This devotional life is birthed out of a recognition that God has delivered you.
What do the letters “G.T.T.” mean? If you were to travel around the US during the 1830’s you would find many abandoned cabins with the letters “G.T.T.” carved on the doors. The letters stood for “Gone to Texas”. At that time Texas was part of Mexico, and, was becoming the safe-haven for many Americans escaping their past. “The slogan…had become a popular expression for those people who committed crimes or owed money or just did not want to be found. When bill collectors went looking for defaulters and found an empty house the realized those they sought had absconded and gone to Texas. It became common that when a Grand Jury returned indictments but the sheriff had no luck bringing in the accused, he would report back that they had gone to Texas. When the banker rifled the vaults of his institution and made a successful getaway, he too, was gone to Texas.”
Our man Jonah could have written GTT on his door as well, although instead of Texas, his would have meant “Gone to Tarshish” (1:3). His motive was the same though: getting away from his responsibility in his own land. Now Jonah’s problem was that he was running from God, and, you can’t hide from God – and you can only run for a little while before He hauls you in. Chapter 2 is where God hauls Jonah in.
Why is this chapter important? For one thing, it connects the events of chapter 1 with chapter 3. We saw Jonah run away from Ninevah in chapter 1 but chapter 3 shows him in Ninevah. How did that happen? Chapter 2 tells us.
But, this past week another reason came to my mind why chapter 2 is crucial: Jonah needed to have something in common with the people he was going to preach to. He needed to experience something of the terrors of God’s judgment, the helplessness of being swallowed up in death, and most importantly, the mercy of God.
Now here’s why this is important: Jonah needed to know by experience what it meant to be under God’s judgment, on the verge of death, and be rescued by God’s mercy. Jonah needed to know what that was like and in going through this whole trial God taught him exactly what the Ninevites needed to learn. They were under God’s judgment, they were going to be destroyed, and if they turned to call on God for deliverance He would have mercy on them. Jonah, now had something in common with his enemy. Jonah now had something for his enemy.
Chapter 2 I’ve broken into 3.5 points: 1) God’s Discipline, 2) God’s Deliverance, 3) God Devotion, and 3.5) God Do-Overs. We covered 1 last week so lets finish the other points this week.
GOD’S DELIVERANCE (v2, 7)
From God’s Discipline we now see God’s Deliverance. Read verse 2 and 7 and listen to Jonah describe how God delivers him “….”
First: essential to how we understand God is to understand Him as our Deliverer. To say it another way: Unless we are seeing God as our Deliverer we simply are not seeing Him. This is the Biblical way of seeing God. Psalm 18:2, “The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer.” Psalm 140:7 calls God “O Sovereign LORD, my strong deliverer.” The Lord’s Prayer itself reinforces the fact that God is the Deliverer: “Lead us not into temptation, but, deliver us from the evil one.”
The idea of a Deliverance in the Bible means to be safely removed from a situation of danger: the Israelites delivered from Pharoah’s army at the Red Sea; Noah delivered from the Flood; Moses delivered in a basket; Daniel from the lions; the 3 Hebrews from the fiery furnace; Peter delivered by Jesus’ hand when he was sinking in the water; the disciples in the boat when Jesus rebuked the storm; a soccer team rescued from a cave in Thailand; Jonah delivered from drowning by a giant fish.
The Bible wants us to see God as our Deliverer.
Second, God is Able to Deliver. Jonah says in verse 6, “You brought my life up from the pit” and verse 9, “Salvation comes from the Lord” that is Deliverance comes from the Lord. There are plenty of people today who think too small of thoughts of God – even among Christians. God often speaks of the power of His right arm, but, many speak of His arm as weak – and they do this when they talk about God’s inability and ineffectiveness, as though He can’t do things.
But the fact is that there is no depth from which God cannot pull a person up to safety. There is no danger from which God cannot spirit us away.
Jonah says he was rescued from the depths of the grave, literally translated as “the belly of Sheol”, Sheol being the place where the dead went in the OT. Jonah didn’t actually die – that’s not what he’s saying. He’s saying he was within inches of death, that there was no human way to avoid a certain death, and so he was as good as dead. Other OT writers talk like this too. In Lamentations 3:55 it says, “I called to your name O Lord, from the depths of the pit”. Psalm 130:1 says, “Out of the depths I cry to You O Lord.”
The people in Scripture called on the Lord, He heard their call, and He saved them. He delivered them.
God will deliver us safely to His kingdom. Romans 8:35-39.
Third, we must Call on God for Deliverance God didn’t deliver anyone during the storm in chapter 1 because no one called on Him. The sailors were praying to idols and Jonah wasn’t praying at all. Had Jonah prayed, however, God would have delivered them. That’s why its important you notice that Jonah says God heard him. He says “You answered me” and “You listened to my cry”.
That’s why this is a Psalm of Thanksgiving: the fish is not the instrument of Judgment – that was the sea. The fish instead is God’s instrument of mercy. Without the fish Jonah would have drowned.
Application: God is the Great Deliverer. He hears the call of those who put their trust in Him and He answers them. The God of Jonah contrasts sharply with the gods of the sailors in chapter 1: the prayers of the sailors were met with silence. Their gods – which are nothing but idols, not gods at all – they did not “hear” their calls. They did not come to their rescue. But the God of Israel, the LORD ALMIGHTY, He heard Jonah. He heard him all the way deep down in the sea too. Let this be a lesson that you are never too far down that your sincere cry to God will not reach His ears.
Application: The most important way in which you need to be delivered is from your sins. You are in danger today not from a storm, not from financial ruin, not from relational breakdowns, not from an insecure employment, not from a purposeless life – you are in danger of the wrath of God. Your sins are incurring God’s wrath towards you. His righteous anger towards all that is unholy in you is being stirred up and a storm of judgment awaits you. You are not an object of His affection while you keep going in your evil ways, with your heart running after everything under the sun and while you live totally carefree of God’s holiness. God Fear Him, Jesus said, who after killing the has power to throw you into hell. He was talking about God.
GOD DEVOTION (v7-9)
God’s discipline was followed by God’s deliverance and now God Devotion appears. Read verses 8-9 with me, “….”
Notice the elements of devotion to God: remembering the Lord, prayer, forsaking idols, receiving grace, thankfulness, sacrifice, follow-thru on commitment to God, and acknowledging that salvation comes from the Lord.
It makes sense. The worshipper worships the Divine Deliverer. A man bows before the One who rescues him. The sailors did it. Now, Jonah, the prophet of Yahweh finally gets back on track with doing it.
Arising out of divine deliverance we also see human praise. Moses’ song after the Red Sea is a great example of this in Exodus 15:1-7, 11. [Turn and read]
This devotional life is birthed out of a recognition that God has delivered you. It is not something that is done to be saved, but, it is done knowing you are saved. One is human effort and seeking to earn points before God, the other is knowing that points cannot be earned with God and salvation is simply a free gift God gives that you have received. Seize that gift!
3.5: God Do-Overs (v10)
Finally, in verse 10 Jonah gets a do-over. Read verse 10, “….” After 3 days in a fish’s belly Jonah is looking for a second chance to obey. In chapter 1 we saw that Jonah thought the consequences of disobedience were better than the results of obedience. Jonah would rather die in a storm at sea than see the Ninevites receive God’s mercy. Now, in chapter 2 we see Jonah would rather obey than go any further with this misery God was putting him through. So, Jonah laces up his sandals, sets his face towards Ninevah, and starts walking. We’ll see what happens next week in chapter 3.
Are you in a storm? Could it be that God is behind your storm? If so, He may be stripping away everything around you that you want to keep your eyes focused on. He may be causing things you look to for stability, identity, security to crumble because they keep you from looking to Him. He’s the One who stabilizes you, He’s the One who defines you; He’s the One who protects you. He is also the One who saves you. Have you turned to Him for your Deliverance? He has sent a Rescuer – the Lord Jesus Christ.