JONAH'S TRANSFORMATION Jonah Chap 2 v1-10 Jonah 03
INTRODUCTION God had said to Jonah, 'Go and preach in Nineveh', but Jonah had quit God's service, left no forwarding address and took a Mediterranean cruise in the opposite direction. ‘Jonah the prophet’ had become ‘Jonah the rebel’. God sent a great storm, Jonah was identified as its cause and he had asked to be thrown into the sea. ‘Death rather than obedience’ had been his motto. God in his grace had a great fish ready to provide Jonah with a temporary residence. God in his grace was determined to transform his prophet.
JONAH'S GREAT AWAKENING In the stomach of the great fish God's alarm clock rang to rouse Jonah from his spiritual slumber. Disobedience had previously desensitised his conscience and blinded him to the activity of God. Now Jonah's spiritual sight is restored. v3... This awakened man could no longer persuade himself that he was the victim of cruel circumstance or some unhappy tragedy. Jonah now saw the hand of God in recent events.
JONAH'S GREAT AWAKENING Secondly, Jonah recognised that God was against him. Previously, his rebellion had blinded him to the horror of his true position with God! Now he felt what it was like to be banished from God’s presence. It is a fearful discovery to make! Illustration: Think of the shock to the system experienced by Balaam in Num.22.2l-34.... Until a man's spiritual perception is restored he finds it hard to grasp that his disobedience puts him against God. This very disturbing truth often leads to the road to recovery.
JONAH'S GREAT AWAKENING In Jonah’s case, before his spiritual awakening, he saw his physical condition as his greatest danger v2... He was an unwilling prisoner in an underwater roller-coaster, soaked in the digestive juices of the great fish’s stomach, in temperatures in excess of 106F, lungs filled with air fouled by decomposing organic matter... Jonah no longer sees that as his greatest danger. cf v 4... “my great danger”, says Jonah, “is that I am separated from God and need to get back.”
JONAH'S GREAT AWAKENING This is ever the priority of the spiritually awakened man. His first concern is not with his physical condition but with his relationship with God. Example: What was Saul’s priority after he was awakened on the Damascus Road where he had been blinded? He did not seek out the Ophthalmology Dept. of Damascus Hospital. Instead, he spent three days and nights without food and drink as he cried to God in prayer [Acts 9.9]. He recognised his great need was to get right with God.
JONAH MAKES A 'U' TURN Jonah awakening led to a major change of direction. He saw with frightening revulsion the stupidity of his rebellion. Like the prodigal, who came to his senses in a pigsty, he saw the futility of a life of rebellion. And now, in brokenness of spirit, Jonah too lowers the flag of his rebellion. This is what the bible calls ‘repentance’ - a ‘U’ turn to brings us back to God. John Calvin writes, ‘there are 3 important things in the Christian life, the first is repentance, the second is repentance and the third is repentance.’
JONAH MAKES A 'U' TURN Self-pity and repentance are worlds apart. The primary focus of repentance is to see that we have offended God and we seek a change in our thinking, attitudes and behaviour. Preaching repentance isn’t popular today - it challenges a man's pride and confronts him with his disobedience. Instead of calling the prodigal home many seem content to make him comfortable in his pigsty thus encouraging the rebel to stay away from home where he remains cut off from the only person who really loves and cares for him.
JONAH MAKES A 'U' TURN The genuineness of Jonah's repentance is seen in his longing to have his communion with God restored. By running away from God he had cut himself off from communion thus losing any sense of God's presence. He made himself a spiritual outcast. The lines of communication had been cut now he wants them restored cf. v4. Genuine repentance settles for nothing less than pressing through to experience the reality of a living relationship with God.
JONAH MAKES A 'U' TURN Jonah's repentance is marked not only by a return to God's presence but by a return to God's Word. His disobedience had resulted in a neglect of God's Word. He stopped his ears to God's Word 'go to Nineveh'. Rebels do not want their conscience continually pricked by God's Word, and so they stop their ears to it. When it is preached they refuse to apply it to their lives. But let a man experience a spiritual awakening and God's Word begins to be valued. He finds a new passion for it.
JONAH MAKES A 'U' TURN There is a striking similarity between the language Jonah uses in ch.2 and some of the psalms. Can we account for that? Yes, Jonah in his awakened state begins to meditate upon God’s Word with which he is familiar. He uses it to stimulate faith. The God who restored the Psalmist to living communion could do precisely the same for him. This hunger to make fresh use of God's Word is a sure indicator that a spiritual u turn has taken place.
JONAH'S RECONSECRATION Jonah's experience went beyond a spiritual awakening and repentance. It finds its climax in a renewed consecration to God and his service. Cf. v9," I have vowed I will make good". There had been a time in Jonah's life when he had yielded it unreservedly to God but then he began to renege on that commitment. The rebel often takes back little by little all they had laid before God until there is little left. Genuine repentance lead to a reconsecration which lets go of all that competes for our hearts’ allegiance.
This was Jonah’s experience in v8 "those that cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs". An idol is anything that competes for God's rule in our lives and in Jonah’s case it was his prejudice against the enemies of his people, his pride and love for his own reputation that is most likely in his mind. Jonah says, 'I have learned from bitter experience that if I am to be restored and taste the grace of a new beginning, then I must let go of these things. I cannot cling to my idols and claim God's grace'. JONAH'S RECONSECRATION
In practice this is exactly what many people attempt to do. God's storms buffet their lives, they are cornered by God and awakened to the reality of their estrangement from him. They are reminded of the joy of his presence and the experience of his past blessing. Some may make a show of laying down the arms of their rebellion but they will not let go of the thing that severed their communion with God in the first place. They want God's blessing without letting go of their idol but that in practice is impossible. JONAH'S RECONSECRATION
Some can experience a gracious spiritual awakening from the hand of God and taste the gift of repentance. But if that does not lead to a fresh consecration which makes us to let go of whatever has caused our estrangement from God then, in the words of Jonah, they “forfeit the grace of God”. They are left with no consciousness of the presence of God and there is no real substitute for that. Augustine was correct to address God in these words, "My heart can find no rest till it finds its rest in You". CONCLUSION