How can we bury something so precious as salvation under the dust of jargon? God teaches Jonah a lesson he will never forget. Salvation, all the glory of being rescued by God—through Jesus’s atoning sacrifice and rescued to God—is a gift he graciously gives. The check is in his name and the rewards come to us. Let us never look at salvation as a dusty old relic but as a diamond to be displayed and treasured!
My wife and I love discounts. The only thing better than getting one item at a discount is getting it in bulk. So, a few years ago, we had a Costco rewards check we were excited to use. When my wife tried to pay using the check though, she was unable to redeem the savings. The check had my name on it so she could not use it. The savings belonged to me technically.
I love the book of Jonah for it shows how God is always teaching Jonah. His classroom is in the belly of a fish, beneath the shade of a plant, and under a scorching sun. In every place, Jonah learns important lessons about himself and about God. The most important lesson being that salvation belongs to the Lord. His name is on the check. He owns the right to cash it in.
Salvation is a word often buried under the dust of Christian jargon. People have fallen asleep in the front row, only a few feet from me, while I preach on salvation. I was tempted to lash out at how indifferent they were to this great truth, but then I remembered how many times I’ve checked sports scores or social media during similar sermons. No one is immune to brushing past the dust covered diamond of salvation.
Saved By God From God
The story of the prophet Jonah teaches us that salvation belongs to the Lord. God says as much at the end of the book (4:10–11), and Jonah says so in the fish’s belly (2:9). Like Adam in the garden, when Jonah sins, he tries to hide. He boards a boat to “flee from the presence of the Lord.” While on the boat, however, he learns there is no running from the Lord.
God has strong feelings about sin. He doesn’t treat it lightly; he hurls a storm at Jonah (1:4). Jonah sees that he needs rescuing, but not from the storm. He needs to be rescued from God. There is nowhere he can run to and no one who can bargain with God for his life. So how can he be rescued? God has to do it. Only God can appoint a fish to swallow him (1:17) and then bring up his “life from the pit” (2:6).
Most people fight against the idea that they need God to rescue them. We live in a culture where there is a technique for fixing just about anything. You can find books and TED talks about losing weight, rehabbing a house, or managing anger. Whatever the issue, our culture says there is a technique to fix it—and if not, then just create one. Even the sailors on the boat row against the storm rather than submit to God’s way of salvation (1:13).
Yet, as hard as we try, we cannot cash in the check for salvation written in our own strength. All their rowing could not get the sailors out of the storm. There is no technique to solve the problem. Only God can save us from God. We receive the riches of salvation when we submit to God’s savior. Salvation belongs to the Lord.