#734. THE SIGN OF JONAH (23/1/23) )
‘Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.’ (Jonah 1:17)
Summary: ‘The sign of Jonah’ means that Jonah’s 3 days in the depths of the sea signpost us to Jesus’s 3 days in the grave and His resurrection giving us freedom and victory.
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In the book of Jonah, we have seen that Jonah was called by God to go and preach to the people of Nineveh. However, Jonah disobeyed God and ran away on a ship in the opposite direction. As a result, God sent a storm ending with Jonah being thrown overboard and swallowed by a large fish. Here, in the dark and deep for ‘three days and three nights, He will learn humility, prayer and worship.
It’s important to notice that Jesus refers to His three days in the tomb as ‘the sign of the prophet Jonah’:
‘He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here.’ (Matthew 12:39-41)
The story of Jonah is a ‘sign’ because it foreshadowed Jesus' own death and resurrection, where Jesus was ‘swallowed up by death’ for three days before rising from the dead. The miracle of Jonah’s very strange circumstances is a reminder of Jesus’ death and resurrection for our salvation.
What does this sign of Jonah speak to us about?
1. God will protect us in the depths and darkness. Jesus death and resurrection speaks of His power over all things and He has not forsaken us.
2. The sign of Jonah speaks to us of justification for peace. As Jonah being thrown into the storm brought peace to the raging sea, so Jesus being thrown into death for us has give us justification and peace with God no matter how we feel.
3. The sign of Jonah speaks of hope. As Jonah was vomited onto the shore so Jesus was raised to life. His resurrection speaks to us of our future resurrection and the restoration of all things.
RESPONSE - RECALL THE SIGN OF JONAH
When we are fearful, recall the sign of Jonah. Recall his power over creation. Recall His power to protect. Recall His power to release you from the depths. Most importantly, allow the sign of Jonah to signpost you to Jesus’ death and resurrection to give us freedom and hope.
COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY
It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.
Please try to use the COME TO JESUS DAILY DEVOTIONALS (blog). This will help us to get deep into this book together. There is also a video option if that helps (Ensure that everyone knows how to access this)
What has God been speaking to you about from His Word this week?
3. RECAP OF SUNDAY’S MESSAGE - PLEASE SHARE IN YOUR GROUP
IN THE BELLY OF THE FISH
Please read Jonah 1:17-2:10
BIG IDEA: SUFFERING LEADS TO DEEPER DARKNESS OR GROWTH AND GRATITUDE.
Jonah, after running away from God’s call to go the Nineveh, ends up being thrown into the sea and into the belly of a huge fish for 3 days and nights. Here, in his suffering, Jonah has a choice: He can descend into greater darkness or he can turn to God in trust, prayer and worship.
I’m sure that we’ve all had the experience for feeling lost and afraid. What’s our response? How would we answer: In my distress I…
Jonah's response was to exhort himself to turn to God in prayer and worship, acknowledging God's greatness and mercy; choosing not to let his mistakes and dark circumstances rob him of faith.
Jonah’s 3 days in the fish, are spoken of by Jesus as ‘the sign of Jonah’(Matthew 12:39-41). Just as Jonah was 3 days in the heart of the sea, so Jesus was 3 days in the grave for our salvation. As Jonah was given a second chance and was brought out into light and life to serve God, so, Jesus' death and resurrection give us life and hope.
Finally, God commanded to fish to vomit Jonah onto the beach. With God -the God of resurrection - there is always the opportunity to return - to repent - and come back to a place of prayer, worship, obedience and hope.
On Sunday, we discussed the importance of SIV - a strategy of building relationships to bring others to Jesus. The three key elements of SIV include serving the real needs of others, investing time to deepen relationships, and inviting individuals into church community and events such as Alpha. By actively engaging in these actions, and through prayer, we trust that we will have opportunities to share the gospel and lead others to a deeper understanding and relationship with God through Christ. If you missed it, you might find it helpful to watch this interview with Yves together:
Why and how can suffering lead to deeper darkness or growth and gratitude?
How would you answer: ‘In my distress, I…’?
What aspects of Jonah’s prayer inspire you and why?
How have you Served, Invested and Invited in your communities this week? (Let’s share about this again next week)
How have you got on with making a list and praying for your non-believing friends each day? (Let’s share about this again next week)
Let’s now pray for specific people that God has put on your heart and in your life.
Let’s pray for each other that the Spirit would fill us with His resurrection power so as to be compassionate and courageous this week.