Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
Mercy and truth, or an innate tendency towards kindness, and an essential love of rectitude form the most prominent features of the revealed character of God. A God all mercy would be a God unjust. The demands of justice were rigorously exacted, and the prophet was hurled into the deep. Why such severity? Jonah had sinned presumptuously against God, and he must bear the penalty. In this phase of Jonah's experience, which we now consider, we find "mercy rejoicing against judgment."
I. THE PROPHET'S IMPRISONMENT. Note —
1. The singularity of the mode of imprisonment; the agency of God in preparing the prophet's cell. On the supposition that Jonah retained his consciousness when cast into the mighty deep, it must have been with emotions of indescribable horror that he saw the jaws of this marine monster expanding to receive him.
2. The term of Jonah's captivity. Explain Jewish reckoning "three days and three nights."
II. THE PROPHET'S PRAYER. Jonah retained his consciousness during the term of his imprisonment. Evidently we have only the substance of the prophet's prayer. Note the evidences which his spiritual exercises furnish of sanctified affliction.
1. The spiritual exercises with which the prophet's prayer is identified.
2. The conclusion of unbelief. "I am cast out from Thy sight."
3. The victory of faith. "Yet will I look again towards Thy holy temple."
4. The ardour of Jonah's gratitude.
5. His emphatic ascription. "Salvation is of the Lord." Notice the evidence of spiritual reclamation which the prophet's prayer supplies. See his altered feeling towards God: the rekindling of the spirit of devotion: the vigorous action of faith. In the expression of his faith Jonah embodied the sentiments of former saints. Jonah was evidently cured of his folly in flying from God.
III. THE PROPHET'S DELIVERANCE. This was miraculous in its character. Jonah was conveyed back safely to the Holy Land, and cast upon the dry shore. It was intended to test the sincerity of the prophet's penitence, to secure the fulfilment and success of his errand, and to typify the mission of Christ.
Parallel VersesKJV: Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.