We are not told what Jonah had promised to God, but it must have been something along the lines of agreeing to speak out whatever prophetic message the Lord gave to him. Many of us have made promises to God and this prayer of Jonah is a reminder for us to review those vows.
(Please start by reading Jonah 2)
|Source: Bret Hammond|
There are many other seafaring yarns and hoaxes which don’t allow the facts to get in the way of a good story, and the name Jonah is still considered to be bad luck to any seafaring crew. But let us look at the Biblical account. It says at the end of chapter 1 that the Lord appointed/prepared/provided a great fish to swallow Jonah. So why should we doubt that God, who created all things (Jonah 1:9), is able to make whatever sea creature He wants to fulfil His purposes at the exact time of His choosing?
At this point we should overlook some of the Sunday school stories and pre-conceived ideas and look at the text. It seems to me from the language that Jonah actually died and was then resuscitated; ‘out of the belly of Sheol’ (Jonah 2:2) – Sheol in every other scripture is the place of the dead; ‘The waters closed in over me to take my life’ (Jonah 2:5) – drowning; ‘at the roots of the mountains’ (Jonah 2:6a) – deep sea; ‘I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me forever' (Jonah 2:6b)’ – no return, but…‘yet you brought up my life from the pit’(Jonah 2:6c). This is the language of one who has passed away but has been brought back again for a purpose.
So, Jonah was a sign. He brought a message of repentance to bad people, but he himself had to die and be restored to life to demonstrate God’s authority over life and death. God confirms His Word with miracles. This sign points forward to Jesus who was to die on behalf of sinners and to be raised, not just for a few more years but for all eternity, into heaven, in the presence of God on our behalf (Hebrews 9:24).
Jonah ran away from the presence of God and died trying to spare his own people of Israel from the ravages of the Assyrians. He was brought back to preach repentance to those undeserving of mercy. Jesus died bearing the burden of all the sins of all mankind. He was resurrected and restored to glory where He intercedes for us (Hebrews 7:25). Jonah’s was a brief restoration to temporal existence, possibly bearing the evidence of his ordeal, but Jesus was resurrected to his new body, permanent and indestructible, yet still bearing the marks of His suffering. Nevertheless, Jonah became a sign of greater things to come.
Hidden in that dark, cold and lonely place Jonah repented saying in Jonah 2:9 ‘what I have vowed I will pay’. We are not told what he had promised to God, but it must have been something along the lines of agreeing to speak out whatever prophetic message the Lord gave to him. Many of us have made promises to God and this prayer of Jonah is a reminder for us to review those vows.
The moment Jonah repented and vowed to pay up on his promise the power of heaven came down and the shout ‘salvation belongs to the Lord’ went up, the fish heard the voice of its Creator, spat out the prophet, and Jonah was back on dry land.
Next week: Nineveh – Innocent or Guilty?
Author: John Plumb
May God bless and enrich your life
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