The story of Jonah has become personally important to me. It tells me of a hiding professed christian in this world of sin. God has given us the commission to go to the world and to warn them about things to come and to invite them to take part in his salvation to spare them from certain destruction.
But Jonah he rose up to flee from the presence of the Lord. This reminds me of Adam and Eve after they had sinned they hid themselves from the presence of the Lord. That is what sin makes us do. It causes guilt and makes us hide from God. It separates us from God.
Jonah hid from God in a big way. He found a ship going in the opposite direction of the direction God wanted him to go. And then he goes into the bottom of the ship in falls fast asleep. I think often times we are tempted to still be a part of church life, or the ship so to speak, and because we do not fit want to face our sins we hide in the bottom. We let the ship rock us to sleep. We stop letting the Lord speak to our conscience. eventually we end up with a dead conscience.. Often times the only way God can wake us up is with a storm in our life which is exactly what happened to Jonah.
The Lord sent a great storm was such a mighty tempest that the ship was almost broken. We are warned that at the end of time there will be a flood or a storm so to speak. Something that shakes us and those around us up to the core! Something that frightens the whole world. To the point that the world begins to pray to their gods. But nothing that they do can calm the storm. Well in the case of Jonah the sailors were praying to their gods to save them but nothing was happening.
And then they found Jonah fast asleep in the bottom of the ship. And they said why don’t you pray to your God to save us Jonah. It doesn’t say why Jonah did not pray, but if you’ve ever been in a place where you were hiding from God, it’s very hard to pray when you know that you’re hiding something from the Heart Reader.
Well before Jonah ever begins to pray, they decide to cast lots to see who is the cause of the evil that is come upon them. And the lot fell on Jonah. So they asked him tell us who is cause if this evil that is upon us and what is your occupation?
Where do you come from? And of what people are you? Well now Jonah has to rediscover who he is. He tells them I am a Hebrew. My occupation is that I fear the Lord the God of heaven. But Jonah also tells them the truth, that he had divorced himself or separated himself from God and he was hiding from his occupation of preaching to Nineveh and hiding from his God. Jonah is exposed.
So the men tell Jonah what shall we do to you that the sea might be calm again to us.? Jonah realizes that he is the epitome of sin. He has done the same as Adam and Eve. He has denied his God and he has separated himself from Him. He knows that he is sin. And so he tells them take me up cast me forth into the sea and then the sea will be calm to you for I know that because of me is this great tempest upon you. Well the men did not want to do it but they ended up doing it for to save their lives.. They took Jonah, the embodiment of sin and they cast him into the sea and immediately the sea ceased its raging.
Now here Jonah’s life must remind us of Jesus Christ. For Christ himself told us that Jonah was a type of Christ. The Bible says that Jesus Christ became sin for us. How does one get rid of sin? Sin causes its own distraction. The wages of sin is death.. But He who knew no sin became sin for us. We are all doomed to die the death of Jonah.
The Bible says that Jonah was cast into the sea but that God had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. Jonah says “out of the belly of hell (the grave ) cried I and Thou hearest my voice. You see the only way to get rid of sin is to die. And because we are human we cannot give ourselves life again. And we especially cannot give ourselves eternal life. Jesus was not just a human he was also God. As a human He died the death for our sins.. He was separated from God. The Bible says Jonah “went down to the bottoms of the mountains the earth with her bars was about to me forever yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O Lord my God.” This is what Jesus did for us.
Jonah in the belly of the whale finds himself in a very humiliating position. It was a suicide mission. It was exactly the right place to be. Jesus says, “he that will come after me must take up his cross daily and follow me.” It is death to self. It is the best place to be with God! This is the place where our “old man is crucified with Christ that the body of sin might be destroyed that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ we believe that we shall also live with him.” This is where God can resurrect us back to life! This is the place of mercy! This is where Jonah begins to pray again. This is the place that brings us back into communion or connection with God! This is the place we understand our need for God, for salvation, for life.
The fish vomits Jonah up onto the very shore of Jonah’s commission.. Jonah is now free from his prison of death to do his commission. Filled with the spirit or presence and life of God, Jonah’s preaching takes on new power, the power of God to convict hearts. The people repent and are spared.
Friend, perhaps your sins have separated you from God. Perhaps you have been hiding from Christ. Perhaps all around you people are experiencing a storm or flood of trouble. Perhaps you have found yourself dead to Christ, asleep to the spirits conviction. You find yourself with no power to help those in need around you.. Christ prayer for you is that you will find yourself in the belly of the whale with Him. He has power to save you, to revive you. He wants to commune with you and to go with you!