both Timothy and Titus. As we have already pointed out, Peter also passed on Ezekiel's commission, and we can find the commission throughout God's word. It is always the same.
Ezekiel was sent to God's people. The prophets were sent to the sheep, not to the wolves. These men's commission was not to convert the wolves into sheep. Reading Ezekiel 3 & 33, Timothy, Titus and Peter's books, one will find that the charge to God's men is to go to the people of God, and warn them of their sin from God's law (for sin is the transgression of the law, 1 John 3:4). The goal is to call them to repentance, and to return to their Lord and live.
With the commission is the warning to God's men that his people will not want to hear repent, and they will seek out teachers with soothing words. Jonah tells us that as they flee to more loving teachers, they forsake the mercy God had in store for them if they would only yield to the truth. Yielding to the truth by God's grace results in God's mercy and prosperity. (Notice we hear a lot about Jabez's prayer, 1 Chronicles 4:10, but nothing about Nehemiah's prayer, 1:11.)
As I have spoken to people, those who want to know the word of God so they can do it thereby inheriting the grace, mercy and blessings of God, want hard, sharp pointed preaching of the truth. I have even had them ask to tell them if I see them violating God's word to let them know so they can change. They enjoy the truth.
On the other hand, there are far more who will seek out soothing teachers, teachers who will not bring them face to face with God's word where they must do something or be in open rebellion against God.
Paul did not lay the blame on the teachers although the soothing teachers will face God's anger, wrath and judgment. Paul did lay the blame upon the hearers as did the Lord in Isaiah and Ezekiel.
God help us to rejoice in the truth and especially when we must come face to face with Christ from his word, and then have the willingness to act upon it, grace.
The soothing teachers, the offenses, the false prophets will always be there, woe to them, and woe to them that seek after their soothing words.
To here 8/23/87
V. 9 (Hosea 14:2)
Jonah, out of the fishes belly, makes a sacrifice to God, Ps 51:7; Rom 12:1, Heb 13:15.. The sacrifice that has always pleased God, even in the OT, is not a burnt piece of meat; rather, it is a broken and contrite heart. The heart is broken and submissive to the will of the Lord.
Jonah offers the sacrifice, and promises to pay his vow. God wants us to make commitment to follow His revealed will for our lives according to the very best enabling grace He provides.
Baptism was a vow to the Lord to obey His revealed will for our lives.
The vow here is simply a vow to obey the Lord wherever He leads.
Salvation is of the Lord.
I am very partial to this statement, for I consider it the very heart of the gospel, Ps 3:8.
God chooses, calls, quickens and keeps His own. Salvation is not of man but of the Lord. Has God spoken to your heart? Don't put him off. Has God sown you a need in your life? Respond.
The fish obeys God. He swallowed Jonah upon command, and now he delivers Jonah safely upon command. All of creation obeys God, except man.
Notice that only the Lord can speak to our circumstances; only he can cause them to change; only He can move in them and put us above them. Our hope must be placed in Him and what He can do, not in anything we can do.
Where is our hope today? The time we spend in private prayer to God is a good indication of where our hope is placed.
1. God does His pleasure upon this earth.
2. God used a rebellious preacher.
3. It is never to late to cry out to him.
4. What kind of affliction is required to get us to cry out to him?
5. It might seem that we are cast away from Him, but the Lord knows our name, SS number and our address.