Jonah 2.8 They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.
What a lot of meat to chew on in this verse! This is a reminder of the Israelites in 2 Kings: they knew God, they knew His commandments, they knew He loved them and had saved them; and yet, they chose to follow the heathen practices of their neighbors. God called those ways vanity:
2 Kings 17.14 – 16a Notwithstanding they would not hear, but hardened their necks, like to the neck of their fathers, that did not believe in the LORD their God. And they rejected his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers, and his testimonies which he testified against them; and they followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the heathen that were round about them, concerning whom the LORD had charged them, that they should not do like them. And they left all the commandments of the LORD their God.
In Jeremiah 10, God points out the foolishness (vanity) of preparing their own idols from wood or silver, and then worshiping / receiving instruction from them. And then, Jeremiah 16 portrays the wonder of the people that God would pronounce this great evil against them: “What is our iniquity? or what is our sin that we have committed against the LORD our God?” (v10)
We simply cannot expect the blessings and mercies of God when we are disobedient. He told us so in in the whole Old Testament, especially in Deuteronomy (and especially Chapter 28).
We are without excuse:
Romans 1.19 – 21 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
God has made Himself clearly plain:
Psalms 98.2 The LORD hath made known his salvation: his righteousness hath he openly shewed in the sight of the heathen.
Christians are called by God’s grace, and given His Holy Spirit – divine wisdom. We can live day – by – day for His blessings. We can pray that we see His blessings.
Beloved, we cannot imagine the blessings God has for us when we obey!
2 Corinthians 2.9 But as it is written [in Isaiah 64.4], Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
His blessings are so magnanimous and beautiful that we cannot even imagine them!
May we pray fervently “unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3.20) that we will read His Word, and obey Him Who loves us so deeply and widely!
In that belly of the fish, Jonah recognized that God’s ways are not his ways, and that he forsook the mercies of God by following the vanity of lies he preferred.
How often do we do this? We feel that tap on the shoulder that this activity or person is not what the Lord intends for us; we feel that caution, and we know it’s from God that we should not enter into what is ahead of us.
We will never know the blessings we forsake when we go our own way. We think we can imagine the blessings of following our ways, and it looks good – enticing. Even in the details, we may think this little thing is not going to make any difference. We cannot imagine the peace God will give us when we obey. We think that it will be worth it to go ahead with this sin this time.
And we forsake our own mercies.
But God always blesses obedience! When we weigh our options, we cannot imagine any kind of blessing by rejecting this thing we love; we can only feel how good it would be to follow the sin. But we can listen to and obey that still small voice, that one Who tells us to walk to the right or to the left.
Isaiah 30.20, 21 And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers: And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.
When we recognize this, when we run to God in the face of sin, we run blindly. But when we run to Him anyway, this is FAITH. God will increase this faith, and He will BLESS you!
Isaiah 55.6 – 12 Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Jonah 2.9 tells of Jonah’s final, encompassing confession: “Salvation is of the Lord.” He humbled himself, and gave himself up to whatever God wanted for him.
God directed the fish to vomit Jonah out upon the dry land (v 10). Note that Jonah still could not save himself – God did not direct Jonah to crawl out of the fish. Jonah’s tribulation and deliverance were completely under God’s control.
So are ours. Submit to God.
James 4.7 – 10 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.