Jonah 2. Acts 23:12-24:21.
We are a lot like Jonah. God commands Jonah to go and preach, he takes off in the opposite direction. Much like Christ commands us to go and make disciples, and we ignore opportunities to evangelize our friends and contacts, or support mission. Jonah, too is confident of his religiosity (ch 1 v 9). He is about to experience God’s salvation (ch 1 v 17).
Jonah Ch 2 is a prayer uttered from inside a fish, deep in a stormy Mediterranean sea. God hears. There is nowhere we are, where God isn’t. Jonah, while drowning prays, and God answers (v 2).
Consider how lost he was-drowning, in a storm, alone, no one to rescue him. Totally lost. Precarious. Facing death. Consider how lost we were before Jesus found us.
Look at how appropriate the saviour was. A fish. An absurd saviour. To show it is by God’s grace alone-incredible, absurd, amazing grace. Jonah was not rescued by a passing ship- he would be indebted to sailors, but ridiculously by a fish. An absurd saviour- hung on a cross, crushed, suffering our punishment. Why? Because God loves us so much. Amazing grace.
Consider also how inactive Jonah was in his salvation. Not swimming, no cause for boasting- all he did was sink (vs.6), before he called out in desperation. Utterly by God’s mercy, not our effort (Ephesians 2: 8-9). We like Jonah are totally inactive. Jesus does it all.
Jonah was, as we see, totally changed by the experience, now willing to obey God’s command. It is salvation by grace that changes our hearts. Have you experienced the distress of your position before God? Not trying harder but calling out for mercy. Call to him.
The sign of Jonah (Matthew 12:39-41), which Jesus refers to, is that of God’s resurrected preacher. It is not the fish. Neither the sailors nor Ninivites saw a fish, but saw a ‘dead’ preacher arise out of the sea. This sign applied to Jesus, but far greater than Jonah in that he puts Death to death and demonstrates true resurrection.
In verse 8 Jonah concludes ‘don’t cling to idols.’ Anything that displaces God from his rightful position- images, career, wealth, pleasure, family happiness, image in the mirror- all making good things into God things can’t satisfy or save our souls. Only God can save (vs.9).
God can save any sinner. Anyone who cries out to him in distress. However lost, God can save them. Your neighbour, your friend, your enemy. Don’t keep this news to yourself.
Acts 23 records Paul doing this. Speaking of his salvation and hope of resurrection.
The sign of Jonah.