Jonah Chapter TWO

Teach us, Heavenly Father, to have faith, even in dire distress, even when all seems lost. Oh, Lord, that we would have the ‘faith of a mustard seed’ so that, like Jonah, when all is lost, we still trust You.”

2 Then Jonah prayed to Yahweh, his God, out of the fish’s belly. He said, “I called because of my affliction to Yahweh.
    He answered me.
Out of the belly of Sheol[a] I cried.
    You heard my voice.
For you threw me into the depths,
    in the heart of the seas.
The flood was all around me.
    All your waves and your billows passed over me.
I said, ‘I have been banished from your sight;
    yet I will look again toward your holy temple.’
The waters surrounded me,
    even to the soul.
The deep was around me.
    The weeds were wrapped around my head.
I went down to the bottoms of the mountains.
    The earth barred me in forever:
    yet have you brought up my life from the pit, Yahweh my God. “When my soul fainted within me, I remembered Yahweh.
    My prayer came in to you, into your holy temple.
Those who regard lying vanities forsake their own mercy.
    But I will sacrifice to you with the voice of thanksgiving.
    I will pay that which I have vowed.
Salvation belongs to Yahweh.” 10 Then Yahweh spoke to the fish, and it vomited out Jonah on the dry land. LINK to WEB

John Calvin’s comments are very helpful here. True, he is rather wordy, but what he says about ch.2 vs.1 was enlightening to me. Jonah is no fool. He maintains his faith. That’s one reason he could sleep through the storm. It’s most evident in his prayer. This is a Psalm, the prayer of a desperate man. We have been there, in deep dark anguish, as if we were in the belly of a big fish. And, if we follow Jonah’s example, we will maintain our faith. 

From the beginning, back in Genesis, The Lord showed His Love for us in creating the ‘perfect’ place for us. His only requirement was to Love Him and through our Love for God we would be obedient to Him, because He knew the dangers of giving us Free Will.*  And that proves to be the hardest thing for us to do. We see it in little children: they disobey even the best and safest of commands. “Don’t touch that hot stove” we tell them. And, as soon as we half turn our back to them, they reach out in rebellion and defiance. And, even though the stove burns severely, it is not the burn that hurts the most.

However, in spite of the hot stove, we maintain our rebellion:

Some of us turn to “magic” in an effort to manipulate the world to our desires.

Some of us turn to false gods, gods we can beg and wheedle and bribe in our attempt to manipulate the world.

Some of us decide that there is no deity, no resource beyond ourselves, and we ignore all that we cannot manipulate.

Some of us blame others: “It’s their fault” we say.

Some of us just run away. We know what God requires*. “Love God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself.” We can claim that we love God; it’s that neighbor bit that we claim is the problem.

But God is merciful. He sends a big fish to swallow us whole. It is deep in the ‘belly of the fish’ that we must finally submit. It it deep in the ‘belly of the fish’ that we must decide to obey or die. There is no other way.

Jonah is a true Prophet of God. He knows all of this. He ran away because he knew that he could not manipulate God. But, apparently, it took three days for Jonah to be willing to admit that he, Jonah, was disobedient and thus responsible. God will not be manipulated. Look at Psalm ONE and Psalm TWO. Your pitiful little arguments about why your life should be different will amuse Him. Just as your own children’s pitiful excuses make you laugh.

We want a god that will do as we desire. We need a God that will send a big fish.—The glorious news is that He sent His Own Son to us instead. You see, He really does Love us.

 

*Matthew 22:34-40 The two greatest commandments. A very short summary of the theological labyrinth that is “Free Will” can be found at this Focus on the Family link. 

If you really want to go to the source, then check out this link to the free PDF file of Peter King’s translation of St. Augustine’s discussion of Free Will, Grace and Free Choice. I am trying to read it and I find it very demanding. It is my understanding that John Calvin developed much of his theology from the writings of St. Augustine.

 

 

 

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