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Bible Commentaries

Bell's Commentary on the Bible

Jonah 2

Verses 1-10

  1. TO BOUNCE BACK...CRY OUT (1)
    1. Let’s go inside Jonah’s living prayer closet, inside his living tomb.
    2. Imagine…
      1. What does it smell like in there? (Seaweed, rotten food, salty, stale water)
      2. What does it feel like in there? (Slimy, slippery, wet, warm)
      3. What does it look like in there? (pitch black. prob not like Geppetto/lamp)
      4. What could he hear in there? (Gurgling, digestive noises, whale gas)
    3. C. S. Lewis said, A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you’re looking down, you can’t see something that’s above you.
      1. Jonah had turned his gaze away from God, to himself. When he hits bottom, he begins to look up.
    4. Lots of people say they don’t have time to pray.
      1. You find time to pray when you hit bottom. When trouble grinds your life to a halt, when you become desperate to figure out what to do, suddenly you find time to pray. When you get sick or hurt and you don’t know when you’ll get better, you’ll find time to pray. When the seeds of your disobedience produce a harvest of chastisement, suddenly, you find time to talk to the Lord. When the devil whispers that you’ve gone too far, that you have no hope, that you might as well give up and get it over with, then it’s time to look up in prayer to God.
      2. When you hit bottom it’s not time to wallow in self-pity.
        1. Are you here? - It may be as serious as a divorce, parents, kids, house loss, work, school, ministry.
        2. The wonderful truth is even when you’ve hit bottom, He still hears your prayers.
      3. Jerry Levin was assigned as Middle East bureau chief for CNN. He viewed his assignment as a new adventure. But his adventure took a turn for the worst when in 1983 Jerry felt a light tap on his shoulder. A short bearded man in his early twenties pushed a green handgun into his stomach. 2 1/2 hours later he was led into a building and shoved into a room, where they shackled his right arm to a radiator, and then they left. Jerry waited and listened; he was alone. He was a Hezbollah Hostage. Days passed in a blur of monotony and fear. It was here that the most remarkable thing happened. Jerry prayed for the first time in years. He prayed to God, and to Jesus, and he prayed "God, please forgive men like these," he prayed, "because they are in part responsible for bringing me to You and Your Son." Jerry realized…God used his imprisonment to get his attention.
      4. Ps.116:3,4 The pains of death surrounded me, And the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me; I found trouble and sorrow. Then I called upon the name of the Lord: “O Lord, I implore You, deliver my soul!”
    5. To bounce back from the bottom, you begin by crying out to the Lord in prayer. But Jonah shows us when we hit bottom we also need to...Ask 3 Questions…
  2. TO BOUNCE BACK...ASK 3 QUESTIONS (2-9a)
    1. Jonah doesn’t really ask God for anything. Instead, he asks himself 3 very important questions:
      1. Where am I?
        1. Jonah expects to drown soon after hitting the water, yet he finds himself alive. But where does he picture himself?
        2. (2) Out of the belly of Sheol I cried - (not really in the place of death but in the fear of it for sure)
        3. Sheol = the place of the dead. Jonah compares being in the deep blue sea in the dark belly of the great fish to being buried in the grave.
          1. Jonah is in a hard place, a place of punishment, a dark place, but not a hopeless place.
          2. He’s at the bottom, but he’s not done yet. I’m down, but I’m not out.
    2. ​​​​​​​How did I get here?
      1. ​​​​​​​(3a) For You cast me into the deep, Into the heart of the seas.
        1. Jonah realizes God brought him to the bottom.
        2. He didn’t get here by chance, but by divine providence.
        3. Remember...you’re only God’s prisoner. Never a prisoner of sailors, a fish, the sea, nor of a prison itself. Eph.3:1 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord.
        4. God sent Jonah to the bottom to give him a little more time to think, to give him another chance to make the right decision.
        5. Jonah is still able to choose, but he also is able to understand the truth: God brought me here to help me, not destroy me.
    3. What’s my next move? Jonah faces choices & chooses wisely.
      1. (4) Yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.
      2. (7) When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord…
      3. (9) But I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed.
      4. Jonah is ready to sacrifice - to give up his own will for God’s will.
      5. Instead of running from God’s presence, Jonah begins to seek God’s presence.
    4. If you want to bounce back after you hit bottom, you need to come to ask the same 3 questions:
      1. Where am I?
        1. ​​​​​​​At the bottom things can look pretty dark. You can look around you and decide you’ve finally gotten to the place where there’s no help or hope for you.
        2. It’d be easy to lay down and give up.
        3. It’d be better to realize what Jonah did...I’m down but I’m not out.
        4. I may be at the bottom, but this is not the place to quit…It’d be better to learn courage, patience and persistence.
      2. How did I get here?
        1. ​​​​​​​Jonah is at the bottom because he’s running from God.
        2. Not everyone is there for that reason.
          1. Maybe it’s your own fault, or somebody else’s fault. Maybe it’s nobody’s fault; just one of those unexplainable things that happen.
          2. But in the bigger picture, you need to understand that behind everything that happens to you, God is at work.
          3. He often brings us to the bottom like He did Jonah, not to destroy us, but to help us.
          4. If you are a child of God nothing happens to you by accident, but only through God’s plan and purpose.
      3. What’s my next move?
        1. ​​​​​​​Do what Jonah did...turn to the Lord.
        2. If you’re at the bottom because of disobedience, you need to confess your sin and repent.
        3. Disobedience might not be the reason you’ve hit bottom, but you still need to turn to the Lord.
          1. You need to come to an understanding that just because you’ve hit bottom doesn’t mean God has abandoned you.
          2. You can still turn to Him for comfort, turn to Him for strength, turn to Him for wisdom and guidance.
            1. Too often folks who hit bottom become bitter and angry, instead of turning to the Lord. Don’t let that happen to you.
            2. Turn to Him & remember that even in the deepest darkness, Jesus walks w/you.
        4. Corrie ten Boom, When the train goes through a tunnel & the world gets dark, do you jump out? Of course not. You sit still & trust the engineer to get you through.
      4. Bouncing back after hitting bottom involves: Cry out in prayer, asking 3 questions, & finally…
  3. TO BOUNCE BACK...EXPECT HIS HAND OF HELP (9b-10)
    1. ​​​​​​​(8) This verse showcases his self-rt pride as he notes their worthless idols vs. his sacrifice of thanksgiving. [note: never says sorry, never confesses sin, never omits wrong doing]
      1. We know he says, ok God I’ll do it...but we know the heart isn’t fully fixed (from ch.4)
      2. Idol...anything you value more than God.
        1. The human heart is an idol making factory. John Calvin
        2. “The pain you are experiencing is God prying open your hands to take back all the gifts you are holding more dearly than Him.” Tim Keller
      3. Instead of locating our identity in Christ, we locate our identity in things smaller than Christ. - Your role. Your reputation. your Spot. Your spouse.
    2. Why do you think God answered Jonah’s prayer then?
      1. God’s love for Jonah. Gods compassion on the Ninevites. God’s Grace…period.
    3. (9) Salvation is of the Lord - If God owned a Tee-shirt I believe on the front it would say Search & on the back it would say Rescue. (Search & Rescue)
      1. Salvation both spiritually/salvation & physically/deliverance.
      2. Salvation is a gift of God & not an achievement of man.
    4. Slide#24 (10) So the Lord spoke to the fish, & it vomited Jonah onto dry land - Isn’t this the greatest show of God’s Grace to Jonah...in which end he came out of the great fish???
    5. When you hit bottom, sometimes you wonder if you’ll ever bounce back.
    6. Jonah figures out where he is, why he’s there, and what his next move is, but he also knows if he is ever going to see the light of day again, it will be because God rescues him.
    7. In his book, A Sacred Sorrow, Michael Card writes, “Lament is one of the most direct paths to the true praise we know we have lost. In fact, lament is not a path to worship, but the path of worship.”
    8. Slide#25 My Poem: Jonah 2
      1. Into the Deep, No more Sleep. Whale Breath, Almost my Death.
        Out of sight, But not out of Gods. Watery Grave, What’s my Odds?
        Warm seaweed all mooshy. I feel like human Sushi.

        3 nights & 3 days. From the belly I prayed.
        God a Shaker & Mover. Did a Whale Heimlich Maneuver.
        Oh, to again Kiss the Dust. I guess for me...it’s Nineveh or Bust.
    9. Jesus died for us so we can be rescued from the pit of sin.
      1. Let me also add that there is no pit in life He cannot save you from if you will trust Him.
    10. The most important thing you need to remember when you hit bottom is not how far you’ve fallen or how impossible your situation seems. The most important thing to remember is Who can rescue you from the pit.
    11. A man fell into a pit and try as he did, he could not get out. A counselor came along and said, "I feel your pain."

      A Logic professor came along and said, "It's logical that someone would fall down there." A politician pledged to appoint a committee to work on how to help people out of pits.

      A Pharisee walked by and said, "Only bad people fall into a pit."
      A news reporter promised the exclusive story on the plight of those who fall into pits.
      An IRS collector
      asked if he was paying taxes on the pit.

      A TV evangelist said, "Just confess that you're not in a pit."
      An optimist
      said, "Things could be worse."
      A pessimist said, "Things will get worse."

      But then Jesus came by, and seeing the man, took him by the hand and lifted him out of the pit.
      1. ​​​​​​​If you live long enough, you will find yourself at the bottom. The bottom may fall out for you financially, or emotionally, or spiritually, but it will come. Everybody spends time at the bottom. The important thing to know is how to bounce back from the bottom.
      2. He is completely and utterly helpless to save himself; God must save him.
        1. The old hymn expresses it this way:

          I was sinking deep in sin, Far from the peaceful shore,
          Very deeply stained within, Sinking to rise no more;
          But the Master of the sea, Heard my despairing cry,
          From the waters lifted me - Now safe am I.

          Love lifted me, Love lifted me; When nothing else could help Love lifted me.
      3. Jonah has shown us how to do this: by Crying out in prayer, by asking 3 questions, by Expecting His Hand of Help [Or by turning to & trusting in the Lord to save/deliver you]
    12. Do you need help getting out of your pit today? Why not call out to the Lord and let Him lift you up?
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Jonah 2". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/jonah-2.html. 2017.