Part 4: Jonah’s Response to the Father’s Discipline
If you haven’t already read them, check out the earlier posts in this series:
Remember in Part 3, we discussed three ways we respond to our Father’s discipline: make light of it, become discouraged, or to accept the discipline and learn from it. Jonah’s response to finding himself in the belly of the great fish is a good example for us of the last—and correct—response.
Jonah Cried Out for Help
The first thing Jonah does is cry out for help, then Jonah prayed to ADONAI, his G-d, from the belly of the fish, saying:
“From my distress I cried to ADONAI and He answered me. From the belly of Sheol I cried for help and you heard my voice. (Jon 2:2-3, TLV)
Jonah had hit rock bottom and there was no further down that he could go. Sometimes that’s what it takes for a person to finally look up for help.
Jonah Accepted ADONAI‘s Discipline
In verse 4, Jonah recognizes that although the sailors threw him overboard, it was the hand of G-d that had hurled him into the sea.
For you hurled me from the deep, into the heart of the seas and currents swirled around me. All your waves and your breakers swept over me.” (Jon 2:4, TLV)
Jonah recognized that he had sinned by disobeying G-d and that G-d was disciplining him and he deserved it.
Jonah Trusted in G-d’s Promise
The third thing Jonah does is place his trust and hope in G-d’s promises.
And I said, “I have been banished from before your eyes. Yet I will continue to look toward your holy Temple.” (Jon 2:5, TLV)
As my soul was fading from me, I remembered ADONAI and my prayer came to You, toward Your holy Temple. (Jon 2:8, TLV)
Jonah recognizes that because of his disobedience, he has put distance between himself and G-d, but he looks to G-d anyway and, in faith, asks G-d to deliver him. But why does he say I will look towards Your Temple? In 1 Kings 8, in the midst of the dedication of King Solomon’s temple, Solomon recognizes G-d’s grace toward those that recognize their sin and turn to G-d for forgiveness.
When prayer or supplication is made by anyone or by all Your people Israel—each knowing the plague of his own heart—when one spreads his hands toward this House, then may you hear from heaven, Your dwelling place, forgive and act, and give to each man according to all his ways, as You know his heart to be. For You alone know the hearts of all the children of men. (1Ki 8:38-39, TLV)
This is what Jonah is remembering. He is trusting the promise of G-d that, if we will humble ourselves and turn and seek G-d’s face, then He will hear from heaven and forgive our sins. Our sins are not a surprise to G-d. There is no panic in heaven.
Jonah Submitted to the Will of G-d
We finally see Jonah submitting to G-d’s will. Jonah realized that submission is a better solution than running away.
But I, with a voice of thanks, will sacrifice to you. What I vowed, I will pay. Salvation is from ADONAI.” (Jon 2:10, TLV)
Jonah repented fully in this prayer. He is not simply sorry for his sin. He is throwing himself on the mercy of ADONAI, trusting Him for Salvation. G-d heard Jonah and his rescue came immediately.
Then ADONAI spoke to the fish and it vomited Jonah onto the dry land. (Jon 2:11, TLV)
In the same way, if we will humble ourselves and turn and seek ADONAI‘s face, then He will hear from heaven and will forgive our sins. It is already paid for on the cross through His beloved Son Messiah Yeshua. Like the father in the prodigal son story, He waits for us to turn back to Him and ask for forgiveness. He can’t wait to forgive us and welcome us back.