Grace Can Change a Hard Heart

When The Grace of God is Only Understood in the Belly of a Whale

Jonah Chapter 2

The Problems With Grace Part 2

Nov 8, 2015 AM

Pastor Craig Ledbetter

Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland

I.       Introduction (Jonah 4:2)


God’s grace is simply amazing!

A.    What is God’s Grace?


1.      God, being kind to us when we deserve wrath and judgment!

2.      It’s kind, when we deserve harshness

3.      It’s patience, when we deserve none

4.      It’s life changing, when WE should be the ones to change on our own

5.      It sacrifices self, for someone else, especially when they are so undeserving

6.      Who wouldn’t WANT to experience God’s grace, and enjoy it every day!!!


B.     But not everybody LIKES God’s grace


1.      Some people STRUGGLE with God’s goodness and kindnesses

2.      Especially when God is nice to our enemies and wants to save them instead of judge them!


C.    Jonah is one of those guys who did NOT like God being kind to his enemies


1.      The Ninevites were an evil empire to the North east of Israel

2.      They had massacred tens of thousands of his own nation

3.      Now, the Jewish people deserved God’s judgment for all their rebellious sins against God

4.      But the Ninevites did NOT deserve God’s kindness

5.      Jonah wanted the righteous wrath of God poured out on the Ninevites because of all they had done against his family, and people and nation!

6.      Yet God wanted to save the Ninevites


D.    The book of Jonah was written to tell about one man’s struggle with GRACE – Jonah’s


1.      Before God could show such amazing grace towards the Ninevites, He had to teach Jonah about grace

2.      Imagine having to write a book about your own bad attitude towards God’s grace!

3.      Think about it… That God would even ASK Jonah to go and give the Ninevites the opportunity to NOT experience the wrath of God was just too much to handle!

4.      Jonah had such a bad response to the grace of God that he quit on God.

5.      WHY would Jonah, a man of God, someone who heard the voice of God, who knew the power of God… why would he instantly quit on God and run from God and switch off from obeying God?

6.      There is no logic folks. It is in all of us!

7.      But When we understand God’s grace towards US, we will enjoy watching it poured out upon even our enemies!!!


E.     Grace can change even the hardest heart. If only that heart would let it!


1.      Not everyone WANTS to be broken - Not every person WANTS to be saved

2.      Some people LOVE their hard hearts just the way they are – hard (Zech 7:11,12)


But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear. Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the LORD of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the LORD of hosts.


F.     But, instead of trying to change yourself, and get rid of your anger, wrath, bitterness, and stubbornness ladies and gentlemen… why not just do what Jonah does, and surrender to God’s hand on your life – it is a gracious hand, a firm hand, and a loving hand!


1.      Most people are so frustrated with how hard they are

2.      But the more they try and change, fix themselves, the more frustrated and angry and hard they get

3.      They need a whale experience to help them

4.      That whale was the grace of God, as you will see!


II.    Message


A.    A Stubborn Man (1:17; 2:1)


1.      Where do we find Jonah? IN the belly of a whale (1:17) – think about it!


a.       Jesus said it is true (Matthew 12:40,41)


2.      For how long?


a.       Three long days and three long nights

b.      He sat there for one day, and never asked God for help, never prayed, never said he was sorry

c.       And then another whole day, silent

d.      And then a whole other day, silent

e.       After everything that Jonah had been through…


1)      A relentless storm

2)      Being confronted about his running away from God

3)      Being thrown overboard

4)      Then swallowed by a whale

5)      Now he has truly hit “rock bottom”


f.       Jonah sat in that dark, icky, squishy, yucky stomach waiting to die…

g.      And he didn’t die!

h.      It took THREE DAYS of rotting in hydrochloric acid to finally break his stubborn will.

i.        Isn’t it amazing how long Jonah sit in there, STUBBORNLY?!


3.      THEN Jonah prayed!


a.       Note the word THEN – that is a very big word, packed with meaning!


1)      WHY does it take so long for people to finally admit that God wins?

2)      How long does it take for God to break YOUR will? YEARS? Months?

3)      Wouldn't it be great if God HAD all of our will, and could bend it and direct it? It is a scary thought isn’t it?


b.      Notice the words “his God”


1)      Jehovah was not just THE God, but Jonah calls Him “HIS God.”

2)      That was the problem Jonah had with God

3)      He had a relationship with God

4)      And that changed and limited his life.

5)      You see, This is not just a battle between God and man, but God and His child!


4.      And that's why God didn't let Jonah go – because Jonah was God's child – just like every believer is a son of God


a.       Pay attention to these details, because we will come back to this point when we start to notice God’s GRACE in Jonah’s life!

b.      God won't let YOU go your own way either – not without serious consequences

c.       That's one of the ways someone knows they are saved!

d.      GRACE: Oh that OUR walk with God and relationship with God would bind our hearts like a fetter to Him and His will, even when we WANT to run!


5.      Just one question… What does it take to get you to pray?


a.       Disaster? Pressures?

b.      Kind of dumb don’t you think to wait until THEN!


B.     An Afflicted Man (2:2)


1.      Jonah had been a greatly blessed man – used by God all over northern Israel

2.      But now, here, in this belly of a beast, he is an afflicted man


a.       AFFLICTION, trouble, pressure, pain – all worked together to break Jonah

b.      It was his affliction that caused Jonah to start praying again. He hadn't prayed evidently in a long time.


3.      Jonah first CRIED – crying out – quite defeated and upset now. Emotions. It is VERY good to have emotions, and express them, especially to God!

4.      He then BELIEVED - “he (GOD) heard me”


a.       God didn't hold it against Jonah that he had run away from him, and tried to fight Him and His will. When Jonah broke and owned up to his need for God, God instantly heard him and answered him, even though Jonah was in the very worst place you could imagine! Jonah referred to it as the belly of HELL!

b.      NOT that Jonah was in hell – he was still in the belly of the whale, and quite alive!

c.       But thankfully, even THERE, God heard him, and was just waiting to get him out of there and back on-track for Nineveh!


5.      GRACE: That God still wanted to use a bad attitude, stubborn, hard headed, bitter, backslidden man!!! That God loved Jonah.


6.      He then PRAISED! Jonah had learned that God was being GOOD all along when He afflicted him – just as David learned


a.       Psa 119:67  Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.

b.      Psa 119:71  It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.

c.       Psa 119:75  I know, O LORD, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.


C.    A Repentant Man (2:3,4)


1.      Now, Jonah acknowledges that GOD had been chastening him. God had been responsible for being caught in the storm, cast into the sea, now in the belly of a whale!


a.       Those were not just any waves, and billows – they were GOD ORDAINED slams against that ship that Jonah had so trusted to be ale to take him far away from God!

b.      Whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth (Heb 12:6)

c.       Admits he had not ended up like he had hoped


1)      He thought HE could be in control and could walk away and feel fine about it all. He could just end up on a beach somewhere in southern Spain

2)      But instead he admits he has ended up cast away – thrown out of sight from God

3)      What a way to feel


d.      It is one thing to walk away from God...

e.       It is another to feel God has walked away from you, and closed the door behind Him!


2.      Here Jonah repents! Repentance is when:


a.       Your will is broken and submitted to God’s will

b.      You are sorry for your actions

c.       You admit you are wrong, and God is right


3.      Jonah makes up his mind – that he will look again towards heaven in obedient faith!


a.       In the midst of pain, sorrow, affliction, despondency, darkness (remember, he is IN a whale's stomach) Jonah makes a choice to pray again! To turn back to God!

b.      Not toward mecca, or towards Jerusalem... Solomon’s Jewish Temple was in Jerusalem

c.       Jonah was INSIDE a whale with no light, no compass, no way to know where Jerusalem was!

d.      Jonah looks towards heaven – UP

e.       When you are THIS FAR DOWN, the only way to look, is UP!

f.       Thank God there is an UP!

g.      Jonah realised that God, in kindness had not killed him; had not condemned him; only chastened him, and afflicted him. And that he could still get right with God!  “If I am cast away, this one thing will I do, I will still look to God.” Magnificent faith! Humanly speaking, all hope was gone, yet Jonah still believed God!


4.      No wonder Paul was able to say the same! (Act 27:25)  Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.


5.      GRACE: Waited on Jonah to repent. 2Pe 3:9  The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.


6.      THANK God for grace before wrath!


a.       Judgment, justice, wrath will never change a hard heart – it just dooms it! The wrath of man does not change the guilty. It just condemns him!

b.      So, before wrath, God always offers GRACE, kindness, and makes an opportunity to for the guilty to repent

c.       Jonah realised he DESERVED God’s wrath, and even welcomed it at first, but then finally realised that it was a stupid desire to quit and want to die.

d.      He enjoyed God’s mercy much more than God’s judgment!


D.    A Revived Man (2:5-8)


1.      Listen to the description of Jonah's predicament: (2:5)


a.       Waters all around him – he is sloshing in it

b.      He was closed-in on to his very soul.  His soul was reached – touched (most of the time only our intellect is touched, but not our heart or our soul)

c.       He was surrounded by weeds around his head. He could feel them. Couldn’t escape being trapped, and yucky all over!

d.      His skin was slowly being digested

e.       That whale didn't stay at sea level (2:6)


1)      It was descending

2)      Jonah could sense the whale was going down, down, down, down into the deepest depths of the Mediterranean Sea – to the very bottom of the mountains

3)      The earth's bars were all around him

4)      1,500 metres on average, 5,267 metres at deepest part


2.      YET, God kept him alive


a.       GOD kept him from dying

b.      Protected him from the incredible pressures! At least 2182 pounds per square inch were pressing on him from all directions (almost 150 times the pressure of air at sea level)


3.      WHEN my soul fainted… (2:7)


a.       When Jonah completely fainted emotionally

b.      It was THEN that Jonah remembered the Lord

c.       He finally SPIRIUALLY woke up – a REVIVAL!

d.      Like the prodigal son (Luke 15:17)

e.       Like the thief on the cross


4.      And That is when Jonah started praying these words, and he knew he was heard all the way up in heaven - “thy holy temple”

5.      We call this last-minute religion, but thank God it still works!


a.       Now, not everyone has a chance for last-minute repentance!!!

b.      You only have NOW!


6.      Jonah was restored to God


a.       God was working not to kill Jonah, but to restore Jonah to Himself

b.      Jonah refers to God as “LORD” – that is a big word! It means, the Boss

c.       And again calls Jehovah, “MY GOD” – very personal way of talking

d.      THAT’S the way to talk about God!

e.       It’s like when David wrote in Psalm 23, “the LORD is MY Shepherd…”

f.       If He is not YOUR God, not YOUR shepherd, then you are in trouble!


E.     A Wise Man (2:8)


1.      This is why we know Jonah repented!


a.       He realised just how stupid he had been – to believe such lying vanities!

b.      He no longer will Observe or Believe lying vanities

c.       Will no longer abandon the very mercies of God in order to believe selfish lies!


2.      Examples of LIES people believe instead of God:


a.       Believe that statues and idols and angels can answer your prayers

b.      Believe in horoscope predictions – they are lies that appeal to your vanity!

c.       Believe their own feelings

d.      Believe God is dead, so they can live any way they want to now


3.      Jonah is owning up to believing his own selfish lies that he had switched to

4.      And because he switched his beliefs, he left God’s wonderful place of mercy!


F.     A Resolved Man (2:9)


1.      He says… “But” (there are a few good ‘buts’ in the book of Jonah)

2.      Makes a CHOICE – Jonah makes up his mind what is right to do, and does it


a.       Do you realise that if you made a choice to sin, to rebel, to fight God…

b.      You CAN make the choice to repent, and to submit, and to obey God?!


3.      Decides, “I will sacrifice”


a.       My will - I will do what you want Lord

b.      My life - even when it costs me everything


4.      I will keep my vow of serving God with my life, until death – had made that vow years before when God saved him and called him to be a prophet!

5.      And I will do it with a thankful heart – the hardest part!

6.      PRAISES God! Salvation, deliverance comes from Jehovah


a.       He believed God would deliver him BEFORE he experienced it!!!!!

b.      (remember, Jonah is STILL in the dark belly of a whale)

c.       Believe salvation for yourself folks!

d.      It’s the only way to believe God!


G.    Jonah Gets A Second Chance (2:10)


1.      THAT is when God told the whale to vomit Jonah up onto dry land

2.      God put him back on dry land.


a.       God could have ignored Jonah’s repentance

b.      Left him in that whale

c.       Could have made him swim to shore!

d.      But God had GRACE for Jonah – kindness!


3.      Back on target to do God’s will


a.       Here was Jonah, maybe a week behind schedule, starting to make the journey he SHOULD have started a week earlier. That was okay!


4.      Back right with God! God truly saved Jonah – converted him from rebellion back to obedient.


a.       Now, God is not finished with working on Jonah – Jonah still has the bad attitude towards the enemies of God

b.      But at least he is doing God's will


5.      THANK GOD when God is patient with you, because he is trying to give you chance after chance, even though you fail and fall time after time!

6.      Just remember, NOT everyone gets a second chance!


III. Did you notice all the GRACE that God showed Jonah?


A.    God won't let YOU go your own way – not without serious consequences


1.      God didn’t just LET Jonah go

2.      That’s not cruel

3.      That's one of the ways someone knows they are saved! That they belong to God!

4.      When someone NEVER gets in trouble, when they never feel grieved about their sin, their anger, their bitterness, their lusts, their apathy… then they are not born again!


B.     GRACE binds our hearts like a fetter to Him and His will, even when we WANT to run!


1.      Grace is a matter of the HEART, not the mind

2.      God in His grace, LOVED Jonah, and Jonah knew it and felt it, even when he was stubborn and rebellious against Him!


C.    God’s GRACE sought to change Jonah!!!


1.      All of us have some very rough edges – Jonah was no exception!

2.      God in His grace and kindness saved Jonah – converted him from rebellion back to obedient.

3.      How did God bring Jonah to this place?


a.       Through all the tribulations, all the pressure, and affliction

b.      None of it was punishment

c.       It was all the goodness of God. Rom 2:4  Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?


4.      Now, God is not finished with working on Jonah – Jonah still has the bad attitude towards the enemies of God

5.      But at least Jonah is doing God's will

6.      Will YOU choose to do what God says do in His word? Or does God need to bring in the WHALE???


D.    GRACE is when God still wants to use a bad attitude, stubborn, hard headed, bitter, backslidden man!!!


1.      God did not hate Jonah… He just loved Nineveh too!

2.      And God knew what He was doing when he asked the WORST prophet to preach to the Ninevites

3.      God KNEW Jonah would run, and have to be swallowed by a whale, and would stay stubborn for 72 hours before cracking and surrendering his will

4.      And God used all that as an example of His Son BEING HATED by God’s people, and judged, and killed, and buried for HOW LONG??? (Matthew 12:40,41)

5.      Grace can use anybody! And by the way, Grace WILL use anybody that God thinks is just right for the job

6.      EVEN when the person doesn’t agree!


E.     GRACE WAITS on stubborn people to repent. 2Pe 3:9  The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.


1.      Wake up folks and see the fact that you and I aren’t dead yet for all our running from God as GRACE!

2.      How long have you made God wait?


a.       Three days?

b.      Three weeks?

c.       Three decades?


3.      Just realise that time may be up with you at any moment!


F.     GRACE seeks to restore rebels back to God – not ruin their lives, but save them


1.      Mark 2:17  When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

2.      John 12:47  … I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.

3.      That’s WHY Jesus came lowly and meek the first time

4.      Because the NEXT time He shows up, it will be to judge the world!


G.    GRACE put Jonah back on his feet – back on dry land.


1.      God could have ignored Jonah’s repentance; left him in that whale; could have made him swim to shore! But God had GRACE for Jonah – kindness!

2.      Isn’t it amazing how many times God has allowed you to end up back on your feet instead of in a hole in the ground?

3.      What has God done? He has put you back in a place where you can get back to serving Him and doing what He asks you to do!


H.    And we haven’t really focused on the grace of God towards the wicked Ninevites! That’s next week!



V.    Invitation


A.    Salvation, deliverance comes only from Jehovah – not a religion, a church, a prayer, a good work


1.      Believe it for yourself folks!

2.      What kind of tribulations, all the pressure, and affliction have brought YOU to this place?

3.      It is a GREAT place to be - it is God’s GRACE that seeks to change you and still use you!!!



B.     You probably would have rather just be left alone

C.     But you are too important to God. Your soul is worth more than the whole world in value


1.      That’s why JESUS took the beatings, the whippings, the nailing of His body onto the cross

2.      For you

3.      And he just won’t let you go


D.    Jesus waits for you to finally break and admit you are running from Him, and cry out to Him to save you


1.      He will!

2. Guaranteed!