Tuesday after Quasimodogeniti
Scripture: Jonah 1:17—2:10 (NKJV)
1:17 Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
2:1 Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the fish’s belly. 2 And he said:
“I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction, and He answered me. “Out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and You heard my voice.
3 For You cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the floods surrounded me; All Your billows and Your waves passed over me.
4 Then I said, ‘I have been cast out of Your sight; Yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.’
5 The waters surrounded me, even to my soul; The deep closed around me; Weeds were wrapped around my head.
6 I went down to the moorings of the mountains; The earth with its bars closed behind me forever; Yet You have brought up my life from the pit, O Lord, my God.
7 “When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord; And my prayer went up to You, into Your holy temple.
8 “Those who regard worthless idols forsake their own Mercy.
9 But I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord.”
10 So the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.
Yes, Jonah sinned by trying to flee from God and refusing to go to Nineveh. And, yes, Jonah pronounced his own rightly deserved punishment, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea.” After all, the wages of sin is death. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that Jonah was an unbeliever. The believer doesn’t lose his faith with every instance of sin.
Jonah’s prayer from the fish’s belly is an amazing faith-filled prayer asking for God’s merciful deliverance from his presently well-deserved affliction. Once the law had done its work, Jonah realized his sin. “I have been cast out of Your sight.”
Later Jonah says, “When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the LORD” (2:7). The Gospel words about a gracious and merciful Lord Who answers prayer and rescues, returns to Jonah. Despite the acknowledgement of his sin, he says, “Yet I will look again toward your holy temple” (verse 4). Jonah no longer flees from God, but reaches out in prayer for deliverance to the very God from Whom he was fleeing.
You, too, have deserved “His wrath and displeasure, temporal and eternal damnation.” Yet, if you hope to be saved, in Whom then do you trust? “In my dear Lord Jesus Christ. …He died for me and shed His blood for me on the cross for the forgiveness of sins.” The fruit produced by repentance is none other than the sacrifice of thanksgiving. Jonah admits that salvation is a free gift from God, which he will now willingly take to the Ninevites.
We pray: Almighty God, let me never forsake Your mercy. When I am disobedient, turn me back to You, the God of my salvation. Amen.