What a wonder God’s salvation is!
Reformed Free Publishing Association
This article was written by Rev. Ronald Hanko and will be published in the April 15, 2021 issue of The Standard Bearer.
What a wonder God’s salvation is! He used every means to save Jonah—the storm, the rebuke of the heathen sailors, and the specially prepared fish. He then used a disobedient prophet to bring the gospel to the Ninevites, first making him a demonstration of His great salvation in the way of Jonah’s disobedience and its consequences. He made Jonah such a living example, because even after he repented, Jonah remained reluctant and grudging, trying to fulfil his commission by proclaiming only Nineveh’s imminent destruction.
The sign and miracle of the prophet Jonah should remind us of what Paul says in Romans 11:33-36: “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.” Jonah was a sign indeed, but so are we all, for whether grown up in a covenant family or rescued from the gutter, whether coming to faith at a very early age or believing in Christ in the last moments of one’s life, we all—saved by the grace of God in Jesus Christ dead, buried, descended into hell and risen again—point to Him as the only fountain and source of salvation. We do that by our witness and words, by our life of obedience, but also simply in being saved, lost and dead sinners that we are.
Like the storm God sent on the Mediterranean Sea, the fish that swallowed Jonah was Jonah’s fish, specially prepared by God for Jonah, used by God to bring His disobedient prophet to repentance and then also to put him back on the way to Nineveh. God used a fish only in that instance, while in other instances He uses a sermon, years of covenant instruction, the witness of a friend or neighbor, the example of godly wife or husband, employer or employee; but salvation is always a miracle and the miracle is always the miracle of God’s grace in Christ.
We still sing it, thinking not of Jonah but of ourselves:
They that traffic on the sea,
While unceasing watch they keep,
See Jehovah’s majesty
And His wonders in the deep;
For He bids the stormwind fly,
Lifting ocean’s waves on high.
By the billows heavenward tossed,
Down to dreadful depths again,
Troubled much, their courage lost,
Reeling, they like drunken men
Find their skill and power o’erthrown;
None can save but God alone.
To Jehovah then they cry
In their trouble, and He saves,
Drives the darkness from the sky,
Calms the storm and stills the waves,
Makes their sad forebodings cease,
To their haven guides in peace.
The Psalter (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2018), #295 (Ps.107).
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