When my life was fainting away,
I remembered the LORD,
and my prayer came to you,
into your holy temple.
The mercy and grace of God to Jonah is so breathtaking it almost makes your heart skip a beat. Jonah is going down to his death underneath the sea. He deserves to drown due to his rebellion toward the Almighty and his apathy toward the unbelief of the pagan sailors. Before his lungs burst, he is able to eek out a prayer to the Lord. He is certain that the Lord will hear him.
- It is grace that he knows that the Almighty both can and will hear him in spite of his rebellion.
- It is grace that there is a Temple in which the Lord, above the Ark of the Covenant, makes his presence known to his people.
- It is grace that the Lord condescends to hear – from his Temple – Jonah’s words of repentance and contrition, as He initially promised in Deuteronomy 30, five centuries before Solomon made his Temple dedication-requests for mercy in 1 Kings 8, and more than six centuries before Jonah cries out from the depths.
- It is grace that the Lord crushed Jonah in such a manner that He could learn that the Lord’s mercy will extend as far as the bottom of the sea. Jonah gets a hugely memorable experience of God’s eternal, covenant love.
- It is grace that God gave Jonah the faculties to mentally calculate something like, “Lord, you are in your Temple, and you said that if someone cried out to you that you would hear. If there is any way you can rescue me – mercifully, mightily, miraculously, and majestically – please forgive my rebellion and come save me, for salvation belongs to you.”
- It is grace that this experience reveals the holiness of God to Jonah – “your holy Temple” (Heb. היכל קדשך) – and thus Jonah’s sinfulness before this holy God.
It is grace to us that we have the story of Jonah, the sign of Jonah, and the antitype of Jonah in Christ. His mercy to us on the Cross and in vacating the grave is greater than being rescued from drowning at the bottom of the sea.
A resource highlighting the grace and mercy of God: Richard D. Phillips’ commentary on Jonah.