As the prophet Jonah sank into the depths of the sea he prayed to God and described his condition like this, “I have been cast out of Your sight… The waters surrounded me, even to my soul; the deep closed around me; weeds were wrapped around my head. I went down to the moorings of the mountains; the earth with its bars closed behind me forever…” (Jonah 2:4-6) As he sank, Jonah recognized that death was closing in on him, and as hard as he might have tried to kick or fight against the water, there was no way he was going to save himself.
The words quoted from Jonah describe his feelings as he sank in the depths of the sea. Some may assume that he is describing his condition in the fish but notice what he says while in the fish, “Out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and You heard my voice…The earth with its bars closed behind me forever; yet You have brought up my life from the pit, O Lord, my God.” (Jonah 2:2,6) We may not see the belly of a fish as a picture of salvation but Jonah realized that the fish which the Lord had prepared for him was indeed salvation.
Though we haven’t had a near death experience in the sea I think we can understand how Jonah felt; as if the deep is closing in around us with weeds wrapped around our head; sinking in the depths of sin knowing that death is imminent. Where is our great fish that will save us? In sin we can fell hopeless but all hope is not lost. God can prepare a way of escape for us too. If we want to get out of sin we must start where Jonah started, we have to cry out to God. Doctors can’t prescribe us a pill and our friends can’t give us advice that will save us from sin and death. If we truly want to be saved we will turn to the one and only, the true and living God who can and will save us. He can bring up our life from the pit and set us back on solid ground. However, we must realize that when we ask Him for salvation we must receive it on His terms.
When God provides us a way out of sin we must take it without hesitation. I’m not sure how Jonah felt as the great fish swam toward him but I doubt he was looking forward to what was coming next. Sometimes the path out of sin may be scary but we need to have the courage to take it. It may even hurt but it will be worth it in the end. “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.”(Mat 5:29-30)
Having a sorrowful heart is necessary if we are going to be set free from sin but many times the sorrowful heart leads us to the point of change only to see us turn around because we don’t like what the change will demand on our part. God was willing to send His only begotten Son to die on the cross so that we could be made free. Jesus willingly went to the cross because He loves us and doesn’t want to see us die. Will we not also make sacrifices in order to be saved; to live for eternity with our Father in heaven?
When the fish vomited Jonah on dry ground (Jonah 2:10) he did not shirk his responsibility. He wasn’t looking forward to going to Nineveh any more than he was the first time but he realized that he had to faithfully carry out the Lord’s command. How sad it is to see some who have prayed to God for deliverance, gone through tough times to find a way out and then when they are back on solid ground they turn right back to the world. When our longsuffering Father gives us another opportunity to live then let us live for Him, doing His will and not our own. The old man of sin must be kept in the grave and the new man must remain busy following Christ. “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Gal 2:20)
“Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that he will not hear.” (Isa 59:1-2)
God can and will save us if we are willing to put our sins away, cry out to Him, and accept the way of deliverance He has provided. (For information on God’s plan for one to become a Christian please see the back of the bulletin) We don’t have to sink in sin and drown, we can rise up and live, but only if we are willing to make the necessary sacrifices and live for Christ.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:1-2)