Read Jonah 2
Jonah 2:1 - “Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God.”
Jonah did not pray when the storm was raging. He slept. From the fish’s belly, however, he prayed. He prayed to the Lord. Jonah 2:2 says that Jonah cried to the Lord from “the belly of hell.” Are the fish’s belly and the belly of hell (or Sheol) the same place? If they are the same, would not the Holy Spirit have used the same word in both instances?
There are two different words translated “belly” in these two verses. In the first instance, it is the word “me-ah,” which means “an abdomen.” In the second instance, it is the word “betan,” which means “a hollow place.” The idea given is that immediately after Jonah was swallowed and was still alive and conscious, he prayed.
He did not survive long; for, soon after, he cried from Sheol. Jonah prayed from the fish’s abdomen and cried to God from “the hollow place of Sheol.” If this is so, the miracle is not that Jonah remained alive for three days, but that he died and after three days and nights arose from his grave in the belly of the fish. This would be very much in keeping with what our Lord said in Matthew 12, “As Jonah was…so shall the Son of man be three days and nights in the heart of the earth.” This makes Jonah the perfect type.
Jonah had an appalling experience. Jonah also knew that he was being punished. Jonah 2:3 says, “Thou hast cast me into the deep.” Jonah’s prayer:
Jonah 2:3 - “All Thy waves and billows passed over me.”
Jonah 2:4 - “I am cast out of Thy sight.”
Jonah 2:5 - “Weeds were wrapped about my head.”
Jonah 2:6 - “I went down to the bottoms of the mountains.”
Jonah 2:7 - “The earth with its bars was about me forever.”
In the midst of this distressing situation, “His soul fainted…He remembered the Lord… and he prayed.” This moment parallels the moment that occurs within the story of prodigal son.
Then Jonah said, “I will pay my vows.” In other words, he said, “I will yield to your desires.”
[Describe the awful cost of Naomi]
Some examples of salvation:
“If I am to be saved, then You must do it for salvation is of the Lord.”
Exodus 14:13 - “Stand still and see the salvation of God.”
Acts 4:12 - “Neither is there salvation in any other.”
Immediately Jonah acknowledged this and so “the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited him upon the dry land.”
I want to go back to a word in Jonah 2:2, “Hell…Sheol.” The Old Testament word “Sheol” equates with the New Testament word “Hades.” It is the place of departed spirits. It was a compartment that was divided into two. One was for the believers who died in faith and the other was for unbelievers who died in their sin. Luke 16 gives us a glimpse of both.
[Describe the place of the damned and how there exists both memory and remorse]
[Describe the place of the blessed and how they have been carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom, a place of peace, safety, contentment, and security]
Before Calvary and the resurrection, everyone who died, both saved and lost, went to this place called Sheol or Hades.
Why did the souls of the Old Testament believers go to Sheol rather than directly into the presence of God in heaven?
The answer lies in the nature of God and the fact of sin. God is so holy and sin is so terribly repugnant to Him that He could not allow anyone with un-atoned sin to come into His presence. Until the precious blood of Christ was shed, there could be no absolute payment for sin. Before Calvary, God forgave sin. By the blood of the animal sacrifice, sin was covered; it was never put away. So these people went to a temporary abode at death and remained there until the resurrection of Christ.
Hebrews 1:3 - “When He had purged our sin.”
Hebrews 10:12 - “But this man after He had offered one […]”
Hebrews 9:26 - “Once in the end of the age . . . to put away sin.”
When a believer dies today, he does not go to Hades, but into the presence of God. Sin has been dealt with, it is put away. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:8, “We are confident and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” Philippians 1:23 says, “For I am in a strait between two, having a desire to depart and to be with Christ, which is far better.”