by: Jeff Schrage
This week as we consider Jonah, we are going to look at a man in despair, literally sinking into the depths. Where does he look to find comfort and rest? Where does he go when confined in the belly of a fish, as he feels his life, both spiritual and physical, fading away? Where does he look for deliverance?
As you read the record of Jonah’s prayer, you see that it is picturesque poetry. He is crying out from the depths and many of his thoughts reflect a knowledge of the Psalms. The reality of this story is that Jonah is confined in a very cramped prison, with limited movement, and very strange sensory things going on around him. It is not like Pinocchio where both he and Geppetto, while manning a raft with a sail, stand in what could be described as a great hall. Jonah was stuck, without a scroll, in utter darkness. Yet, he relied on the Word of God. The prayer he prayed is saturated with Scriptural truth and recollections of bits and pieces of the Psalms. It is a beautiful poetic representation that reaches down and touches our souls. We can understand the picture he has painted and be encouraged by the humble confidence in God.
Jonah in struggle turned to the only means by which we can know God, who His, and what he expects of mankind. When you want to know what to do, how to pray, how to worship, how to live a God honoring life, we can look to only one place and that is the Scriptures. In the church we have documents that seek to take the truth of Scripture and make it orderly and understandable to those who follow Christ. The Westminster Shorter Catechism teaches us that the Scriptures are “the only rule of faith and obedience (Q.3)” and that they “principally teach, what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man (Q.5)”
These questions present the foundational truths about the church that we see illustrated in the story of Jonah. Without the Word of God, Jonah would have been lost at the bottom of the ocean, with no hope of restoration. However, with the promises of God in his mind and flowing from his heart in prayer, he knows to cry out to God from “the roots of the mountain.”
The Word of God is the chief means by which the Holy Spirit will work in your life. Are you hiding them in your heart to have them at hand when you are in the depths or stormy seasons of this life? Are you able to recall the promises and power of the truth presented in the Word? When you have a challenge, can you bring to mind any soothing and inspired word from God? If not, then you do not see the fullness of the power of the Word of God to minister to you through the Holy Spirit. Knowing the Word will inform your spiritual life and give fodder for the Holy Spirit to preach the truth to your soul. If you do not know the Words that God has for you, you cannot bring them to mind in the moments when you need them.
This a wonderful call to return to the source of all our knowledge about God. The only way that we know God is because He revealed himself to us in the Scriptures. View Bible as the divine love revealing letter that it, telling you what you must do to grow in love and obedience and to complete the calling that He has made on your life. Only by the Gospel of God contained in the Word of God can we find salvation. But, it is also only through the Word of God that we can find comfort as we travel the Christian journey in a fallen world. Let us not forget the eternal Word of God. Let us not forget the promises of God. Let us not forget the grace that the Word of God has for the life of the believer, if we will but listen.