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Jonah’s Leftovers // Jonah 2:5-7


Sovereign To SAVE // PROVISION

"5The waters closed in over me to take my life; the deep surrounded me; weeds were wrapped about my head 6at the roots of the mountains. I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me forever; yet you brought up my life from the pit, O Lord my God. 7When my life was fainting away, I remembered the Lord, and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple. ~Jonah 2:5-7 ESV


Jonah’s been 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. However, Jonah is not stuck in Sheol but rather in God’s rescue ship. Jonah ran, God pursued him. Jonah initiated separation, but God initiated the restoration. Jonah was willing to die for his convictions until he was dying. Jonah thought he knew what he wanted until he had a taste of it. (–funny how God will do that for us too) But God, in his wisdom had the rescue already waiting because our God is a pursuing God. In Chapter 2:5-7 we will hear Jonah’s thankfulness of God’s pursuing nature.


The waters closed in over me to take my life; the deep surrounded me; weeds were wrapped about my head


Like a gate as he sinks the waters close over him. “The deep surrounded me and weeds were wrapped around my head.” He is on the floor of the sea at this point. These verses vividly illustrate the hopelessness of his situation.


at the roots of the mountains. I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me forever; yet you brought up my life from the pit, O Lord my God.


At the root of the mountains, I went down,”AB briefly discussed this in week 1, but Jonah’s disobedience is seen as the repeated constant demise and in his writing, Jonah is underscoring this stating over and over “I went down.”
3But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord.” Jonah 1:3 ESV
To Tarshish is repeated three times in this verse to underscore that Jonah is not going to Nineveh. Tarshish, an unknown locale associated with distant coastlands, was somewhere in the western Mediterranean—the opposite direction from Nineveh. From the presence of the LORD is repeated at the end of this verse to underscore Jonah’s purpose in going to Tarshish. Went down is also a euphemism for death. The suggestion is that each step away from the presence of the Lord is one step closer to “going down” to death for Jonah.
Jonah’s descent to death is almost complete as he reaches the roots of the mountains at the bottom of the seas, where the gates of Sheol are located.
Look back at verse 6 again: 6at the roots of the mountains. I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me forever; yet you brought up my life from the pit, O LORD my God.” Jonah 2:6 ESV
Bars closed upon me forever – is just a rephrasing of the word Sheol it verse 2. This phrase refers to the realm of the dead, which one would enter by going through a gate made of “bars”. Jonah did not literally pray from Sheol but describes his near-death experience. Since the bars refer to the gates of Sheol, the land in verse 6 refers to the realm of the dead as does pit.
You brought up my life from the pit – Jonah is singing thanksgiving over his rescue. Jonah had done nothing to deserve being rescued; his salvation was by grace alone. The phrasing Jonah uses here is a copy and paste from David’s psalm of praise in Psalm 103. In this Psalm, David is praising God for Israel’s constant rescues by YWEAH. Notice the direct link word: 4who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,” Psalm 103:4 ESV


When my life was fainting away, I remembered the Lord, and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple.


God has supernaturally rescued Jonah from the pit, Sheol, the land of the dead, or more importantly the place where no human hand could. God has brought Jonah to a place of introspection, or a better way of putting it, He has broken Jonah’s strong will. Notice his next words in verse 7.
Jonah had previously thought, I would rather die than to go serve the Assyrians in Nineveh until his death was imminent. He thought I can do life on my own, I can run from the presence of God and be just fine. However, his heart of pride ran into the unmovable will of God and quickly found his life fainting away. At the brink of death however, the many hours that he had spent in his life in faithful prayer to God came back to him and he “Remembered the LORD” and he begins to call out in prayer to the LORD. If there is anywhere in this passage of prayer that the modern-day reason should find encouragement it is here: Jonah having first-hand knowledge of God’s patient and forgiving nature begins to call out to him in prayer and Jonah say, “My prayer came to you”.
Why should this encourage us? If this prideful prophet who has directly disobeyed God and had been willing to give his life for that disobedience can call out to God in his moment of distress and know he is being heard. Doesn’t that also apply to us? Jonah knew what the scriptures said so began to call out to God in his distress because he knew God would hear them. There is nowhere that God would not hear his cry! Check some of them out:
7Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? 8If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!Psalm 139:7-8 ESV
20Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me!Psalm 66:20 ESV
17When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.” Psalm 34:17 ESV
24Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear.” Isaiah 65:24 ESV
6In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears.” Psalm 18:6 ESV
This is why it is SO SO SO important that we spend time with the scriptures and get to know God’s word! In our darkest moments of life God’s word points us back to the hope that we have in Jesus Christ! God’s word tells us that we are never alone, never forsaken, while being struck down we are not destroyed!
Remember that it is not hasty reading, but serious meditation on holy and heavenly truths, that makes them prove sweet and profitable to the soul. It is not the mere touching of the flower by the bee that gathers honey, but her abiding for a time on the flower that draws out the sweet. It is not he that reads most, but he that meditates most, that will prove to be the choicest, sweetest, wisest and strongest Christian.” – Thomas Brooks
When we walk with God’s word some days it might seem routine, but it may be the only source of life in others. In your hour of need it will serve as your guidepost when you don’t know the way.
7When my life was fainting away, I remembered the LORD, and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple.” Jonah 2:7
Not only does Jonah’s prayer in the depths of the sea still reach the throne of heaven, but he believes it met God at his holy temple. Why is that so significant? In this period the Ark of the Covenant still sat inside the temple which represented the physical manifestation of God’s presence on earth. It contained within it the two stone tablets of the Testimony (the Ten Commandments),“a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s staff that budded” (Heb. 9:4). More importantly than what was inside of it was what was on top of it. 
More importantly than what was inside of it was what was on top of it. The Mercy Seat. The Mercy Seat, or atonement cover, was a solid golden slab that fitted perfectly on top of the ark. The golden cherubim, which were hammered out of the same piece of gold, had wings outstretched over the mercy seat and faces that looked downward (in reverent awe). The mercy seat had to exist because God knew we could not perfectly follow what was inside of the Ark, The Law (AKA 10 Commandments). Each year on the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur, a priest would sprinkle the blood of the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the people on the mercy seat (Lev.16:14-15). It’s only the death of another that secured forgiveness that we can even speak with God.
In this moment, Jonah is reflecting on the place of forgiveness in his darkest hour as he calls out to God from the deep. He is doing so because while God hates our sin, Jonah knows through blood on the mercy seat forgiveness can be found. Jonah knew that was the place of mercy from which God would hear his cries: 22There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you about all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel.” Exodus 25:22
Jonah knew where the Law condemns us and keeps us distant for God, it is through the blood that we are brought close so that is where his mind goes, to the seat of forgiveness. Little does Jonah or does anyone during this time know that this imperfect system of forgiveness points to the prefect and final sacrifice coming once and for all time in Jesus.


This passage raises the issue of whether or not we can be so depraved, so rebellious, and so far from God that He cannot save us.
Is there anyone too sinful for God? How deep does God’s mercy Go? God’s mercy will go down to the sandbars in the ocean for a rebellious prophet who deserved to die. God will say, “I hear that prayer for mercy, and I will get something down there and save you.” No one is beyond that! No one is beyond the mercy of God! It is never too late to repent and turn to the Lord. You have opportunity wherever you are.
Do not say to yourself, “You don’t understand what I have done in my life!” You could have fled from God, paid the fare to hop on a ship going opposite the direction that He has sent you, gone to sleep while God was hurling a storm, been apathetic about people perishing, have said, “Just throw me overboard,” and take your chances between death and God. If you have done something like that, you are right in line with Jonah. God will hear you even if you have done far worse!
If a prideful & prestigious prophet who was willing to die before submitting can cut through that and cry out to God what stops you for doing so from your spot today. There is nothing too bad or too big to prevent your cry for salvation from being heard. The blood for your sins has already been spilled, your bail has already been paid the question is will you step out of the belly of the fish like Jonah or will you die in the depths of the sea? There is blood on the mercy seat for you today. As Romans 3 tells us that the wrath of God has been satisfied by the blood of Jesus. Therefore, all who would call out upon the name of Jesus can be saved.
Call out to the mercy seat today in the depths of Sheol in your life. Be like Jonah: In the belly of the fish, Jonah chose prayer & praise in his pain. Position your heart, your mind, your disposition to a place of prayer and praise. Surrender in the deep to the only one who can raise you up!

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