True believers can get themselves involved in serious sin, and with such sin can come serious consequences. How should you respond then? In despondent self-resignation? In prideful excuse of personal responsibility? No! Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up! He did with Jonah!
True believers will trust in the Lord. How should you express your trust in the Lord in the most trying of circumstances?
You Must Pray To The Sovereign God For Mercy (2:2-7)
True believers will express their trust in the Lord in the most trying of circumstances through prayer for mercy in the difficult time. True prayer involves trust in the Lord. How must I show such trust in prayer?
Know That God Will Hear Me No Matter How Difficult The Situation (2:2). It seems as if Jonah has really “hit bottom”—he was not merely in the jaws of death, he was in its digestive tract. This great fish is not known; was a definite miracle—God “appointed” that the fish would be at just the right place at just the right time. No situation is too “hard” for God to be heard by his people because of his unlimited power and relationship with his people. If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, show your trust in Him in difficult situations by praying to Him, knowing that He will hear you.
Recognize God’s Sovereign Hand In The Situation (2:3). Although the sailors physically cast Jonah into the sea, Jonah readily acknowledges that ultimate responsibility rests with God. Perhaps the most important aspect of v. 3 is Jonah’s testimony to God’s sovereignty. He saw God’s hand in being thrown into the sea and he saw the ‘waves and breakers’ that swept over him as tools in God’s hands.
Recognizing God’s sovereign hand helps us to remember that nothing happens apart from God’s purpose—whether he is actively involved in the situation or permits events to occur.
Submit To God’s Sovereign Discipline (2:4). Having earlier attempted to flee to Tarshish from God’s presence, Jonah now finds himself destined for the grave (Sheol). Jonah knew his plight was the consequence of disobeying and provoking God; he realized how terrible a thing it is to be apart from the presence of the Lord. He expresses his trust in the Lord by stating that he will pray again to the Lord from Jerusalem (“your holy temple”).
Trust God No Matter How Dark The Situation (2:5-7) Picture Jonah being cast overboard, struggling in the water as described in vv. 5-6a. Verse 6b provides a harrowing perspective – trapped, unable to escape, bars surrounding every potential exit. Once in the grave, Jonah would be forever imprisoned. All hope is lost. The weight of the water gave Jonah the sense of being entombed by the sea. These verses speak of great despair and utter hopelessness. Yet, Jonah expresses praise of God’s sovereign power (v. 6b).
How should you respond when your sovereign God brings you face to face with your sin? Part of a right response is prayer. When you as a believer are caught up in the consequences of your sin, don’t despair or give up; trust in the Lord through prayer,
- Knowing that God hears you
- Recognizing God’s sovereign hand in the situation
- Having an attitude of submission to his discipline
- Trusting him no matter how dark it seems
You Must Praise Your Sovereign God For His Mercy (2:8-9)
True believers will express their trust in the Lord in the most trying of circumstances not only through prayer for mercy, but when the prayer is answered the true believer will praise his God for that mercy.
True praise has a single object—the Lord God. What is involved in true praise to God?
Trust In God Alone, For Only He Shows Mercy (2:8). To look to anyone or anything else is “vain” and idolatrous. People – including believers – look to money, work, things, and even their families for help. In Jonah’s day, for an Israelite to do such a thing was to “forsake their faithfulness,” the blessings that were theirs through the covenant the Lord made with them—God’s faithfulness, goodness, and graciousness, the one true help for human beings.
Worship God Alone, For Only He Is Worthy (2:9). Worship involves sacrificial giving, thanksgiving, and commitment. Only the true God should receive these, and believers who have prayed for God’s mercy must worship him for the mercy they have received. While we do not offer sacrifices as they did during Old Testament times, believers in the Lord Jesus Christ still offer sacrifices:
- Our lives, Rom 12:1-2
- Our finances, Phil 4:18
- Our praise in song and testimony, Heb 13:15
- Good works, Heb 13:16
Look To God Alone, For Only He Can Save (2:10). People today look for deliverance from any sphere other than God. True deliverance, safety, and salvation is found only through the Lord. Here the emphasis is on the Lord’s sole sovereignty in the area of salvation. Jonah recognized that he deserved death, not deliverance. He knew that no one deserves salvation; it is an act of mercy by a gracious God.
The Bible tells us that any believer can become wrapped up in sin (Gal 2; 6:1-2; 1 John 1:9). The response of the true believer to his sin is renewed trust in the Lord expressed through prayer for mercy and praise for such mercy.
Don’t despair Christian—God may have you going through a challenging time, but it may be to help you learn to lean on no one else but the Lord Jesus Christ.
In whom do you trust?
Pastor Greenfield preached this message Sunday morning, August 26, 2007