What does “salvation belongs to the Lord” mean? Although this phrase appears several times in the Scriptures (Ps. 2:8, Rev. 7:10; etc.), I believe its most notable use appears in the book of Jonah in its second chapter, where we read the beautiful prayer of this prophet.
For the Christian, the intimacy of prayer — to call God their Father — is beautiful, itself. Even more beautiful, though, is the Christian’s prayer that recognizes the need to come to their Father’s throne of grace and seek His inexhaustible provision. But, most beautiful of all is the God-honoring prayer, for it will contain the same intimacy and need, but it will also rightly reverence this trice holy God as He is: all in all (Isa 6:3ff; 1 Cor 15:28).
Jonah prays a prayer like this. And, while still in the whale, he prays “salvation belongs to the Lord” (Jon 2:9). What does he mean? Isn’t he in a whale? Read the prayer of Jonah. He was in a hopeless place, sure to die at sea. The scripture reads that he was in “the heart of the sea” as “waves and billows passed over him” (Jon 2:9).
Jonah writes, “The waters closed in over me to take my life … I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me forever” (Jon 2:5f). Jonah was going to drown, entangled in the weeds at the bottom of the sea. “Yet you brought my life up from the pit, O Lord my God” (Jon 2:7).
Do not miss the point, here. Jonah was lost, hopeless and unable to save himself. He was not treading water on the surface, praying to God for endurance to save himself. No, Jonah was as good as dead.
But God intervened, rescuing Jonah from sure death through the provision and protection of the whale, which is itself a picture of the resurrection of Jesus (Matt 12:38-42). There is so much more prophetic richness to the “sign of Jonah” that is found in the synoptic gospels (Matt 12:38-42//Luke 11:29-32//Mark 8:12), but that will have to wait for a later article.
This account of Jonah is a picture of God’s salvation, for us all. As sinners, we are all born spiritually dead in our trespasses (Eph 2:5), unable to save ourselves.
The natural state of man is depravity and rottenness. The Bible says that without God intervening, we are children of wrath by nature (Eph 2:3), destined for the condemnation we are due for our sin (Ezek 18:20). “But God being rich in mercy” can make “us alive together with Christ by grace” (Eph 2:5). To this, Paul writes these wonderful words of the Gospel, truly no sweeter words exist than, “for by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing…” (Eph 2:8).
This means that even though you may be lost and hopeless, unable to do anything to save yourself, like Jonah at the bottom of the sea, God can save you and desires to do so. This is what it means to say, “salvation belongs to the Lord.” Hope eternal only belongs to God, and He shares it by grace with only those — though they do not deserve it — who trust in Him and His Son, Jesus for salvation.
See your hopeless state: you have sinned against a holy God with every wrong you have ever done. There is a debt to pay for this; and, without Christ, it will be paid for eternity in hell (Rom 6:23; Heb 9:22).
But God being rich in mercy made a way to be reconciled to Him, not by anything you can do but through what Christ has done on your behalf. Christ died on the cross to pay the sin debt of all who will call on His name to save them. Then He was raised from the dead, to demonstrate that He is God and Savior; and, in faith, we all who trust and hope in Him will be raised again, as well.
Won’t you do that today? Will you cease to trust in yourself and instead entrust your life to Jesus? He is the only way to heaven. Won’t you arise and come to Him, the only One to whom salvation belongs?
(Jeremy Breland is a farmer in Ruffin and a M.Div. student at Southern Seminary. He can be reached at email@example.com.)