Intro : Jonah series reminds us what church is to be, do. Review: God calls
Jonah to cry out against Nineveh; (motivated by God's mercy, we call people to repent.)
Jonah ran away; (guard our hearts from sin.) God sends storm, sailors scared, Jonah
sleeping; (wake up to powerlessness of world under God's judgment.) Sailors ask
Jonah questions; (listening is most effective strategy for witnessing.) Jonah tossed
into sea, swallowed by fish; (Jesus' cross was necessary for God to forgive sinners.)
Now, Ch. 2: Don't focus on fish! Jonah's longest speech; a glimpse into his soul.
Reveals a crucial element lacking in many: thanksgiving! (Read Romans 1:21.) How do we cultivate thankfulness?
The Ticking Clock! (Read Jonah 2:1.) Don't know how long Jonah may have hovered in
unconscious state in fish's belly before he realized he was alive. Wonder if fish's
movement began to form a rhythm, tempo in his mind. Jonah crafted melody, lyrics,
a song. Worked on it, set it aside, worked on it. Nothing but time on his hands!
Does God have a reason for allowing difficulty to swallow His people? When we encounter
painful times of waiting, how should we respond? Wonder why God has set you aside,
slowed you down? He's allowing you time to think, ponder, cultivate a heart of thankfulness.
Giving thanks to God takes time, becausec it takes time to see how great His grace
The Powerful Salvation! (Read Jonah 2:2-7.) Describes Jonah's desperate situation! Vs.
3-4; battered by waves, Jonah realizes certainty of death! No reason to hope for
rescue. Vs. 4 may be better interpreted, "How will I look again...?" Jonah, trying
to escape God, now sees his foolishness, wants relationship with God. Despairs of
that happening! Even worse, sinking, swallowed by death itself! (vs. 5-6a)
As he passes out, remembers God, offers a feeble prayer. That prayer rose from the
depths to the heights: throne room of God Almighty! Many never make it past vs.
2 in their thinking. "I called, and God answered me" (Jonah's summary of what happened.)
True. But v. 6b, then v. 7! What happened before Jonah called? God had already
begun to save Jonah; Jonah had already been swallowed by the fish! Gratitude springs
from remembering your true situation: How damned you were, how safe you are now
in Christ! (Read Ephesians 2:1-5.) When you see how great God's grace is, you
can't help but give Him thanks!
The Puny Alternatives! (Read Jonah 2:8.) Jonah reflects on the foolishness, danger of
missing God's grace by clinging to idols. (Lit. "empty nothings!") Not just statues.
Other deities, religions! Meddlesome: Idols are anything you trust more than God!
Yourself! Strength, experience, intellect, reputation, possessions, education, control,
accomplishments, family, church membership, righteousness. Confronted by death,
God's judgment, how will these help you? Empty nothings! When you see how powerful
God's grace is, compared to the idols' emptiness, you can't help but give Him thanks!
The Undeserved Grace! (Read Jonah 2:9.) Emotion of gratitude is not enough! Thanksgiving
involves follow through; (vs. 9a) ongoing worship, from your heart, through your
actions! Jonah promises ongoing worship because he has experienced the certainty,
joy, assurance of salvation! (v. 9b.) Very Important Question : At what point
in this song does Jonah begin to deserve God's salvation? Scholars debate whether
Jonah actually wrote this song. Say: Song indicates Jonah was converted/repented,
but his actions in ch. 4 disprove this! Missing the point! Obedience to God does
not qualify you for God's grace! (Repeat.) Already seen, God saved Jonah
in the middle of Jonah's rebellion... before Jonah prayed his thanksgiving song...even
though God knew Jonah was still going to get mad, pout about Nineveh...even though
God knew Jonah's behavior was not going to be perfect! This is God's amazing grace:
God saves us even though we don't deserve it...even though we will never
deserve it. Why? Because salvation does not come from us. "Salvation comes from the
Lord." When you see how great God's grace is, you can't help but give Him thanks!
Application : Where do you find yourself?
Take time to look at the awesome power
of God's grace, His tender-hearted willingness to hear the feeblest prayer of the
most desperate sinners. Let go of your idols and your need to impress Him. When you
see how great God's grace is, you can't help but give Him thanks! Give thanks
to God for His astounding grace!
- Waiting on God's timing?
- Feeling cut off from God, hopeless, despairing?
- Having trouble letting go of idols?
- Still trying to earn God's grace?
Next Time : When God forgives us, does He remove all the consequences of
our sinful choices? Why or why not? If you had a chance to live life over again,
what would you do differently?