“And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain — for He says, ‘AT THE ACCEPTABLE TIME I LISTENED TO YOU, AND ON THE DAY OF SALVATION I HELPED YOU’; behold, now is ‘THE ACCEPTABLE TIME,’ behold, now is ‘THE DAY OF SALVATION’” 2 Cor 6:1-2
As you read this, I ask you, reader, to be open to what I have to say here. I believe that you are reading this because God has purposed you to. I urge you to not receive God’s grace in vain, but to be open to Him and what He wants to tell you today.
“So they picked up Jonah, threw him into the sea, and the sea stopped its raging.” Jonah 1:15
Jonah requested the sailors to drop him into the sea in order for the storm to stop, thereby sparing their lives. As I wrote in my last blog entry, “Running Away: Taking Responsibility for Our Sin”, Jonah took full responsibility for his sin against God and acted accordingly.
What happens after Jonah falls into the sea is perhaps the most famous part of the story:
”And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights.” Jonah 1:17
Each of us needs to understand that there is a price for our sin. We are the ones that ultimately pay a price for our disobedience, i.e. our sin. Let’s take for example the sin of un-forgiveness; when we don’t forgive someone for their wrongdoing against us, we are the ones that end up suffering. The bitterness that consumes our lives hurts us far more than the person we hold the grudge against! In fact, he or she probably doesn’t even know or care! So why not forgive and be free from that bondage?
“Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the stomach of the fish, and he said, “I called out of my distress to the LORD, And He answered me. I cried for help from the depth of Sheol; Thou didst hear my voice. “ Jonah 2:1-2
Beyond our own personal suffering, and hurting others, there is a greater price for our sin… death. It’s interesting to note what the Hebrew says in this particular scripture. In the English translation, it’s written that Jonah was in the stomach or belly of the fish. But in Hebrew, it’s written that he was in the bowel (me’eh) of the fish. This is, literally, the place of death, a wasteland. In fact, Jonah recognized it as hell (She’ol). It was from this place of death that Jonah cried out to the Lord, confessing his own personal sins against the Lord:
“For Thou hadst cast me into the deep, Into the heart of the seas, And the current engulfed me. All Thy breakers and billows passed over me. “So I said, ‘I have been expelled from Thy sight. Nevertheless I will look again toward Thy holy temple.’ “Water encompassed me to the point of death. The great deep engulfed me, Weeds were wrapped around my head. “I descended to the roots of the mountains. The earth with its bars was around me forever, But Thou hast brought up my life from the pit, O LORD my God. “While I was fainting away, I remembered the LORD; And my prayer came to Thee, Into Thy holy temple. “Those who regard vain idols Forsake their faithfulness, But I will sacrifice to Thee. With the voice of thanksgiving. That which I have vowed I will pay. Salvation is from the LORD.” Jonah 2:3-9
When Jonah was in his deepest despair, he cried out to God, taking full responsibility for His own sin against the Lord. He did not blame others, nor did he blame God. He didn’t give any poor excuses for his sin…he simply took full responsibility for running away and disobeying God.
“Then the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah up onto the dry land. “ Jonah 2:10
Deliverance came to Jonah once he recognized, confessed, and repented of his sin. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, is a sovereign God, full of grace, mercy, and compassion. When we come before Him with a humbled heart, repenting of our sins, and acknowledging His power to save, He is quick to forgive us! He is the one that has paid the price for you and I.
In closing, salvation is from the Lord and the Lord alone. If you are yet to put your faith in the saving grace of our Savior, Yeshua the Messiah, I would like to encourage you to do so now. If you have put your trust in Him in the past, but have been running away, please remember that God wants you to return to Him, and that all you need to do is to repent, just like Jonah did, and turn away from your sin.
Again, please don’t take God’s grace in vain. Today is the day of salvation; today is the day of repentance.
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