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Jonah’s Leftovers // Jonah 2:1-4


Sovereign To SAVE // PETITION

"1Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish, 2saying, “I called out to the Lord, out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice. 3For you cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me; all your waves and your billows passed over me. 4Then I said, ‘I am driven away from your sight; yet I shall again look upon your holy temple.’ ~Jonah 2:1-4 ESV



As you approach chapter 2 of Jonah it can honestly get a little confusing as you read the entirety of the Petition as you try to make sense of Jonah’s prayer and language in context with his fishy-rescue from Jonah 1:17.
Based on Jonah’s language in chapter 2, this is the reason I do not read this section of Jonah entirely chronologically from A-Z. (It’s kind of like the book of Revelation for me in the sense that when I read Revelation I see it as 22 TV’s hanging on the wall at Best Buy; that are all playing the same movie but are all at different parts in that same movie.) That’s how I see Jonah 2:1-10.


Therefore, I think can be helpful – – if not just thought-provoking to read Jonah’s prayer in the following pattern:

JONAH 2:1-2 = (The Summary Statement [JONAH’S PRESENT]) This an overview of the events that goes,”From inside……to listened to my cry.” —This is a common Hebrew writing style. Genesis 1:1-2 does the same thing, with a summary statement up front and then there is a recap of those events unfolding after the summary. I’d encourage you to read Genesis 1:1-31 and then the rest of Genesis 1 to see this more clearly.
//sidenote// I recently watched a really awesome video series on Creationism V Evolution called: Genesis-Paradise Lost that walked through the opening of Genesis. I highly recommend this if you have 5$ and 2hrs to invest in that study.
Then in JONAH 2:3-6b = (Starts JONAH’S FLASHBACK + FUTURE [It’s JONAH’S PAST that looks to the FUTURE, and then back to the past]) Jonah’s looking back on his descent into the water, reflecting on what’s happened after he was thrown overboard, but before God sent the fish to rescue him from the depths. (C.2:4) Jonah looks toward the future… going from, “You hurled me into……toward your holy temple.’… “But you Lord….my life from the pit.”
Then finally in JONAH 2:7-10 = (It moves again into JONAH’S PRESENT again). Here it’s a different tone from Jonah: one of gratitude, praise and worship. Which brings us back to the present moment (no longer in a flashback). And it concludes with Jonah 2:10 as: YHWH causes the fish to toss his cookies (Jonah included) back, onto dry land. This goes from, “When my life was,”……to “and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.”
*for this writing style Jonah 2:1-10 reminds me of the movies, “Back To The Future,” as it jumps around on a timeline.


I do want to add at the start of this (and may continually add this lol)— If you believe this story to be fact OR fiction, that’s okay…and I think there’s room for both. After personally studying Jonah so far I can argue for both sides of it. But, it’s important for me to say this, because the whole point of Jonah doesn’t hinge on either historical or literary….the point of Jonah is about how God relentlessly pursues us despite our sin, and so the question we really need to think about is: How we are going to respond to God in our own rebellion?
—In the meantime, let us make room for some Holy Spirit mystery in this, (without ignoring the facts provided) as we continually lean on Him for guidance. The Holy Spirit can supersede an ancient writing style, with historical truth. And in the same way He can supplant history to explain His truths with literary devices. If you struggle with this phenomenon, don’t worry because basically so does every biblical scholar because they aren’t sure where to classically place Jonah.

THe prayer + The Place + THE PROMISE


"Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the belly of the fish," ~Jonah 2:1 ESV

So, there’s a very low probability this would happen to you..about 1 in a trillion of a chance, but it can happen and in fact it has happened (to a degree) even in our day. Check out this video below of 2 women kayakers in California who were swallowed and then spit back up by a whale. 

*There is some language in this video (understandably), so proof it before showing it to children.


I think we tend to treat the story of Jonah similarly in a “wrong way,” as the story of Noah. In the Sunday School version of the Ark we find animals smiling in 2×2’s, holding hands, high-fiving and marching up the ramp to the boat. It’s all portrayed as rainbows and sunshine as if Noah’s some sort of snow-white “piper-prophet,” bringing in the animals.

But… in the real story of Noah, what we we scarcely talk about are the terrifying aspects of the Ark. Countless people and animals die in the fierceness of God’s waters as he judges man.
Unfortunately we tend to treat Jonah like this as well; as if Jonah being “inside the belly of a fish,” is him playing checkers, sipping on his pumpkin spice latte, writing in his diary by candlelight.

Jonah's prayer

That’s NOT the picture the scriptures paint of this scene. Instead it’s cold and dark and tight and uncomfortable. It’s full of germs and who knows what else. At a minimum for Jonah here, this is distressing (V.2). At a maximum this is a nightmare!

Jonah is in the pitch black for 3 days, all alone – -without any clue what day or what time it is. He’s likely struggling to breathe. Jonah is probably thinking that he’s died, and is probably wondering if he is sitting in some sort of temporal or eternal place of punishment for his previous rebellious activities.
So what does he do? He prays (V.1) Jonah’s been running from God… God caught him and now Jonah’s having a meeting with Jesus. He’s BEEN RUNNING, and now he’s stuck in a spot he can’t get out of and now he’s TURNING to God…in prayer.


When Jonah turns to God in prayer, he’s embodying the essence of Biblical repentance.

King David by way of example from the Psalms demonstrates for us what Biblical repentance includes. —[Context] To this point he has committed adultery with Bathsheba, he’s had Uriah murdered, Bathsheba is pregnant, and Nathan the prophet has already come along and rebuked David in his sin. This Psalm sits alongside the infamous Psalm 51.

So, in Psalm 32:5a  David prays in his sin, “I acknowledged my sin to you…”

For us this shows us that: #1 – Repentance starts with recognition.
It’s when we’re able to recognize and acknowledge: “This is wrong. I have sinned. And my God is grieved.”
—The antithesis of recognition, is rationalization. This is when we play the victim and look for others to cut us slack in our sin, or blame-shift our sin onto others.
True repentance recognizes that it’s God who’s the victim of our sin.
2 Cor. 5:21 – Say’s it’s Jesus, “who had no sin that became sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
1 John 1:8, goes on to say in fact, “if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
We also see from David here that: #2 – Repentance opens up and (it) doesn’t cover up.
David goes on in Psalm 32:5b and says, “I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord, and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.”
Repentance isn’t looking to just “cut corners,” or find a “moral compromise,” but it comes totally clean; and nothing is held back.
Psalm 51:17 says, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”
I love this! Attrition is regret for your sin that sounds like: “Oh, no. I’ve been caught… now what’s gonna happen to me? I feel bad.” Contrition, on the other hand, is regret for the offense you’ve committed against God Himself; His love/plan/person and it’s when you feel pain for having grieved God the Holy Spirit in your sin.
For Jonah this is a painful and repentant prayer on a dark day.
//side-note// Biblical repentance isn’t about “torturing,” yourself or feeling “torment,” but it’s about transformation.
One Greek word used for repent in the scriptures is μετάνοια,  [metanoia], and the closest literal English meaning of that word is to have a change of mind, but maybe a better way to understand this is that you now, “Think differently..because there’s a better way.” Repentance is a change of heart + mind that ALWAYS leads to a change in actions. It’s when you realize your way isn’t the best way, and according to God there is a better way to do life.
John Calvin once said, “Repentance is not merely the start of the Christian life; it is the Christian life.”
Q1 / / Is repentance a regular practice in your life?
Q2 / / Men, are you the chief leader of repentance in your families? Do you take responsibility (for sin) like Jesus did on the cross or do you make excuses (for sin) like Adam did in the garden?


"saying, “I called out to the Lord, out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice. ~Jonah 2:2 ESV

So we know that Jonah is somewhere in the middle of the Mediterranean now and he’s at the express mercy of God in this moment, and he prays. But what’s weird about this prayer is that he immediately begins to recount having prayed to the LORD in a past tense. “I called,” “he answered,” “I cried,” “you heard.”

Not only is this a “prayer in the past tense,” but it’s also a “prayer from the past,” because this prayer that Jonah prayed is actually taken from the Psalms. 

is Jonah a "prayer plagiarizer?

There’s almost nothing in this prayer (Jonah 2:1-10) that’s original to Jonah, but it’s actually a stitching together of a whole bunch of other Psalms. 

//sidenote//—This is super important to note for next week that the writer of Jonah has put the songs of Israel into the mouth of Jonah; it helps us understand the “sea-weeds,” reference.

A1Jonah 2:2a – “He said, ‘In my distress I called to YHWH, and he answered me.”
A2 Psalm 18:6a – “In my distress I called to YHWH, I cried to my God for help.”
B1Jonah 2:5a – “The engulfing waters threatened me (Hebrew apah) the deep surrounded me;”
B2 Psalm 18:4 – “The cords of death entangled me (Hebrew apah); the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.”
C1Jonah 2:7b – “… and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple.”
C2Psalm 18:6b – “From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.”
You can even go back and read through Psalm 18 and Psalm 16 and see if you can pick up the parallels to Jonah 2  in the language, theme and style.
Here’s a breakdown if you really wanna dig in:
Jonah 2:2a = Psalm 18:6, 30:2, 118:5, 120:1
Jonah 2:2b = Psalm 130:1-2
Jonah 2:3b = Psalm 42:7b
Jonah 2:4a = Psalm 31:22a
Jonah 2:5a = Psalm 18:4, 69:2
Jonah 2:7a = Psalm 142:3, 143:4-5
Jonah 2:7b = Psalm 5:7b; 18:6b
Jonah 2:8 = Psalm 31:6a
Jonah 2:9a = Psalm 42:4b, 66:13
Jonah 2:9b = Psalm 3:8a

So, why does Jonah do this? Or, why does the author have Jonah doing this? I believe it’s because these Psalms are the words and the songs he would’ve grown up learning and memorizing and reciting with his family and in his community. It’s the words of God He would’ve hidden in his own heart that would’ve been able to communicate what was otherwise difficult to communicate in this devastating moment.

Q1 / / Are you hiding the WOG in your own heart? Are you hiding the WOG in the heart of those around you so the Holy Spirit can autopilot in difficult moments?

Q2 / / If your life’s not changing, I jw if your praying?
—-Because as Pastor Cody said a while back, “If you’re not prayin’– you’re playin’.”

Jonah's PLACE ~ part 1


"saying, “I called out to the Lord, out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice. ~Jonah 2:2 ESV

Jonah's Distressed

Jonah is distressed and he called out to the Lord from his distress.
Sometimes in the dark places we find ourselves in, we just want God to step in and “fix,” our problems. And definitely sometimes God does that and He miraculously steps in and dramatically changes our environment…but sometimes God will let you sink. Or God will let you sit in those dark places for a while so you can see Him. In THOSE moments your situation might not change but your countenance can as God brings His presence to your situation. See, sometimes God’s presence in the problem is even better than Him fixing the problem altogether.


Jonah remembers his sinking. As he said, “out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice.”
Jonah is saying, “From the deep, from the realm of dead I cried for help.” And as we read this we naturally ask: Is this literal? Or Metaphorical? Or Spiritual? Or Psychological? Or all of the above…..well, we don’t know for sure and it truly doesn’t matter. But, what does matter is that the lines between Jonah’s physical reality and the spiritual get really murky as soon as Jonah hits the water being tossed overboard by the mariners. Yet, right here in the beginning of the prayer we see that Jonah is calling for help FROM Sheol – – – “the house of the dead/the realm of the dead.”
Jonah’s drowning and journeying to the realm of the dead. In the Hebrew this is sometimes called Sheol and in the Greek it’s sometimes called Hades (remember, this is what’s happened pre-fish rescue).
Now, Sheol is a really vague and really undefined concept that shows up in the OT, but by the time of Jesus w/the NT the concept of Sheol had developed more concretely and in the NT it was understood to be the “bad,” place where the “wicked,” go, a place to be avoided if at all possible. Sheol, was this subterranean place where people would go to when they died. This concept is paralleled w/the development of the concept of heaven as the place where the “faithful,” go. And Sheol was a place of complete darkness, and gloom and silence. It was an endless pit that could never be “filled or satisfied,” – – – where no one who entered there could ever return.
By the middle ages Sheol’d developed into our modern understanding of “hell.” But, it’s important for us to understand when we read our OT that we don’t place our modern understanding of hell onto the idea of Sheol. In the OT it’s ambiguous in both specificity and actual description.
//sidenote// –There is, or was a “compartmentalization,” of some sort to this. On one side it was “bad,” and it’s sometimes described in generic terms as “Gehenna,” “Tarturus,””Sheol,” “Hades.”
And then there was a “good side,” sometimes referred to as, “Paradise,” “Abraham’s bosom,” or “The heavens.”—we see this most clearly in the NT in Luke 16 (pre-Jesus’ death/resurrection) with Lazarus’ resting in Paradise as the rich man is in Hades; but, there’s this great “chasm,” between the two.
Here’s what we know: Jonah was drowning or did drown and was descending to death after being thrown overboard.
John Piper has a great paper on his site on Sheol if you wanna dig deeper, check it out here:

Q1 // In the “deep and dark,” places you find yourself in, is God’s presence enough for you? 

Jonah's PLACE ~ part 2

VERSE 3 + 4a

"3For you cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me; all your waves and your billows passed over me. 4Then I said, ‘I am driven away from your sight." ~Jonah 2:3-4a ESV

ancient cosmology + GENESIS 7

Jonah’s descent features some key phrases in it I want you to notice: “The depths,” “the heart of the seas,” “the Deep.” The “water,” (as is often the case in the ancient world), symbolized a descent into chaos and death. This is often scary and troubling on a personal level, but this particular “water,” represented the very un-doing of creation on a cosmic level.
We see this “undoing of creation” most starkly in Genesis 7. It’s, no accident that God decided to use a flood to destroy the world that He created. God creates order from the chaos by taming the ancient waters called the tehom, or what’s translated in our Bibles here as “the deep.”
Think through this–In the very beginning, for creation to emerge, God has to hold back the tehom, which God does by creating the raqia (aka the vault, expanse, firmament, sky, space, the “something”). However, when God decides this whole human experiment has been a disaster (Genesis 7), God “opens the windows of heaven,” and God is opening up portions of the raqia so that the chaos of the tehom can come back into the world. This results in forty days of rain-the worldwide flood in the story of Noah and the Ark.
2 Peter reiterates this POV saying: “But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.” (2 Peter 3:5-6).
Jonah is communicating, “The ancient waters of chaos surrounded me.” Jonah is not only (literally) drowning, he is (figuratively) being undone; and he is (figuratively?) heading to a place where creation itself is being undone. The tehom that was there at the beginning of creation, with darkness and the Spirit of God hovering above (Genesis 1:2). This is the same tehom that God unleashed on humanity for disobedience (Genesis 7:11) and perhaps it’s the same tehom that God used to create all there is (2 Peter 3:5-6).
Which makes sense for us in why Jonah says, “2:4a Then I said, ‘I am driven away from your sight.”

Q1 // Is there anyone in your life you need to pray for the tehom of God to overcome them so that they might ‘sink to their senses,’ and find Christ? 

God's Promise


"4aTHEN I SAID, ‘I AM DRIVEN AWAY FROM YOUR SIGHt; 4b-yet I shall again look upon your holy temple.’"~Jonah 2:4 ESV


First off, notice here how Jonah proclaims 2 opposing ideas in this by saying: “I am cast out of your sight; and, secondly, notice His faith rise up  — “Yet I will look again towards your holy temple.” These, remember were both found in ONE man at ONE time

//sidenote//—This is comforting to me, in that I might have moments of doubt – – but ultimately God is still there in the midst of our doubt (Jude 22) and it’s a beautiful thing when we come to our Holy Spirit senses in those moments. Doubt doesn’t overcome God, but can actually be a pathway for us to find Him as God overcomes our doubt. This is how most of the apostles started out also–in doubt. But, when they examined the evidence for themselves they found faith.

Charles Spurgeon once said on faith, “Faith in weakness makes us strong, in poverty makes us rich, and in death makes us live.”
So, has Jonah actually been cast out of God’s sight here? No! That’s not what the evidence points to at all. Jonah is alive in the sea, he’s alive in the deep, he’s alive in the belly of a fish. Surely, if God was anywhere in the world, it was in that fish and in the deep w/Jonah all along.

Q1 // How can you place your “yet,” of faith– on the table before God, even when your circumstances tell you to do differently?


It seems like sometimes it’s only when you reach the very bottom – –  when everything falls apart, when all your schemes and plans and resources are broken and exhausted, that you are finally open to learn how to be completely dependent on God. As is often said, you never realize that Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you haveIf Jonah was to begin finally to ascend, both in the water and in faith, he had to be brought to the very end of himself. This is why a usual place for us to learn the greatest secrets of God’s grace is often at the bottom.
MAIN POINT / / The way up, is (sometimes at) first down.
Jonah here is acknowledging that even from the edges of creation, his prayers can still be heard by God. He makes vows and promises to sacrifice in worship to this God who overcomes death and tames the great deep. God will later command the fish to vomit Jonah back up onto dry land. Adding this now instead of a couple of weeks just because, it’s that same “dry land,” we find in the beginning of creation (Genesis 1:9) – signaling for us that Jonah is a new creation as he too has been resurrected from exile!


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