Friday, December 2, 2016

TheStoryOfJonah : The First Key to Repentance 2:1-2

Again, as we read through this small book, we can see so much and learn so much if we just take the time to stop and meditate on all that is happening. For this reason, I had to break this section down into 5 sections: 

2:1-2 > The First Key to Repentance: Pray for Help

2:3 > The Second Key to Repentance: Accept Discipline
2:4-7 > The Third Key to Repentance: Trust in God
2:8-9 > The Fourth Key to Repentance: Yield to God
2:10 >  The Fifth Key to Repentance: Receive Redemption

It's an interesting parallel to reflect on the Prodigal Son as we read through Jonah's story. There are many similarities. The Prodigal Son, just like Jonah, did not want to live under the guidance of authority and fled. He thought, just like Jonah, that his own way was better. He 'lived the life' as they say, but at some point, there was a coming to his senses. At some point, literally being surrounded by the pigs in a stall, and pining for their food, the Prodigal Son came to his senses. In the first few verses of Jonah chapter 2, we have the 'pig stall experience' for Jonah.

Jonah had chosen the way of rebellion and he had reaped the consequences of it. It's not a popular topic (as we looked at in my last entry) but truth be told, rebellion will catch up with us. Our rebellion affects so many other peoples' lives as well as our own, there is always mending of relationships that needs to be done in conjunction with our own repentance. But here we have the 'outcome of rebellion' - Jonah was hurled into the sea and his problems overwhelmed him in the form of a great fish. 

This fish, being big enough to swallow him whole, gave Jonah the ability to reflect on himself and his circumstances that he was placed in (confirming that he wasn't in any danger, nor was he suffering or in pain in the stomach of the whale, other than his own internal suffering). May I suggest to you that this parallels Jesus' death and resurrection as well. As we have already discussed, Jesus Himself regarded Jonah's story as a paralleling of His own journey to the cross and resurrection (see Matthew 12:39, 40). Here we see a mirror-image of the cost of sin. Jonah was separated from God's presence in the form of a fish - Jesus was separated from God's presence in the form of a cross (see Mark 15:33ff). Both experienced describe the excruciating pain of being absent from the LORD.

So the first key in unlocking the door to repentance in our lives is asking the LORD for help. This is what Jonah does. It may seem like a simple point, but Jonah called out to the LORD in his distress. I believe he didn't have to. I believe that if he stayed in the stomach of that whale long enough, he would have been overwhelmed by the other things that whales seem to swallow and we wouldn't have the outcome and incredible lessons that we can now glean from his life. But thanks be to God - Jonah repented and came to his senses. Perhaps, because he saw his own demise quickly approaching, Jonah cries out to the LORD. And we now have this incredible prayer of repentance as a model for our own repentance-prayers.

In similar structure of many of the Psalms, Jonah cries out in his distress and experiences the LORD's answer and the LORD's voice. Please notice the incredible grace of the LORD. Jonah had just been overwhelmed, by way of a whale, and he came to his senses, but the LORD met him in the whale. This is such an incredible part of our repentance stories. The LORD does meet us and desires to commune with us. There is nowhere that we can flee from the LORD's presence (see Psalm 139:7ff). He is always willing to meet us, even in the most strangest of places of isolation. 

Due to this first key of repentance of crying out to the LORD for help, this whale became a holy place for Jonah and became, literally, his steps to freedom. Within the belly of a whale, Jonah meets with the LORD. 

Jonah cries out to the LORD. He acknowledges his predicament and confesses his need for the LORD and the LORD answered him. Jonah cried for help from the depth of Sheol and the LORD heard his voice. This is the First Key of Repentance - Praying for Help. 

May we pray, today, with honest assessment, of our need for the LORD every moment of our lives! 

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