Salvation is of the Lord 

adapted from PCC Prayer Meeting Exhortation on 31 Dec 2010 

“But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD” (Jonah 2:9).

Jonah is a famous prophet. Even our children know him. He was that prophet of Israel who tried to run away from God. God had sent him to Nineveh to preach to the Assyrians. But Jonah hated the Assyrians. He refused to go. Instead, he hopped on a boat that was heading to Tarshish in the opposite direction. God sent a great storm. Jonah was forced to own up to the pagan sailors that it was because of him that God sent the storm. He suggested for them to throw him overboard, and they eventually did.

The storm then ceased; but God sent a huge fish or a whale to swallow Jonah. I believe it was a whale as indicated in the King James translation of Matthew 12:40.

Jonah repented of his rebellious obstinacy. God instructed the whale to spit him out at Nineveh; and he proceeded to preach to the people. So powerful was the ministry of the Word that there was national repentance at Nineveh, much to Jonah’s chagrin.

In the final chapter of the Book, we see Jonah sulking at the result of his obedience, and God explaining to him why he wanted him to preach to the Assyrians despite their wickedness. God’s explanation may best be summed up in the words of Jonah in the key verse of the book, namely, Jonah 2:9 (above).

Now, you will realise that the content of this Book is a historical narrative although it is found amongst the Minor Prophets. In fact, it has only one line of prophecy in it. And it is part of Jonah’s sermon against Nineveh: “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown” (Jon 3:4).

What about promises? Well, there are no direct statements of promise in this Book unless you consider Jonah’s threat against Nineveh as a promise. However, there is an implied promise which Jonah referred to and rested upon in his prayer in the whale’s belly. This promise is expressed in the words: “Salvation is of the LORD” (Jon 2:9).

Let’s meditate briefly on these words by considering three questions: First, who needs salvation? Second, how does the LORD save? Thirdly, how shall we respond to the LORD’s salvation?


1. Who Needs Salvation?

First of all, what is salvation? Well, the word ‘salvation’ in our text, comes from the Hebrew h[;WvyÒ (yeshuah) which means ‘rescue’, ‘deliver’ or ‘help’.

Someone is in need of salvation if he falls into a situation of helplessness. If he is not saved, he will die.

Jonah was in the whale’s belly. He knew that were it not for the LORD’s intervention, he would be dead. He knew too that if he were to be delivered from the whale’s belly, it would be entirely by the LORD’s mercy. “Salvation is of the LORD” he says.

But Jonah knew that he was not the only one in need of salvation. The fact is: the Assyrians were much more in need of salvation than him. While Jonah would die physically, the Assyrians were dead spiritually and would die eternally if left on their own. This was the reason why the LORD sent him to Nineveh in the first place.

The Assyrians did not know Jehovah. They trusted in their idols. They were perishing in sin. “They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy” says Jonah (Jon 2:8). That is to say: “Those who worship false gods,—which are really nothing, but the wicked imagination of man,—are forfeiting any opportunity of mercy which could be theirs. They will perish in sin.”

But of course the Assyrians were not the only ones in need of salvation. The fact is: All men descending from Adam by natural generation sinned in him and fell with him. We all fall short of the glory of God and are become children of God’s wrath. We are dead in sin and trespasses. Left to ourselves, we will live lives of sin which will end in eternal misery. All men need salvation.

We need to be saved from our sins and our self-destruction. If you are not saved,—whether you are young or old,—you are living a life of emptiness and misery which will end with destruction. Nothing in this world will fill the void in your heart permanently. Nothing in this world can save you from destruction today and in eternity. Only the LORD can. “Salvation is of the LORD.” This is a promise that all who trust in the Lord will experience in this life and the life to come.

But…


2. How Does the LORD Save?


The LORD saved Jonah by commanding the whale to swallow him. And he would save Jonah by commanding the whale to spit him out on dry land. Jonah was saved and would be saved from physical death by the LORD, using the whale.

What about salvation from spiritual and eternal death? How does the LORD save sinners from death and destruction? The answer is found in the words of the angel Gabriel to Joseph regarding Mary—

“And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call His name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins” (Mt 1:21).

Years later, the Apostle Peter would add:

“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

God would save sinners though Christ Jesus, His only begotten son, whom He would send to live, suffer and die on behalf of those who were appointed to live.

It is instructive to note that the word translated ‘salvation’ (h[;WvyÒ, yeshuah) is the word from which we get the name ['vuwhoyÒ (yehoshua) or ‘Joshua’ which is transliterated as ‘Jesus’ through the Greek New Testament. ‘Jesus’ means “Jehovah is salvation.”

What is even more instructive is that in God’s appointment, Jonah would remain three days in the whale’s belly as a type of Christ to foreshadow the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ for the salvation of His people.

About 800 years after Jonah passed from the scene, the Lord Jesus was asked by the Scribes and Pharisees for a sign that He is from God. He replied:

“An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: 40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Mt 12:39-40).

It turns out that the story of Jonah is not just a curious interlude in the history of God’s people in the Old Testament. The fact is: the whole episode in Jonah’s life recorded in this book, panned out as it did, by the sovereign hand of God, so that the work of mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ,—involving His death and resurrection,—might be illustrated, foreshadowed and preached to the people of God even before the fullness of the time.

What is not so clear in the book of Jonah is made clear in the New Testament. Salvation is of the LORD through Christ Jesus.

The Lord Jesus must live, and die, and be buried, and rise again from the dead in order that He might save His people from their sin.

Jonah suffered with the sailors in the boat, was buried in the whale’s belly and almost died because of his sin. The Lord Jesus suffered alone. He suffered immensely—even to the point of experiencing the pains of hell on the Cross. He died and He was buried not because He had any sin, but because of the sin of His people. The wages of sin is death. We cannot save ourselves for all our righteousness are filthy rags in the sight of a thrice holy God. We cannot save ourselves from our wickedness and from death any more than the Assyrians could save themselves.

Christ had to die to pay for our sins. But thank God that He rose again from the dead. His sacrifice was accepted.

Because He lives, we live and shall live. Because His sacrifice was accepted, our sins have been paid for. We are given spiritual life and eternal life; and one day, our bodies, being still united to Christ, will also rise from the dead.

This is the promise of the LORD. Salvation is of the LORD in Christ!

But…


3. How Should we Respond to the LORD’s Salvation?

If we know that salvation is of the LORD, what should our first response be but to thank and praise the LORD? Were it not for the LORD, the Ninevites would have continued in their carnal prosperity and their sin. They would not think about repentance and their need of salvation.

The same is true for us. Were it not that the LORD initiated our salvation, we would never have repented and believe in Him. Salvation is of the LORD.

But now that we know, shall we not praise Him with our lips and serve Him with gratitude and love with our lives? Those in Nineveh who returned to their idolatry after being spared from destruction, would no doubt have perished in their sin. So too any of us who fail to hold fast the beginning of our faith steadfast unto the end. “For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end” says the Apostle to the Hebrews (Heb 3:14).

Therefore, beloved brethren and children, will you not take a hard look at yourself and give yourself an honest assessment of how you have been living before the face of the LORD hitherto.

Have you live for the LORD? Have you sought to glorify God in all your decisions and in all that you sought to do or to refrain from doing? Or have you indulged in worldly pleasures and sin? Have you made decisions on whether they make economic sense rather than spiritual sense? Have you sought first the kingdom of Christ and His righteousness? Or have you sought first your pleasure and your wealth?

Beloved brethren, youth and children, remember that we are saved from physical death, spiritual death and eternal death. Eternal life is not just a life never-ending. It is a life of fellowship with God, lived in the freedom that the Spirit and Word of God affords.

If therefore, you are still living a worldly and sensual life without regard to holiness, will you not repent of your sins and seek the Lord’s mercy? Do not continue in sin thinking that you are saved. No, no; the Ninevites repented in dust and ashes and were spared God’s wrath. Let us not assume that we can continue status quo in ungodliness and be spared God’s wrath.

Young people and children, take heed! Some of you are heading the path of destruction. Unless you repent and truly believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and follow hard after the Lord Jesus Christ, you will perish.


Conclusion

Salvation is of the LORD! It is the LORD who will bless and preserve us. But let us remember that our enjoyment of Him will depend very much on how we respond to His mercy and grace bestowed upon us in Christ through all the changing scenes of life. Amen. Ω