“I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving. That which I have vowed I will pay”
Jonah was on the run from God.
The Lord had appeared to Jonah, telling him to “‘Go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before me.’ But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord” (Jonah 1:2-3). Jonah ran away from God because he was afraid of God. He was disobeying God’s voice and he feared retribution from God.
Thank God that you and I have nothing to fear in this day from the presence of our Lord, our indwelling Savior, Jesus Christ. His perfect love has cast out all our fears (1 John 4:18).
When the ship Jonah was on ran right into a great storm, and the ship’s crew found out that Jonah was “fleeing from the presence of the Lord” (1:10), they “picked up Jonah, threw him into the sea and the sea stopped it’s raging” (Jonah 1:15).
Another insight for us to behold here is that if we were to ever run from the presence of the Lord, we just might be running straight into “a great storm.” Let’s not do that.
So, “the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah” (Jonah 1:17).
It was while he was in the belly of the beast, that Jonah offered a prayer, confessing repentance, and receiving deliverance. He concluded his prayer with the words, “I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving. That which I have vowed I will pay. Salvation is from the Lord” (Jonah 2:9).
In Psalm 50, Asaph wrote, “Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving and pay your vows to the Most High” (Psalm 50:14). Under the old covenant, there was a specific law regarding a sacrifice of thanksgiving, which included obligatory vows and offerings, of cakes and animal sacrifice. This was a contractual agreement that included payback to God for His blessing through offerings.
This law is written in detail in the book of Leviticus. It says, in part,“Now this is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings which shall be presented to the Lord. If he offers it by way of thanksgiving, then along with the sacrifice of thanksgiving he shall offer unleavened cakes mixed with oil, and unleavened wafers spread with oil, and cakes of well stirred fine flour mixed with oil. With the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving, he shall present his offering with cakes of leavened bread. It shall belong to the priest. Now as for the flesh of the of his sacrifice of his thanksgiving peace offerings” (Leviticus 7:11-13, 15). Yes, there had to be death and shedding of blood involved with the vow Jonah was going to pay.
This was the Old Testament law of the sacrifice of thanksgiving.
Things are so blessedly different for us in this day as God’s New Covenant kingdom of priests. We know that Jesus Christ, our “Lord” and “priest forever” (Psalm 110:1&4), has atoned for all of our sins, and the sins of this world, through His once for all sacrifice of Himself on our behalf (Hebrews 9:24-28, 10:14). And, even as we now live in the New Covenant of our resurrected Savior, so also do we now have a new outlook on, and tender understanding of, our sacrifice of thanksgiving.
Here is the beauty for you and I to see, of how our Lord beholds our offering of thanksgiving. “Through Him then [Jesus Christ], let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name” (Hebrews 13:15).
Oh hallelujah, this Scripture is telling us that when we offer up a sacrifice of praise to our God, that He sees “the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.”
There’s no vow to pay, no cakes to make, no blood to spill, no guilt involved. Instead we offer to our Lord, from our hearts, this freewill sacrifice of praise and He says we are bearing fruit in His presence.
God isn’t interested in the fruit of our labors of cakes, trying to pay Him back, but rather the sweet “fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.” Yes, this is what our Lord sees, so let us offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving even now for the glorious grace, love, peace, joy, and New Covenant of our God!
Maybe sometime you might feel not so spiritual, for any number of reasons. Whenever or if ever this occurs, I encourage you to go into the presence of your Lord right away, as His beloved child and priest, and sacrifice your negative feelings to God by offering up your sacrifice of praise to Him. Praise and give thanks to His name and soon you will be transformed, away from negativity and towards seeing your lips bearing fruit to God, just as He lovingly sees and says. See?
How blessed we are in our Lord to be graced to offer to Him our “sacrifice of praise.” How blessed we are to know that He sees us bearing fruit in His presence even as we “continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name” (Hebrews 13:15). Yes, Be fruitful and multiply His praises before Him in His presence this day. Hallelujah!