Then the men were exceedingly afraid, and said to him, “Why have you done this?” For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them.
Then they said to him, “What shall we do to you that the sea may be calm for us?”—for the sea was growing more tempestuous.
And he said to them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will become calm for you. For I know that this great tempest is because of me.”
[Jonah 1:10-12 NKJV]
The Book of Jonah is “a strange fish”, if you will permit the allusion, and scholars have devoted a disproportionate amount of effort debating the whys and wherefores of this fascinating book.
What is clear is that Jonah in the belly of the fish three days and three nights, is a foretelling of Jesus' death and resurrection. Jesus Himself referred to Jonah thus:
But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.
For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here.
[Matthew 12:39-41 NKJV]
So why, when he was amid the tempestuous sea did Jonah say to the others in the boat "throw me into the sea; then the sea will become calm for you?" Jonah knew that the tempest was because of him, for he had displeased God, but we can see that God is ever present and is making the way clear for Jonah to fulfil His purpose, regardless of Jonah’s mindset - Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah.
Perhaps Jonah thought himself worthless and was prepared to have himself cast into the deep waters? Was this an act of self-sacrifice for the sake of his fellow men onboard the craft, and thus brought about Jonah’s salvation? Verse 4 indicates that The Lord was creating circumstances to ensure that His plan for Nineveh came about. But the Lord sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship was about to be broken up. But first He had to bring Jonah to 'the end of himself'; to a place where he could no longer flee from God's presence. Jonah had to endure the consequences of his decision and undergo the trial in the belly of the great fish, but God carried Jonah through it.
There are times in our lives when we do not see The Lord’s hand guiding. All seems lost and the only option that we can see is to be - metaphorically - thrown overboard. The worst may be still to come, but we must have confidence in our Redeemer, for He knows all things and has prepared the way for us. He will get us onto dry land.
In these difficult times, we see around us war, famine, pestilence and death. Our lives can feel more insecure than ever before, because the threats are closer to home than we have known in this generation. The Adversary would like to see us give up hope trust and faith and have us decide to be 'thrown into the sea' - really meaning to be swallowed up in unbelief. God - as always - creates an ark of salvation to protect those who are His people. So, just as He did with Noah with the ark; Moses with a basket in the bulrushes; Paul, lowered from a window in a basket to escape pursuers and so many others, God held Jonah in the palm of His hand in the belly of the great fish. Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the fish’s belly.
"But I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD.”
So the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.
[Jonah 2:9-10 NKJV]
“In The Belly of A Whale” — Northland Church Worship Team
OSWALD CHAMBERS — RUN TODAY’S RACE
Monday 7th September 2020
The reason we know so little about God’s wisdom is that we will only trust Him as far as we can work things out according to our own reasonable common sense.
GEORGE and GILL STEWART
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