478. The God Who Helps In Times Of Trouble. Jonah 2:1-10

There are times in the lives of many of us when we feel as though we have been overcome by difficulties, immersed in situations in which there seems to be no way to escape. It’s as though for some people, their lives have come to an end. Is it possible to be freed from those crippling difficulties so as to be able to live again with some sense of meaning and purpose?

The truths in Jonah chapter 2 provide some encouragement for people in today’s world who seem to be trapped in an inescapable morass. The story opens with Jonah being inside a great fish. He had been told by God to go to Ninevah to preach and to warn the residents to turn from their wicked ways. But he had disobeyed and had gone in the opposite direction and had boarded a ship going to Tarshish. When a severe wind and storm arose, the sailors reluctantly [at his suggestion] cast him overboard. A great fish then swallowed Jonah. The chapter ends with these words, “And the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land.” Jonah 2:10. What had happened for Jonah to secure his freedom? We see the following truths in this chapter.

1]. Jonah Prayed To The Lord. 2:1. Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the belly of the fish.  2  saying, “I called out to the LORD, out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice.”

Entombed in the belly of the great fish, Jonah prayed. We see three things in his description of what happened. 

  • There was his recognition of his drastic situation. He was in distress. He was in the belly of the great fish.
  • There was his response to the situation. He brought his situation to God. He “called out” to God. He “cried” out to God.
  • There was God’s response to his cries for help. God answered his call for help. God heard his prayer [and answered it.]

2]. Jonah Recognised That His Sin Had Led To His Present Difficult Situation. 2:3-6.  

“For you cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me; all your waves and your billows passed over me. 4 Then I said, ‘I am driven away from your sight; yet I shall again look upon your holy temple.’ 5  The waters closed in over me to take my life; the deep surrounded me; weeds were wrapped about my head. 6  at the roots of the mountains. I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me forever; yet you brought up my life from the pit, O LORD my God.”

Jonah recognised that it had been God who had been responsible for him being cast into the sea. The sailors had been the human instruments in throwing him overboard, but it was God’s way of dealing with Jonah’s disobedience. That recognition is seen in his words, “I am driven away from your sight.”

It’s a reminder to us that God may use other people in His purposes to bring us back to Himself when we have wandered from His way. He allows difficult people in our lives who make life difficult for us. But when we eventually bring our situation before the Lord and receive His help, we are able to see those people as “grace builders.” Not in the sense that they were gracious to us or imparted grace to us. Rather in our difficulty we cried to God for His grace to be on our lives and He answered our prayer. So in a sense, they were used to “build up grace” in us. 

3]. Jonah Cried Out To The Lord In The Midst Of His Difficulty. 2:7.

Jon 2:7  “When my life was fainting away, I remembered the LORD, and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple.”

It seems that Jonah recognised that his life was coming to an end, so his mind recalled the Lord, his only hope. He prayed to God and God graciously answered him. 

4]. Jonah Bore Witness To God’s Saving Grace. 2:8-10.

Jonah utters a statement about the inability of false gods to help humans in their time of need. The hope of receiving steadfast love resides only in the one true God. “Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love.” Jonah 2:8.

However, Jonah had turned to God and affirmed that salvation belonged only to Him. He had recommitted his whole life and future to the Lord. “But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the LORD!” 2:9. 

Then miracle of miracles. “And the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land.” 2:10. The impossible had become possible by the grace and mercy of God. The captive had been set free by the power of God! Jonah’s prayers had been answered!

Jonah had been sent by God to preach to a rebellious people in Nineveh but had disobeyed Him. Much later Jesus was sent into the world to minister to His people, many of whom refused to trust in Him. They wanted Him to perform a great miracle so that they could believe in Him. But Jesus had already performed great miracles among them, and they had continued to harden their hearts against Him. So Jesus warned them that no sign would be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah, “For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Mat 12:40. Jesus’ resurrection from the dead would be the sign that He was the Messiah who had come into the world to save His people. It was as though the story of Jonah and his release from the belly of the great fish had been a preparation for the nation of Israel to believe in a Messiah who would rise from the dead after 3 days and nights. Jesus saw Jonah as a historical figure whose life had been a preparation for the coming of the Messiah into the world.

Blog No.478 posted on Thursday 04 May 2023.

About Jim Holbeck

Once an Industrial Chemist working for the Queensland Government but later an Anglican minister in Brisbane, Armidale and Sydney. Last position for eighteen years before retirement in 2006 was as the Leader of the Healing Ministry at St Andrew's Cathedral Sydney.
This entry was posted in BIBLE PASSAGE OUTLINES, Bible verses. Comments, Evangelism, Faithfulness, Forgiveness, Healing, Holy Spirit, Judgement, Justification, Mental Health, New Covenant, Prayer, Real Life Stories, Salvation, Sanctification, Temptations and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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