Before we look at chapter two, let’s look at the last verse of Chapter one.
Jonah’s Prayer and Deliverance
Chapter 1:17 Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
This great fish heard the command of the Lord to swallow Jonah whiles some humans still struggle to hear the voice of the Lord. Why is this? Is it because God is not speaking or is it because we have problems hearing from God?
John 10:27 Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me”
If you are His sheep, you are supposed to hear his voice. If you are not hearing His voice, something is wrong. Begin to pray – Father Lord, open my hears so I can hear your voice.
Verse 17 of chapter 1 is key to understanding the book of Jonah. Most people who know the story of Jonah, never actually read it from the Bible. Those who have read this story from the Bible probably never paid full attention to its details. A lot of people assume that Jonah was thrown off the ship and a great fish swallowed him ALIVE. THAT IS NOT THE CASE as we shall soon see.
Since God and Jonah were the two people involved in this incident, why don’t we allow them to tells us exactly what happened that day? In this story, Jonah, through the inspiration of God tells us exactly what happened to him after he was thrown off the ship – I suggest we pay full attention to Jonah’s testimony since he was the very one involved in this incident. Please follow very closely.
Jonah’s Prayer and God’s Answer
Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the fish’s belly. And he said: “I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction, And He answered me.
Jonah prayed and God answered him. When did Jonah make this prayer? It is very important for us to figure out the answer to this question. You will soon see why. Remember he said, he prayed and God answered him. Did he pray immediately after he was swallowed by the fish? If So, why then did he spend the next three days and three nights in the fish’s belly after God answered him? Why didn’t the fish vomit him straight away after God answered him? Or, did he die, went to hell and prayed this prayed from hell and God answered him from hell? Let’s find out.
2 Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the fish’s belly. 2 And he said: “I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction, And He answered me. “Out of the belly of Sheol I cried, And You heard my voice.
Jonah said he prayed from the fish’s belly. So the place of prayer is from fish’s belly. – “Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the fish’s belly.”
In this same verse, Johan also said he cried out of Sheol. Interesting! We already know he prayed from the fish’s belly and now, is he also telling us he cried out of Sheol?
The King James Version translates verse 2 as “out of the belly of hell I cried”.
The New living translation says “I called to you from the land of the dead”.
Sheol, the belly of hell, land of the dead are all one and the same thing, so no discrepancy here. All mean the same thing.
He prayed from the fish’s belly, and yet he cried out of Sheol? Was the fish in Sheol? Where is Sheol? What is going on? All Biblical translations for the word Sheol are hell and land of the dead. Was Jonah in two places at the same time? Let’s look at some scriptural references for the word Sheol.
Numbers 16: 33 “So they and all that belonged to them went down alive to Sheol (hell, land of the dead) and the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly.”
Psalm 16:10 “For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol (hell, land of the dead); Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.”
Isaiah 14:15 “Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol (hell, land of the dead), To the recesses of the pit.”
Psalm 30:3 O LORD, You have brought up my soul from Sheol (hell, land of the dead); You have kept me alive, that I would not go down to the pit.
Psalm 86:13 “For Your lovingkindness toward me is great, And You have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol (hell, land of the dead).”
From these scriptures, we can safely conclude that the fish was not in Sheol. The fish was in the water but Jonah was in Sheol, hell, land of the dead. How is this possible?
DID JONAH GO TO HELL?
If Sheol is the place of the dead, then Jonah just told us he went to Sheol, hell, land of the dead. Remember the last thing Jonah did before he was thrown off the ship was, he sinned. He disobeyed God by not going to Nineveh and preach. So, he was qualified for hell. For him to get to hell he had to die, because only dead people go to Sheol, hell, land of the dead.
3 For You cast me into the deep, Into the heart of the seas,
Jonah is now unfolding the story for us. This verse explains that Jonah was not swallowed immediately after he was thrown off the ship. He went into the deep, the heart of the sea.
And the floods surrounded me; All Your billows and Your waves passed over me.
“The floods, billows, and waves” are things Jonah could not have experienced if he was in the fish’s belly. That means, at the point when he was at the deep, he was not yet swallowed by the fish.
4 Then I said, ‘I have been cast out of Your sight, Yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.’ 5 The waters surrounded me, even to my soul;
The deep closed around me; Weeds were wrapped around my head.
At this point, Jonah is still in the water, at the very bottom of the sea, not yet swallowed. Jonah knew he was drowning and was about to die, so he started praying. Not with his mouth, because he was all covered in water. I believed he was praying in his heart. Again, It is also good to note that he was at the bottom of the sea. How do we know? He said seaweeds were wrapped around his head, water surrounded him. Jonah was definitely at this point touching the mountains, or floor of the sea. If Jonah was in the fish’s belly, water would not be surrounding him and seaweeds wouldn’t be wrapped around his head.
6 I went down to the moorings of the mountains; The earth with its bars closed behind me forever; Yet You have brought up my life from the pit, O Lord, my God.
Here, not only is Jonah confirming that drowned and went down to the very bottom of the sea – “the moorings of mountains,” he is also telling us that he was brought back from the pit. What pit? Pit of hell? Did Jonah drowned and went to hell? Hell, remember is the land of the dead or Sheol. For Jonah’s life to have been brought back, he had to die. Jonah died, and his life was brought back from the pit hell, land of the dead, Sheol. Jonah was resurrected. Now we understand when he said, I cried out of Sheol or hell, land of the dead and you heard me.
7 “When my soul fainted within me,
OTHER TRANSLATIONS OF VERSE 7 SAYS
NIV “when my life was ebbing away”
NLT “as my life was slipping away”
This is when he was about to die. Did he die? He told us he went to Sheol. Since only dead people go to Sheol, he died by his own admission. He died, went to Sheol and cried from Sheol and God answered him from Sheol.
I remembered the Lord; And my prayer went up to You, Into Your holy temple. 8 “Those who regard worthless idols Forsake their own Mercy. 9 But I will sacrifice to You With the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord.”
He is now making promises for the future:
“I will sacrifice to You With the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord.”
This is what we know thus far:
- Jonah mentioned nothing about any fish thus far.
- Jonah drawn to the bottom of the sea mountains with seaweeds wrapped around his head.
- Jonah’s life was ebbing away.
- Jonah soul was in Sheol; he prayed from Sheol.
Reasonable conclusion: Jonah died!
WHY IS ALL OF THIS OF ANY IMPORTANCE?
As we shall see in the next chapter, Jonah is one of the most powerful prophet, preacher, evangelist that ever lived. Jonah is the only prophet in the Bible that Jesus compared himself to.
Jesus said, Matt 12:40 In the same way that Jonah spent three days and nights in the big fish, so will the Son of Man spend three days and nights in the depths of the earth.
WHAT IS JESUS SAYING?
- Jonah died; He will also die.
- Jonah spent three days and three nights in the belly of the fish; He will also spend three days and three nights in the belly of the earth
- Jonah was resurrected; He will also resurrect.
See, Jesus’ death on the cross was not a tragedy. It was a victory. Similarly so, Jonah’s drawing was not a tragedy, it was a prophecy. If Jesus’ comparison between Him and Jonah is a lesson, then we must understand that Jesus died, spent three days and three night in the belly of the earth and then resurrected. Likewise, Jonah died, spent three days and three nights in the belly of the fish then resurrected.
Jonah carid out to the Lord in Sheol, whiles he was dead. The Lord answered him. The Lord then commanded a big fish to go pick up Jonah’s dead body and vomit him back to land. Why did the fish take three days and three nights to get Jonah back to land? Because God at that point was prophesying about Jesus. The fish’s belly was Jonah’s grave where he spent three days and three nights after his death – just like Jesus did in the belly of the earth. Jonah gained consciousness in the belly of the fish, then continued praying in the belly of the fish as he was in Sheol. The fish then vomited him onto dry land. This fish was assigned to rescue Jonah, not eat Jonah.
10 So the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.
To be continued….