Jonah said salvation belongs to the LORD (Jonah 2:9). There is no doubt about his statement. Salvation is God’s and He can choose to do with it what He wants to. Salvation does not belong to us. It is God’s.
Though Jonah messed up in several ways, he was not totally off his rocker when it came to how he thought about God and His salvation. Jonah was a prophet, so we can’t totally dismiss his life because he made a mistake and his mistake made it into the canon of Scripture.
Praise God for His grace. What if God or others dismissed you because you made a mistake? How awful. What if you dismissed others because they made a mistake? Even more awful. The mature Christian will pick out the good in a person’s life and learn from it. What can we learn from our brother, Jonah?
He tells us salvation belongs to Yahweh–the covenant keeping LORD God. Salvation is His and if we receive it, there is no question we have received a gift. In this case, we know it is an unearned (unmerited) gift.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God. – Ephesians 2:8 (ESV)
Taking care of God’s business
Salvation belongs to the LORD, but it is a gift to us. Because God’s salvation is a gift, it becomes a stewardship responsibility for any follower of God. We are to manage God’s salvation. This is not unlike any other thing we have in our lives, since all things belong to God.
The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers. – Psalm 24:1-2 (ESV)
- How do you think about your salvation?
- Do you see it as a gift from the LORD?
- How do you steward (manage) God’s gift to you?
This stewardship idea is something we have been trying to parent into our children. For example, we have told them for years “their room” is not their room. “Their toys” are not their toys. And, even more importantly, “their lives” do not belong to them. Everything belongs to God, even salvation.
Salvation was not given to you to use in a self-centered, self-serving way, with no appreciation for, acknowledgment of, or responsibility toward the One who gave you the gift. The worse case for this kind of mental theological breakdown is the person “who got saved so he would not have to go to hell.”
He just wanted to “get his ticket punched.” That is salvation irresponsibility. Perhaps you have experienced something like this at Christmas, maybe with one of your children, nephews, or other relatives. They took your gift, but were irresponsible with how they used it.
While it may be okay to take certain liberties with what you do with some of the gifts you receive from others, it would be wise to be more gracious, thoughtful, and responsible with how you steward God’s gift of salvation.
Temporal gifts and eternal gifts are different. The stakes are eternally higher regarding God’s salvation. The comprehensiveness of His gift of salvation is staggering and our responsibility regarding His gift is sobering.
It is the most expensive gift you will ever steward because it belongs to the LORD. No earthly gift can compare to the gift of salvation. Jesus talked about how to prioritize earthly and heavenly gifts. He made a distinction between the rusty temporal and glorious eternal.
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. – Matthew 6:19-20 (ESV)
There is grace for this
One of the interesting ironies about Jonah’s statement is the truth in which he spoke, but the failure in how he lived out what he knew to be true. I’ve written an article on this already–Why do actions speak louder than words? Because your actions are your real beliefs.
Jonah’s confession–what he knew to be true and his function–how he really lived out his life were at odds. This is true for all of us. Our beliefs and our practices do not always line up. Though Jonah was spouting off about God’s salvation while inside the whale’s belly, it was not long before he was angry and defiant again (Jonah 4:4).
His ability to steward the LORD’s salvation became more complicated after he got out of the whale. What he knew to be true and his desire to live out this knowledge did not connect–again. Praise God for His grace. God makes wide borders of grace for people like Jonah …and me too.
God gives His children room to wobble. It appeared Jonah was wobbling all over the place. Mercifully, what we see in Jonah is a testament to God’s kindness to all of us–a kindness that leads to repentance.
Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? – Romans 2:4 (ESV)
You don’t have to fret if you’re doing a poor job stewarding the LORD’s salvation. He will help you to become a better steward. However, it would be a good reminder to think about two of the ways He “helped” Jonah: (1) By hurling a storm at him (2) and then appointing a fish to swallow him.
While this is not meant to scare you, it does elevate the seriousness of how God thinks about His salvation. It should also give you a different perspective on the trouble in your life. You can read more about the storm and the whale here:
- A way to think about God when He hurls a storm at you
- God appoints trouble for you because He loves you
Could it be there is a sovereign point to your troubles? Maybe the LORD, who owns your salvation, will go to unusual lengths to help you become a better steward of His salvation. There is no doubt, according to the book of Jonah, that is exactly what God was doing to His prophet. He was helping him mature in salvation management.
For further reading
This is part of a nine part series on Jonah–a series of sermons preached at my church in the fall of 2012. You can listen to all of the sermons here. This article series has been published in book form.
- Chapter One – Getting Real
- Chapter Two - Closing the Gap
- Chapter Three - The Storm Hurler
- Chapter Four - God Appoints Trouble
- Chapter Five - Salvation Management
- Chapter Six - Second Chances
- Chapter Seven - If You repent; God Will Repent
- Chapter Eight - A Reason To Be angry?
- Chapter Nine - Caring For The clueless