Jonah 2—In and Out of the Great Fish

(10 verses, :50 to read)

READ

What I am about to READ

  • Jonah prays from the belly of the fish.

MARK and LEARN

  • The Masoretic Text of the Hebrew Bible, the Septuagint, and the Vulgate all end chapter one at verse 16. Chapter 1 would then end with the mariners making vows to the Lord. Chapter 2, then, would begin with God’s appointing of the great fish to swallow Jonah and end with the fish vomiting Jonah onto dry land.
  • This is important for several reasons. Jonah is a type of Christ in chapter one, throwing himself overboard. Ending the chapter with the mariners making vows to the Lord shows us, essentially, that Jonah gave his life to save the mariners.
  • But Jonah is not the Christ! So chapter two, if it begins at 1:17, shows that God, out of pure grace, provides the great fish to swallow Jonah. The One who will die for all is has not yet arrived.
  • There is a parallel between Jonah’s prayer in chapter 2 and certain sections of chapter 4. From Lessing’s Concordia Commentary on Jonah:
    • 2:1-11, Jonah is delivered.
      • 2:2, Jonah prays.
        • 2:3-7b, Jonah refers back to his distress in the deep.
        • 2:7c-8, He asserts God’s merciful deliverance.
        • 2:9, He draws insight from his deliverance: idolaters forsake the One who loves them.
        • 2:10, Jonah responds to God: worship with sacrifices and vows.
      • 2:11, God responds to Jonah: he speaks to the fish.
    • 4:1-11, Nineveh is delivered.
      • 4:2, Jonah prays.
        • 4:2a-c, Jonah refers back to his distress in Israel.
        • 4:2e, He asserts God’s merciful deliverance.
        • 4:2d, He draws insight from the thought that God may save Nineveh and concludes that he must flee to Tarshish.
        • 4:3, Jonah responds to God: a plea for death.
      • 4:4-11, God responds to Jonah: he speaks of judgment and grace.
  • We do well to remember Jesus’ reference to the Sign of Jonah in Matthew and Luke. As the fish held Jonah for only a little while, death held our Lord for only a little while. Both are vomited up. Jonah to preach to Nineveh. Jesus to open the Scriptures to us for our salvation.

MEDITATE

  • From The Lutheran Study Bible: “Jonah deserves death, not deliverance. Yet the Lord graciously rescues him by miraculous intervention. Jonah recognizes the greatness of the Lord’s compassion and expresses his thanks in prayer. The apostle Paul, like Jonah, once felt that he had ‘received the sentence of death,’ but the God ‘who raises the dead’ delivered him (2 Co 1:8-10). All sinners deserve the sentence of everlasting death. But the God to whom salvation belongs has, in Christ, reduced us and given us new life” (p.1482).

Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Post below, or join the conversation in our Facebook group.

Rev. Benjamin Tyler Holt

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