Today Jonah has to make a sacrifice? In order to make good on his surrender and commitment to God, he needs to sacrifice his judgemental attitude toward others whom God loves. We receive compassion from God. We don’t determine the fate of others…
1 From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. 2 He said:
“In my distress I called to the Lord,
and he answered me.
From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help,
and you listened to my cry.
3 You hurled me into the depths,
into the very heart of the seas,
and the currents swirled about me;
all your waves and breakers
swept over me.
4 I said, ‘I have been banished
from your sight;
yet I will look again
toward your holy temple.’
5 The engulfing waters threatened me,
the deep surrounded me;
seaweed was wrapped around my head.
6 To the roots of the mountains I sank down;
the earth beneath barred me in forever.
But you, Lord my God,
brought my life up from the pit.
7 “When my life was ebbing away,
I remembered you, Lord,
and my prayer rose to you,
to your holy temple.
8 “Those who cling to worthless idols
turn away from God’s love for them.
9 But I, with shouts of grateful praise,
will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’”
10 And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.
Jonah found himself inside a great fish after deciding he knew better than God. God was directing him to go and speak his word to the people of Nineveh and Jonah thought better: he didn’t think Nineveh deserved the compassion of God. Really now…
We don’t get to decide that, do we? We don’t get to tell God to whom he should have compassion. We are recipients of compassion from God. Not the jury determining the fate of others.
And so we see the outcome of Jonah’s disobedience in chapter 1. The ship he is on encounters a violent storm. After admitting that he is the cause, Jonah accepts being thrown overboard. The fish becomes his place of rest and reflection. Are you in the story with me, or are you caught up in the science of whether it could be a fish or a mammal or whether it’s allegory or a vision? Get back into the story. What we will learn from God in the story is more important today than the debate about the form of teaching…
Jonah calls out to God, who has his full attention. Ever been there? I am trying to keep from going there. I don’t want to be tossed overboard and I don’t want to find myself in the belly of a beast (literal or figurative). I ought to know better, right? I ought to understand that God will get my attention somehow some way, and I likely will not appreciate a Jonah-sized message. God please help me to listen here and now.
God will hear our cries now and in the beast. He will listen to us while the current swirl about us. When we finally realize our place and our predicament, he will be there, just as he was for Jonah.
God doesn’t want to kill us. He wants to make us stronger.
Be confident as Jonah is (vs. 4) that you will see God’s temple again. You can return to that place of living in his will and his plan and his place for you. Why? Because God brings our lives up from the pits we find ourselves in (vs. 6).
Jonah came to realize that he isn’t like – doesn’t want to be like – those who cling to the idols of our day. He wants to cling to God and is willing to sacrifice for this (vs. 9). What will Jonah sacrifice? The idol of his judgemental attitude toward others whom God loves. He will give that up. Willingly. Finally. And he will move forward as a servant of the Lord.
“What I have vowed I will make good,” Jonah commits in vs. 9. He will say to everyone, “Salvation comes from the Lord.” Indeed it does. Not according to my will or my timing or my evaluation, but rather based on God’s grace and his love and his glory as evidenced in the transformational redemption of the lost and hopeless of our world to become the found and faithful.
Jonah will make good on his commitment to God to surrender to him and be his servant. Will you make good? Will you give up your idol to serve God and be found and faithful today?