Jonah (4 of 7) Jonah In The Belly Of The Whale

2:1-10 Jonah In The Belly Of The Whale

Memory Verse: Jonah 2:9

2:1-7 God Gets Jonah’s Attention

  • 1:1-17 Jonah was a prophet of the God of heaven. He received a commission from God to immediately leave his home and go to Nineveh and cry against it—because their wickedness had come before the Lord. Jonah disobeys God and tries to flee from the presence of the Lord on a boat going the opposite direction. Then God sent a storm. The sailors were helpless in the middle of the storm. Jonah finally confessed to the sailors that the storm was because of his sin against God. He tells them to throw him overboard. Reluctantly, and fearfully, they throw Jonah over board. The Lord prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. Jonah would be in the fish’s belly for three days and three nights.
  • 2:1 Jonah finds himself in the belly of a great fish. We don’t know what type of “great fish” this is. But we do know this story is literal truth and not just an allegory. This was a great fish that was directed by God who made it possible for Jonah to be able to survive in its belly for three days and three nights. When Jonah told the others to cast him overboard, he didn’t know what was going to happen and I image he was expecting death. But he didn’t die. God rescued him in the most unusual way. To Jonah it would seem he was in a worse situation than when he was in the storm on the boat. He is now in an awful, dark, wet, uncomfortable, constricted, hellish place. He can no longer ignore his predicament by sleeping it away. God has Jonah’s attention and from the great fish’s belly Jonah prays unto the Lord his God—Jonah never reject God as Lord, but was running from His will for his life. Is God using your circumstances to get your attention? Do you need to pray?

2:1-7 Jonah Prays To God

  • 2:2 Jonah finally cries out to God and God hears him. Jonah’s affliction—all that he has gone through—from the storm to being thrown overboard and swallowed by a great fish—has caused him to turn back to God. Jonah’s situation continued to get worse. He ran from God boarding a ship going the opposite way of God’s will. He tried to hide and sleep in the bowels of the ship. He was discovered and thrown overboard by the others on the boat. Then a great fish swallowed him and now he is in “the belly of hell”—which is a hyperbolic meaning of being in the fish’s belly, an awful place, and being close to death. It is from here that he cried out to God and God heard Jonah’s voice. It doesn’t matter how far you have run from God or what your circumstances are, you can cry out to Him and He will hear you. Prayer can be made anywhere and at anytime.
    Psalms 18:5-6; 28:1-2; 120:1; 130:1-2
  • 2:3 Jonah recognizes God’s sovereign judgement in the events that have led up to where he is. He describes his experience in the water and recognizes God’s hand in it. It was God who allowed him to be cast “into the deep, in the midst of the seas”. It was God who allowed the “floods” to surround him. It was all God’s billows and waves that passed over Jonah. Maybe like Jonah, you feel you are drowning, but are the waters being controlled by the hand of God? Are you recognizing God in the midst of your troubles?
    Psalms 42:7; 88:6-7
  • 2:4 In the midst of the ocean, Jonah thought that he was cast out of God’s sight. He knew he did wrong and he thought drowning in the ocean was his final judgement for rebelling against God’s will for his life. But thoughts of doom were quickly replaced with thoughts of faith—that is Jonah decided in the midst of his judgement to look again toward God’s holy temple. The temple represented God’s presence among His people and the place of atonement. Jonah was ready to repent and turn his attention or direct his hope back towards God. The temple was a “type” of Jesus. Today, we don’t turn to the temple but to Jesus, who is God and who is our atonement. If you are wanting to turn from despair back to hope, then you need to look again to Jesus—the author and finisher of our faith.
    Psalms 18:6; 28:2; 31:22; Hebrews 12:1-2
  • 2:5-6 Jonah again describes his hopeless situation. After he was cast overboard, the waters closed in over him, even to the soul—meaning almost to the point of death. The depth surrounded him as he sunk deeper into the waters. Seaweed started to wrap around his head. He was down at the bottoms of the mountains—the bottom of the sea. To Jonah he felt the earth had her bars around him forever—there was no way to return to dry land but he was held prisoner at the bottom of the sea. Jonah was in a hopeless situation. But God decided to rescue Jonah. He brought up his life from corruption. Jonah didn’t deserve to be rescued, but God had mercy. Jonah returns to the Lord his God.
    Psalms 18:5, 15; 30:3; 69:1-2
  • 2:7 Jonah was completely overwhelmed. When his soul fainted within him—both physically and spiritually exhausted—Jonah remembered the Lord. Jonah’s prayer came in unto God, into His holy temple. God heard Jonah and answered his prayer. Are you both physically and spiritually exhausted from running from God’s will for your life? Cry out to God. It is not too late. He will hear you.
    Psalms 11:4; 18:6; 142:3; 143:4

2:8-10 Jonah’s Pivotal Turning Point

  • 2:8 Jonah finally comes to a conclusion and summarizes what he has been taught through this experience. He first states those who “observe lying vanities” or those who worship false idols (like the sailers) “forsake their own mercy”—meaning that clinging to anything apart from the true God is to forsake the only One who can show you true mercy.
    Psalms 31:6
  • 2:9 He then contrasts that with himself, saying that: (1) He will sacrifice unto the true God with the voice of thanksgiving—Jonah would cling to God and His mercy with the heart of thanksgiving instead of the rebellious attitude that he had. (2) He will pay that which he has vowed—Jonah was ready to serve again. (3) Salvation is of the Lord—Jonah concluded that true salvation comes from the sovereign true God—this is what He does and to be against it is to be against God. This is one of the main points of this book: people are perishing (the Ninevites, the sailors, Jonah) but God can and will save.
    Psalms 3:8; 42:5; 50:14; 66:13-14; 118:14, 21
  • 2:10 Finally, Jonah by the chastening hand of a loving God learned his lesson and turned back to God. God then spoke to the fish and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land. Jonah was broken, humbled, but given a second chance. Maybe you are like Jonah. God has been breaking you of your pride and sin. Maybe you feel you are at the bottom of the ocean or in “the belly of hell”. Today, you have a chance to turn to the Lord of Salvation.

Review Questions

  • How did God get Jonah’s attention?
  • What did Jonah do in response?
  • Why did it seem that Jonah’s situation was hopeless?
  • What was Jonah’s conclusion?
  • What happened to Jonah at the end?

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