I feel like I mention this every year at this time, but I am going to mention this again. This weekend has become one of my favorite weekends of the year.
Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish, 2 saying, “I called out to the Lord, out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice. 3 For you cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me; all your waves and your billows passed over me. 4 Then I said, ‘I am driven away from your sight; yet I shall again look upon your holy temple.’ 5 The waters closed in over me to take my life; the deep surrounded me; weeds were wrapped about my head 6 at the roots of the mountains. I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me forever; yet you brought up my life from the pit, O Lord my God. 7 When my life was fainting away, I remembered the Lord, and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple. 8 Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love. 9 But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the Lord!” 10 And the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land. Jonah 2:1-10 (ESV)
And this weekend is one of my favorite weekends, not simply because this weekend is when we do our annual bow hunt, although that certainly has a play in why this is one of my favorite weekends. I love the bow hunt, and kids, I hope you are ready; this is the biggest bow hunt yet.
But the primary reason why this weekend is one of my favorite weekends is because it was on this weekend. That Red Village Church was officially born, where Red Village Church received her first members on December 5th, 2010. Which is now 13 years ago, so as a church, we made it into being a teenager.
Now, if you are not familiar with some of the backstory of our church, at the end of January 2010, all Red Village was at that point was a very Bible study that just started up with the hope, the prayer, the intention of one day becoming a church. From when that first Bible study was started, over the course of the next several months, that little Bible study grew little by little. And as that grew little by little, along with it, little by little, more and more from the Bible study latched on to the hope, the prayer, the intention of moving towards officially becoming a church. Having things like some organizational structure and taking on biblical responsibilities entrusted to the local church, where there would be members who have committed themselves not simply to the Lord but also committed to each other to be the church.
And as mentioned, it was this weekend 13 years ago that the hope, the prayer, the intention of the little Bible study became the reality. By the grace of God, Red Village was born as a group of us signed a church covenant for the first time. Let me read that covenant for you here:
Having, as we trust, been brought by Divine Grace to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and to give up ourselves to Him in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, we do now, relying on His gracious aid, solemnly, and joyfully covenant with each other.
We will diligently and consistently pray for Red Village Church, its members, and its leaders. We will seek to build up the members of Red Village Church in love and in unity. We will willingly hold others accountable as well as be held accountable ourselves by the members and the leaders of Red Village Church.
We will work together with great passion, zeal, and urgency to spread the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to all the nations of the earth. We will eagerly look for ways to serve the body of Red Village Church through the use of spiritual gifts and acts of service.
We will, with a cheerful heart, financially give to Red Village Church through our tithes and offerings. We will willingly follow the leadership of Red Village Church as the leaders follow the Lord Jesus and His written word.
We will, when we move from this place, as soon as possible, unite with some other church where we can carry out the spirit of this covenant and the principles of God’s Word. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of the Father and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all. Amen.
Now there are a few different things that I could point out to you from that covenant, but for today, what I want to point out to you is that the covenant that was signed 13 years ago this weekend, that has been signed many more times over the years and is about to include more signings today. Really, this covenant is a commitment to simply live out the normal Christian life, to be faithful and committed to do the very normal things God would have us to do. Every line in the covenant is part of the normal Christian life.
Now, as I say, let me also say as a church, from the day we were officially born, we have had some large aspirations and desires to be used by God to take the message of Jesus Christ to the very ends of the earth. Which, by grace, we continue to see the Lord fulfill through us. Which is so encouraging and humbling.
However, within those large aspirations and desires, we have always strived to be content to just be a normal church that does the normal, ordinary Christian things. Trusting that if we are found faithful to the normal, ordinary Christian things, God would bless that and use the ordinary Christian life in ways that bring glory to Himself, in ways we might not ever expect or think. Which, over time, has certainly proven to be true, where Red Village has been used by God in ways I don’t think any of us expected 13 years ago this weekend.
Now, I say all of this to you not simply to remind us that today we are celebrating 13 years of church, 13 years of striving to live the normal, faithful Christian life. But also, I say this to you this morning to set us up for our text of study in Jonah 2. Which, on one hand, is a very abnormal, unique passage, which I will talk more about in just a second. Yet, at the same time, as unique as this passage is, it really does reflect the principles of the normal Christian life, particularly when it comes to the normal Christian life of turning to God in repentance and faith. Which is a desire of our covenant reflected in being accountable and holding others accountable to a life of repentance and faith.
Now, before we get to the text, just a reminder of where we left off in our study, which does detail a lot of abnormal details. We do need to keep those abnormal details in its proper context to Jonah.
The book of Jonah starts out with the Lord coming to Jonah, who was a prophet of God that you can read more about in 2 Kings. God gave his prophet a preaching assignment, which was the assignment to go to the evil city of Nineveh so that God would, in short, bring about a revival. You would think this would be an assignment that would excite every preacher.
However, as Jonah received this assignment, he quickly decided that this was not a preaching assignment for him. He decided that this was not for him, not because he doubted God would work through his preaching. Rather, Jonah knew God would work through his preaching, and Jonah believed that indeed a great revival would come. But the rub in chapter 1 was that Jonah didn’t want the revival to happen.
As you remember, Jonah didn’t want God to do that gracious work in Nineveh to bring them to repentance and faith because of how much Jonah hated the Ninevites with seemingly deep bitterness. And because of his hatred and bitterness, Jonah didn’t want any of God’s mercy, grace, compassion, or kindness to come upon Nineveh. He wanted Nineveh to face the fire of God’s judgment. He wanted them to burn.
So as Jonah decided he was not going to walk in this clear command of God, he decided that he was going to get as far away as he could from the presence of the Lord and this command that was given to him.
So Jonah headed south from where he was to a port city called Joppa, where he paid a fare to enter a ship that was headed to Tarshish, a city most scholars agree was in the exact opposite direction of Nineveh. Nineveh was in modern-day Iraq, 500 or so miles to the east of Israel, and Tarshish seemed to be in Spain, 1500 or so miles to the west of Israel. As far west as the ancient world that Jonah could travel.
In our study, we learned that as Jonah got into the boat and headed toward Tarshish, he wasn’t getting away from the presence of the Lord, which was his intention. Because as we read last time, the great Hound of Heaven came after Jonah while he was out at sea. The Lord did this by hurling a great storm on the sea, where during the storm, it became clear to all on the ship that the great storm was happening because the Lord was chasing Jonah.
Yet as the storm raged, the Lord was at work in multiple ways. By way of a reminder, I will give you 3 ways that I mentioned in the previous sermon:
First, the Lord was at work through the great storm at sea as he brought the pagan sailors on the ship into saving faith in God. As you may remember, as our text last time was coming to an end, the once pagan sailors were having a worship service on the boat as they worshiped the Lord.
Second, the Lord was at work through the great storm to prove his sovereign power over all things. As He displayed that He not only had the power to cause the storm to come up on the sea but also God His sovereign power in display to quiet the storm, which the Lord did as the sailors threw Jonah into the sea. This was the Lord’s desire for them to do. As Jonah hit the water, the sovereign Lord quieted the sea. And as the sailors fulfilled the Lord’s desire to discipline Jonah and quiet the sea, to further prove His sovereign power, as you remember, the Lord sovereignly appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. This is perhaps the most famous scene in this little book.
Third, which is our text today, the Lord was at work through this great storm to not only chase Jonah but to catch Jonah and bring him to repentance and faith. This means that the Great Hound of Heaven was not chasing and disciplining Jonah because He was bored and looking for something to do or because He was cruel and had His own bitterness at work. Rather, the Lord chased Jonah in order to lovingly bring Jonah back into His presence, which was the very best thing for Jonah. The Lord accomplished this through repentance and faith, which is part of the normal Christian life—God bringing His people back into His loving presence through repentance and faith.
So, yes, no doubt the details surrounding the story of Jonah are unique, but in the end, we see a great model in our text today of the normal Christian life. As mentioned, we have been striving to walk in together as a church for the last 13 years.
The normal Christian life we must continue to strive to walk in, however long the Lord allows our church to have life. So with that as our introduction this morning, look back with me at the text, starting in verse 1, where we read that then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish.
Now let me mention here, there is an interesting discussion throughout church history on when Jonah prayed to the Lord from the belly of the fish. There are some who think that perhaps Jonah was in the belly for some time, and the longer he sat in the belly, he finally came to his senses and repented. Very possible. However, others, including myself, think that as Jonah was going down into the belly is when he prayed. Basically, he prayed this immediately as this was all happening in an instant. Our text was Jonah’s cry as all of this was quickly happening.
One of the main reasons why others, myself included, think this is because we believe that Jonah actually died in the belly of the fish. So he wasn’t just hanging out in the belly of the great fish for 3 days alive, as mentioned at some point while he was sitting around waiting to see what might happen next, he prayed. Rather, the belly of the fish was actually Jonah’s tomb for his dead body. Not just a metaphorical tomb and metaphorical picture of death, but this was death. Now, Scripture doesn’t explicitly tell us if Jonah physically died in the fish or if this was more a picture of death, which certainly it was that.
So, I tell you this, more of a point of interest for you to think about. And as you think about this, please do so by knowing that the point of the text remains the same either way. Keep going.
Verse 2, as Jonah prayed to the Lord, we see a great prayer of repentance written in a poem-like manner. A prayer where we see in the text that Jonah called out and cried out to the Lord, calling out in distress. Which this situation certainly was a stress-filled situation that Jonah put himself in. Can you imagine this scene for him as the Hound of Heaven was chasing him? There was a great storm, there was a ship full of sailors all in a panic. There was almost like a business meeting trying to figure out what to do. There was Jonah being physically lifted up and tossed into the sea. There was a great fish, maybe a whale, coming to swallow him up alive. This was a scene filled with stress for Jonah, stress that, as mentioned, he actually brought upon himself as his bitter heart rejected God’s command. Friends, sin always leads to misery, including the misery of distress.
In our text, as Jonah was filled with distress, we see the good and right model of what to do in our times of need. As we see Jonah turn back to the Lord by calling out to Him. In our text, for Jonah, finally, he stopped running from the Lord and is now running to the Lord. And as Jonah called out to the Lord, we read that the Lord answered him. Which, by the way, is what the Lord promises that He will do when we walk in repentance and faith.
The Lord doesn’t turn a deaf ear; rather, the Lord promises that He will respond, He will hear, He will answer when we walk in repentance and faith. Keep going, where we read that the Lord answered Jonah. Even as Jonah was in the belly of Sheol, even there the Lord heard his voice.
Now, the belly of Sheol in the Old Testament was basically the realm of the dead, where in the belly of Sheol, the people in the Old Testament seemed to be in some kind of almost a holding tank where they were separated from the loving presence of God and waited for further judgment to come. And by the way, perhaps ironically, Jonah’s desire in chapter 1 was to be away from the presence of the Lord. We read that both in verses 4 and 10 of chapter 1, as Jonah was seeking to flee from the presence of the Lord.
So now here in our text, he got what he wanted as he cried out from the belly of Sheol. Back to the Old Testament, even though Sheol is referred to a good number of times, there is a lot of uncertainty throughout church history on the exact nature of Sheol. As mentioned, it kind of feels like it was some kind of holding tank for the souls of the dead, but even that doesn’t feel exactly like what it was. Unfortunately, we don’t have time here for me to talk through all of the different ideas throughout church history that have come up on the nature of Sheol and the various challenges that come with the different ideas. However, if you are interested in talking more, I am happy to connect with you at a different time.
For our purposes today, the most important thing is to see that Jonah was in the realm of the dead, a place separated from the loving presence of God. A place of gloom, a place of despair, a place of further distress. Yet, as Jonah was in Sheol in distress and desperation, he cried out to the Lord. And as Jonah cried out to the Lord, the Lord graciously heard his voice, and as the Lord heard his voice, we will see that He responded to Jonah in kindness and mercy to bring him back into His loving presence. And by the way, as a reminder, kindness and mercy of God were the very things Jonah did not want to be given to Nineveh, but now he himself is in desperate need of it.
Verse 3, as part of a sign of Jonah moving into repentance and faith in his prayer, we see that in the belly of Sheol, Jonah could see the hand of God on him in this situation. And how it was the Hound of Heaven who, in the end, was really the one who lovingly hurled him into the sea. Our text says, “For you, Lord, cast me into the deep; for it is you, Lord, you hurled me into the heart of the sea. It was you, Lord, who caused the flood of waters to surround me, as it was your waves and your billows, O Lord, who passed over me.” And I think the tone here in verse 3 is not just Jonah understanding the Lord’s disciplining hand on him, but I think this was a humble acceptance of the Lord’s discipline. At least to me, verse 3 is Jonah seeing the consequences of his sin.
Which I think verse 4 further illustrates. As Jonah recognized how his sin drove him away from God’s sight. To keep saying it, it was Jonah’s sin that brought this on. In the text here, he was not an innocent victim of a distressful situation, which I think we could argue was true of the sailors in the previous text. But for Jonah, he wasn’t the victim; he brought it on himself. This wasn’t the Lord being cruel or unloving. This was on Jonah; he did this. His sin, his disobedience drove him from the sight of God.
And by the way, accepting realities like this seems to become increasingly harder and harder to do in our society, where we are almost trained to play the victim card. Yes, no doubt, at times that is a true reality, but not always. At times, it is on us where we have to humbly feel the weight of our sin and the consequences of our sin, rather than just passing the blame to other places. And while there are many problems with playing the victim card when we are actually the ones who brought distress on ourselves, at the forefront of the problem is that it keeps us from getting help and healing from the Lord.
When we hold on to our sin rather than humbly confessing it and giving it to the Lord, we keep ourselves in places of misery rather than healing. In our text, not only did Jonah humbly accept the consequences of his sin.
He humbly understood that his only hope was in God, that indeed God would be gracious and merciful to bring healing and forgiveness of sin. So, at the end of verse 5, as Jonah further cried out to the Lord, we see him doing so by declaring, “Yet I shall look again upon your holy temple.” In the Old Testament, the temple was the place where the fullness of God was pleased to dwell. The holy temple was the physical symbol of God’s presence with His people. So in this great prayer of repentance and faith, this is where Jonah humbly turned. He turned to the Hound of Heaven as he understood that the Lord was his only hope. Yes, he was a sinner, yet he could turn to the Lord.
And by the way, the word “YET” is such an encouraging word in the text. Friends, the temptation that is there when the Hound of Heaven is chasing us is to keep running, to try to run faster. But that is such a mistake. One, we will never outrun the Lord; that is a futile and foolish idea. Two, the Hound doesn’t chase His people to crush us but to save us, to bring us back into His loving presence. And in the steadfast love of the Lord, He will use whatever means He deems necessary in order to do so, including, for Jonah, the great storm, the great sea, the belly of Sheol.
But in our text, at the end of verse 4, Jonah is finally starting to see how hopeless and futile it was to run. So he stopped, he turned, and looked upon the Lord who is upon His holy temple.
Keep going. Verse 5, further understanding, and further acceptance of his sin and the consequence of his sin, Jonah prayed. How the water closed in over me to take my life, how the deep surrounded me, how weeds were trapped about my head, at the roots of the mountains, how I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me forever. Which I think, this is Jonah further describing the distress he was in, further admitting the hopeless predicament he put himself in as he was fleeing from the Lord. For Jonah, clearly, this was a state of misery.
But then we read the end of verse 6, another encouraging “yet.” Yet you brought up my life from the pit, O Lord my God. Yet it is you, Lord, who gives life to the dead. And friends, these two sets in our text are such good news to Jonah and to us. Even though we have sinned, even though we have run from the presence of God, even though we put ourselves in places of distress, in places of death, yet God has compassion, grace, and mercy on His people. Such compassion, grace, and mercy that not only does the Lord lovingly bring His people out of the pit but lovingly He brings His people into His presence. Friends, could there be better news than this? That God loves sinners in such a way that He gives them life found in His presence.
Verse 7, “When my life was fainting away,” which is a further indication that Jonah humbly understood the consequences of his sin. In that time, I remembered the Lord, and my prayer came to you in your holy temple.
Verse 8, in further keeping with living with repentance and faith, Jonah acknowledged that those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love. It is a miserable and hopeless pursuit, looking to anything outside of God Himself, in the end, in vain, void of any real hope.
However, in verse 9, when we live a life of repentance in faith, we can do so with a voice filled with joyful thanksgiving as we bring our worship to the Lord. In the Old Testament context of Jonah, this was through the offering of sacrifices, which in the text is what he vowed to do. And by way of reminder, this is what we saw the once pagan sailors do in the previous text as well. After they came to repentance and faith in the one true and living God, their hearts were driven to fearful worship of God by the offering of sacrifices and the giving of vows.
The work of God through repentance and faith, which brought the sailors to faith, here in verse 9 is a very similar thing that the Lord was doing to keep Jonah in the faith. He was drawing Jonah back into joyful worship, which is where life, joy, and purpose are found.
A life of worship of God. Now, even though there are clearly differences between when we were justified by God in the moment we first believed, which He did for the first time with the sailors, and when we are being sanctified by God, how God is at work in our life to grow us in that belief, which He is doing here in Jonah. Repentance and faith and worship are elements that are present in both. That is the intended outcome. This is how God is normally at work to bring us to salvation and to keep us in that salvation, which is how Jonah actually ends his prayer in verse 9 by testifying that salvation indeed belongs to the Lord.
It is all of God’s work; He is the one who saves and He is the one who continues to save us. And He is the one who will indeed hold us fast even as we try to run from His presence. Which is not only such an encouragement that God saves, but this is also why none of us can boast in our salvation. It is only God who saves; He deserves all the worship, glory, and credit. This is His work.
Finally, as our text ends today with perhaps the other most famous scene in the book of Jonah, where the sovereign Lord used His sovereign power to speak to the fish, to instruct the fish that it was to vomit Jonah out on the dry land. Where Jonah, who was either as good as dead or was actually dead, was brought back to life. As God was kind, gracious, and merciful to him.
Now, for the remainder of our time, what I wanted to do is give a few summary thoughts from our text as it relates to repentance and faith, which, to keep saying it, is the normal Christian life – a life of repentance and faith. Just to reiterate, there are unique, abnormal realities in this story that are exclusive to Jonah. I want to make sure we see those realities as being unique to Jonah because if we miss them, we can miss the bedrock of our faith.
Before we get there, let me give you three summary statements from the text, all of which are part of the normal Christian life that I hope we are striving to walk in. First, repentance and faith involve confessing sin and humbly accepting its consequences. It is both confessing whatever sin we need to confess and being humble enough to understand and accept that consequences do come with sin.
Let me talk briefly about both of those factors from the text. First, confessing sin, which I think we see Jonah do in this prayer as he cried out in distress. As mentioned, not every time we are in distress is because of our sin, but when we are in distress, we do need to discern if sin put us in that place. In the story of Jonah, certainly, that was true for him. He was in the place of distress in the belly of the fish because he was sinning, as he rejected the clear command of God to go to Nineveh.
Only to go on the run. In verse 2, I think he is recognizing that sin as he is confessing sin, as he is crying out for help. Likewise, verse 4 feels like confession of sin as Jonah confesses that it was his sin that drove him away from the presence of God. In verse 6, Jonah seemed to be confessing his sin as he went down into the land whose bars closed upon him forever. It was his sin that drove him there. In verse 7, Jonah seemed to confess sin as his life was fainting away. All of these things, at least to me, feel like Jonah confessing he was in sin.
Confessing sin is something we all must be willing to do, for all of us have sinned and continue to sin, even if we have the most committed walk with God. Unfortunately, we still sin. Sin is still present in this life. In fact, Scripture tells us that if we say we have no sin, we are a liar and the truth is not in us. And because sin is still very present in our life, a very normal thing we are to do as Christians is simply confess our sins to one another. In fact, that is near the top of the things we hope is present when we connect as a church, that we humbly confess our sins with one another to help one another fight the good fight of faith against sin. That should be a very normal thing we do.
And as we live the normal Christian life of confessing our sin, we do so and humbly understand that sin does bring about consequences.
Now, as I say that through Jesus, there is always forgiveness of sin, and if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us. We will talk about that more in just a bit. However, in this life, even though we can find forgiveness from sin, sin still does bring about consequences which we must humbly accept.
Maybe to illustrate this, remember one of the thieves who hung on the cross next to Jesus. Even though he turned to Christ to find forgiveness, forgiveness that would bring him into the eternal paradise that was to come, yet he understood and accepted that he was getting justice for his sinful deeds.
Back to our text today, I think Jonah had an understanding and acceptance of the consequences of his sin. He understood and accepted how his sin put him in the place of distress, into the belly of Sheol. Jonah understood and accepted the consequence of sin in verse 2, of being cast into the deep with the seas and the flood and the waves and the billows crashing around him. In verse 5, Jonah accepted the consequences of the waters closing over him to take his life, with the deep surrounding, the weeds wrapping around his head, as he went down into the land whose bars closed upon him.
And, friends, this is actually really important. If there is genuine repentance and faith, there is a humble acceptance of the consequences that come from our sin.
That is at the start of our faith, the moment we first believed, we humbly accept that our sin comes with the consequence of separating us from God and putting ourselves under the judgment of God. But then, even after we first believed, even as we continue to struggle with sin, we are to continue to humbly accept that there still can be consequences in this life when we sin. Consequences that can look different depending on the nature and frequency of sin. So yes, to say it again, there is forgiveness in Jesus, but in this life, there are consequences of sin, and part of the normal Christian life is to accept consequences rather than fight against them or deny it altogether.
And to go back to what was said earlier, I actually think if we can’t humbly accept that there are consequences of sin, it makes it so much harder for us to fight against sin in ways that we are seeking to put it to death and find greater victory over it.
2nd Repentance and Faith are turning to the Lord for hope. And this really is the dividing line for mankind. Where do we turn when we sin? And unless we completely sear our conscience, we know that we are sinners. Sinners who can feel the guilt and shame that sin always brings. And a very real part of every religious system is trying to address these issues of guilt, shame, and sin. And even if one is not in a formal religious system, in whatever religious system they have made up in their own heart, that is what everyone is trying to address.
Trying to move away from the guilt and the shame, trying to wash away our sin, hoping that somehow we can bring about our own forgiveness. But friends, Scripture is so clear: there is nothing we can do to wash away our sin. Not enough good works, not enough religious deeds, no scales we can fully tip to remove our sin. There is nothing we can do outside of turning to and hoping in God, trusting that indeed God can and does wash away our sin when we, by faith, turn to Him. Which, by the way, sets apart Christianity from all other religious systems. God is both the just and the justifier of our sin. And because only God can take away our sin, we must, by faith, turn from sin and turn to Him, placing our hope in Him. This is the model of Jonah in our text.
In verse 2, Jonah turned to the Lord and called out to Him in his distress. The Lord was his hope. And friends, the good news in the text is that the Lord answered Jonah; the Lord heard his voice. In verse 4, even though Jonah’s sin drove God away, the good news is that Jonah was still able to hope in God and look to the Lord upon His holy temple, as described in verses 5 and 6. Despite the distressing situation Jonah was in, through repentance and faith, he found hope in God, as the Lord brought up his life from the pit.
Verse 7: When Jonah’s life was fainting away, in good news, he found hope as he remembered the Lord. Through repentance and faith, his prayer came to God’s holy temple. Friends, that is our hope. Our hope is when we sin. By repentance and faith in the Lord, we can find forgiveness. God is gracious and merciful to all who come to Him.
Whether it be those who come to Him for the first time, which, as mentioned earlier, was true of the sailors in our text last time, where, by faith, they turned from sin and to the Lord who justified them. And perhaps that is you today, for the first time. You must hope in the Lord.
Or for those who have already been justified, which I assume is most of us. The normal Christian life is for us to continue to, by faith, repent and turn to the Lord when we sin. To continue to hope in Him. Friends, to say it again, not only does it not work to run from God, which was Jonah in chapter 1, but running from God is a life of misery and hopelessness.
So, friends, not only confess your sin and accept the consequences that may come with them, but as you do that, turn to the Lord in hope, give Him your sin that He would forgive you and give you life and salvation. Which leads to the last thing I want to say here before I close: 3rd Repentance and Faith is the path to life and salvation. And, friends, that is the joy of Jonah in this text. Yes, he was a sinner on the run, but as the Hound of Heaven chased him and caught him, Jonah was brought to repentance and faith in God where he found life and salvation.
So that he was able to testify in verse 6 how God brought up his life from the pit, where Jonah was able to testify with worship and thanksgiving in verse 9 that in God’s grace and mercy, he was given salvation leading to life. As indeed salvation belongs to the Lord.
And for Jonah, that life and salvation we see were given at the end of our text today as he was spit back out on dry land, life given from death.
Which, to go back to what was said earlier, as much as this text communicates the normal Christian life, we do have to keep this part of the story unique. Primarily because of how this incredibly gracious act of God in Jonah is there for us to see the most gracious act of God in Jesus.
Who, like Jonah, died not for His sin but for our sin, which Jesus did on the cross. Where Jesus died the death we deserved to die, to take on the judgment of our sin in our place. Where Jesus was buried in His own tomb for 3 days, yet on the third day, Jesus was given back life as Jesus rose again from the dead.
And because Jesus died and rose again, Jesus alone is our faithful high priest who we are to confess our sins to. And because Jesus died and rose again, Jesus alone is the means by which we come to God. No one can come to the Father apart from Him.
And because Jesus died and rose again, it is Jesus and Jesus alone who gives life and salvation because it is Jesus and Jesus alone who is the way, the truth, and the life. And because of these unique realities that are exclusive to Jesus, He is our hope.
And He, and He alone, is who we bring our joyful worship filled with overflowing thanksgiving. For us, for 13 years, we have sought to do this by proclaiming that the wooden cross and the empty tomb of Jesus mean everything to us. Because without those realities, if in the end, Jesus didn’t die and rise again for sinners, not only would Red Village Church not exist, none of us would have any hope. We would simply be stuck dead in our sin.
Yet praise be to God, the good news is that Jesus did come and do this great work for us and our salvation. So as I close this time here, I wanted to read for us Ephesians 2, which was a text I kept thinking about this week as I thought through Jonah 2 and the death to life given to Jonah that was pointing to Christ to become a reality for us as we repent of sin and put our faith in Jesus. This unites us to Christ.
Ephesians 2: 1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, yet God being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ by grace you have been saved, 6 and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
And for us, Red Village Church, because of that reality that we confess:
10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
And Red Village Church, may we set our hearts to worship Jesus by walking in these good works for years and years to come, which often are good works that come by living the normal Christian life. Faithfully doing the normal Christian things like living a life of repentance and faith, trusting and believing that God is powerfully at work in them for our good and His glory, to build His church that hell itself will not prevail against.