Recap & Context
Last post we discussed the sovereignty of God and the selfishness of Jonah. We ended by asking “Why the fish?” and concluding with the thought of God wanting to work in Jonah’s heart just as much as in the hearts of the Ninevites. And now we get to a chapter that gives us a peak into Jonah’s heart.
Setting up the mindset, though, has anyone here ever had a near death experience? Ever had your life flash before your eyes? That’s certainly what it seems like Jonah was having
Vs. 1 — Context
Interesting that vs.1 starts off with “Then.” Did Jonah not pray to God until after the three days and nights mentioned in 1:17?
How often do we try to “go it alone” and only use prayer as a last resort?
What are our habits of prayer? First thought? Last resort? Middle confirmation?
True prayer is a stance of humility.
We have to remember this book is written at some point after all of the events spoken of have already happened. Jonah is thinking back on his time in the fish, on his solitude, and remembers his God.
When do we tend to remember God (vs.7)? Prior to trouble, in the midst, or afterwards?
When do we best remember to pray to God? Can we structure our life around times that promote prayer?
We note that God never left Jonah even though Jonah was fleeing from him.
Do you ever feel like God is distant? Why?
Vs.2–3 — Recognizing Judgment
Jonah/Jews equated the abyss/deep sea as a type of hell/hades/purgatory. Parallel with the belief of Christ’s possible descending to hell in between his death and resurrection.
Sheol was considered a purgatory or half-way house for people awaiting final judgment in Jewish tradition (as opposed to Gehenna which was final judgment of torment, what we consider Hell).
It’s very possible that Jonah genuinely thought he had died. And in that sense, God could have been showing him a glimpse of judgment. Waters were especially a picture of God’s judgment (i.e. Noah, Red Sea, etc.).
But at the very least, Jonah recognizes that his situation was God’s doing.
How do we address the hardships in our lives? Do we accept them as from God? Or do we credit other sources?
Vs.4–7 — Hope
Sheol was a waiting place of judgment and so Jonah could have been saying that he was waiting for God’s deliverance. Jonah’s hope was still in God. He was looking to Him and counting on His salvation in a desperate situation.
How easy or difficult is it for you to have hope in God’s deliverance from a hard situation? Why?
Has anyone ever prayed a foxhole prayer? As you were “fainting”?
While Jonah was separated/cast out from God’s presence (the temple) he knew that God still heard him.
Vs.8–9 — Ironic Insight
Do we detect a hint of pride in these verses where he compares himself as one who sacrifices but others as forsaking their faithfulness? As he writes this afterwards he has to understand the irony in these words for what will come next in the story.
This is a topic we’ll cover in more detail later on in the study, but up to this point in the story, what idol do you think Jonah was regarding when he ran from Nineveh?
What idols do we cling to?
When we run towards something, we’re always running away from something else. In this case Jonah says to cling to idols is to forsake steadfast love. The love for an idol is a counterfeit love.
And here we end with Jonah stating a true fact but still putting it in such a way as to possibly be working an angle to gain salvation out of Sheol.
Vs.10 — Conclusion
We begin and end with this resultive word “then.” We don’t know if God had the fish spit him out as a response to the prayer or if the fish simply arrived at the destination.
In any case, this is the end of the fish. What we consider to be the biggest part of Jonah’s story and it’s over in two mentions. But in fairness this was probably the biggest wake up call Jonah may have gotten in his life.
Sometimes we get caught up in our stories that we fail to see the big picture. Sometimes we get so busy and rushed trying to handle the hardships of life. But do we realize that God could be using our hardships in a way to bring us to a more useful position? Sometimes we should slow down, enjoy silence and solitude, and reposition our hearts on Christ. Then, God will use us in ways we never could imagine amongst all our own postulating.
Has God ever used your hardships to position you to be a blessing to others?
- What do we learn about God in this prayer? God hears, answers, judges, saves, restores. God hears us in the depths.
- What do you think this prayer exactly is? Is it repentant? A plea? Thankfulness?
- Have you ever felt in a place out of your control? Ever felt helpless?
- Why the fish? Could it have been judgment as well as restoration? Sometimes they may feel the same.