God’s Word for You
Jonah 2:9-10 Salvation comes from the LORD
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Saturday, October 27, 2018
9 But I will once again sacrifice to you with song of praise.
What I have vowed I will fulfill.
Salvation comes from the LORD!”
This is much more than a promise to go to church. Jonah is expressing his confident faith that these words will be fulfilled. This man, a runaway prophet of the Lord, knew he would not slide down into the creature’s stomach to be digested and to slowly die in agony. Not at all. He believed firmly that he would one day return to Jerusalem. He would make a sacrifice, sing a hymn of praise, and complete a vow to the Lord.
We don’t know what vow Jonah was talking about. Had he promised to complete the mission on which the Lord had sent him? It can’t be that. He would hardly have made such a vow and then immediately run away to the port of Joppa. In the Old Testament, vows often accompany prayers. “Praise awaits you, O God, in Zion; to you our vows will be fulfilled” (Psalm 65:1); “I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD. I will fulfill my vows to the LORD” (Psalm 116:13-14); “You will pray to him, and he will hear you, and you will fulfill your vows” (Job 22:27). Luther speculates that there was no particular vow that the prophet had in mind: “We have to familiarize ourselves with the language of Scripture. Where the dead saints speak about a vow and about paying a vow, they do not have a specific vow of their own in mind but the general vow of all who constitute God’s people” (LW 19 p. 81).
Jonah’s final statement in his prayer, “Salvation comes from the LORD,” is his second confession of faith. In 1:9 we heard him confess that God is the creator of all. Now he proclaims that salvation comes only from the Lord God (a third confession is coming in 4:2). This sentence is a sermon all in itself and would be an appropriate text for any of the great Christian festivals: Christmas, Palm Sunday, Good Friday, Easter, Pentecost, and certainly for Reformation.
10 Then the LORD commanded the whale, and it vomited Jonah out onto the dry land.
Everything the whale does in this book is at the command of God. He provided the beast to rescue the prophet, and he commanded it to deposit Jonah once again on a beach. It must have swum a long way, since the sailors were evidently nowhere near land when they threw Jonah overboard. Now he is safe and sound once again, deposited somewhere on the coast of Israel, or perhaps Lebanon to the north. Normally, we would assume that the whale had only digestion in mind for a morsel like Jonah, but God put a stop to this and saved him, just as he will save us all from the grave. The grave is likewise a mindless thing that must bow to the commands of the Almighty. On the Last Day, the grave will give us up, safe and sound according to the word of Christ, and we will leave our graves to be taken up to heaven.
Since this is history and not an allegory, we need to meditate at all on the vomiting of the whale. This was simply the means for the return of the prophet to the land of the living. So it is with the restoration of our bodies, the re-knitting of our flesh “in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet” (1 Corinthians 15:52). How it will be, or what it might feel like, is irrelevant. The Scripture declares: “The dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” In heaven, we will give no more thought to death or grave, but we will give our attention fully and forever to praising our Savior Jesus.
Pastor Timothy Smith
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