Background Info on Jonah
Jonah = unique book
- Historical figure named Jonah son of Amittai in 1 Kings.
- But no historical reference to story.
- Most successful prophet, but most scholars have thought that Jonah is a metaphorical book.
Life in the Boat vs. Life in the Ocean
Thoughts from TBS Members:
Jinny: was confused at first – thought the prayer related to things that happened while in the fish, but after realized that maybe the prayer related with what he experienced in the ocean.
- Think this is correct.
- He’s recounting his experience in the ocean.
Rockey: asked if he felt more safe on the boat than in the fish.
Daniel: feel like Jonah was more awake now than last week.
Last week, Jonah was on the boat.
This week, Jonah is recounting his time in the ocean.
Compare: Life in the Boat vs. Life in the Ocean. What is the difference?
What was Jonah doing in each? What’s the difference in the two scenarios?
What about your life: where are you?
Boat = running away, sleeping through life
Ocean = fully engaged, awake
Ocean = chaos, disorder
- In modern life, we life orderly, controlled lives.
- We don’t handle disorder well.
- See a lot of anxiety amidst breakdown of orderly, controlled life.
Prefer sleep and running away because we fear the ocean.
- But the ocean is where everything becomes real – where life becomes real.
How do we know whether we’re on the boat or in the ocean?
In the Belly of the Fish
V.2: Jonah’s cry from deep in the water: was it more than just from being deep in the water? What was this “more”?
V.4: during his descent, he thinks about God. What does this say about his faith?
When your life is “ebbing away”, what or whom do you think of? What does this reveal to you about your faith?
V.8 – What are “vain idols”? What do people forsake?
The whole chapter takes place in the belly of the fish.
3 days/3 nights.
- Jonah was all alone.
- He had time to think.
- He had nothing else to do but confront his life.
Downward journey of descent.
- “Cast me into the deep”
- “Waters closed in over me …”
- “Weeds wrapped around my head at the roots of the mountains.”
- Jonah is at the very bottom of the ocean.
His prayer is recounting what happened.
- But not just what happened.
- His prayer was his understanding of what happened.
History is not just a recount of what happened.
- It is an understanding of what happened.
- An understanding of how events are connected and lead to certain results.
We do this in our lives, whether we’re conscious of it or not.
- Jonah’s prayer reflected his understanding of what happened.
- DP asked: Did God cast Jonah into the deep?
- That was his understanding: that God compelled him out of his sleep into the ocean.
An interesting thing is that in his descent, he thinks about God (V.4).
- Not just that but if you look carefully, his despair is not in his actual situation.
- His despair is in how the situation is driving him away from God’s sight, that he will not be able to see God.
- Holy temple = where God resides.
- What does this say about his faith?
In his downward spiral, he interpreted it as being driven away from God.
- At the centre of his understanding was the importance of the presence of God.
- To be close to God was at his core, so to be driven away was the ultimate despair.
- God was at the centre of his understanding.
- His understanding of the past shaped his hope for the future, and that impacted his present.
History is not for the sake of the past.
- How we understand the past affects our view of the future, which affects our view of the present.
- If God shapes how you understand the past (how God rescued me and was present), then God shapes your hope for the future (God will be with me), and that shapes my present (God is with me).
Life in the ocean reveals what our faith truly is.
- Our prayer is for real faith.
Images & Metaphors of the Belly
What are some images or metaphors for the belly of the fish?
What do those images or metaphors say?
- Use your imagination.
- Metaphors are powerful images that convey meaning and help us understand.
- Concept of Trinity is a metaphor: Father, Son, Spirit metaphor helps us understand God better.
- In a similar way, come up with some images or metaphors that give us more meaning for Jonahs experiencing in the belly of the fish.
1. Ark – God provided a large fish.
- Saved him from the dangers of the ocean.
- Gave him space to think.
- God does keep us.
- But, for many people it stops there. God is merely one who keeps my comfort.
- God does not merely comfort us.
- V.6 – “I went down to the land whose bar closed upon me forever; yet you brought up my life from the Pit, O Lord my God!”
- Place of new birth.
- Thrown into the ocean is chaos and disorder.
- Our former well-ordered life is thrown in disarray.
- But God creates something new – we are reborn.
- This is the central Christian message isn’t it? Death and resurrection.
- God creates us anew.
- St. Paul – Behold, I am a new creation.
Calling: to become a new person.
- New heart.
- New view of the world.
- New person.
- He’s still in the belly, still in the ocean. What does he do?
V.7 – “I remembered the Lord; and my prayers came to you, into your holy temple.”
- What is the significance of the temple?
- Temple or sanctuary is not the nice, quiet place we’ve made for worship.
- Of course, that has its place.
- Jonah is essentially worshipping.
- Where is he doing it?
- In the belly of the fish in the middle of the ocean.
- Worship is most real in the context of our immediate struggles, chaos and confusion in life.
- Fear paralyzes us. It makes us sleep and run away.
- But instead, we should worship.
V.9 – “But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you.”
- Giving thanksgiving.
- When you’re in great difficulty, give thanks.
- Sounds crazy.
- Sacrifice = giving his life to God.
- In midst of storms, the ocean, he gave his life to God.
- Amidst fear, uncertainty, we give thanks to God and give our lives to God.
- That is true worship.
How do we remember God? How doe we know God?
- We worship at all times.
Jonah’s final words: “Deliverance belongs to the Lord!”
- Final rests with God.
- That is hope.
Prayer = our true worship in the belly of the fish.