JONAH & THE GREAT FISH
Suggested Reading: Jonah 1-4
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Key Verses: Jonah 1:17, 4:11
Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights….
And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left–and much livestock?
Instead of going 500 miles northeast in obedience to God, Jonah disobeys God and sets out for Spain, 2,000 miles west. Jonah lived in the northern kingdom of Israel and had to travel 50 miles southwest to reach the harbour of Joppa, exactly the opposite direction from Nineveh. Read the historical reference to Jonah from 2 Kings 14:23-26. “Gath Hepher,” Jonah’s home village, is the modern village of Mishad, an Arab Muslim community three miles north of Nazareth. Jewish tradition says that Jonah was the son of the widow of Zarephath, whom Elijah had raised from the dead (1Kings 17:8-24).
Jonah knew his Bible. He quoted from four different Psalms while inside “the belly of the fish” (Psalm 3:8, 31:22, 42:7, and 69:1). In fact, he quotes from 14 Bible verses. When he finally confesses, “I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord,” the fish rises to the surface and spits him out onto shore, perhaps the very one in Joppa.
The Apostle Matthew records that Jesus likened his time in the grave to Jonah’s experience inside the great fish (Matthew 12:38-41). Another time Jesus speaks of the “sign of the prophet Jonah” (Matthew 16:2-4).
When Jonah finally reaches Nineveh and preaches a one-sentence sermon, “Yet 40 days and Nineveh shall be overthrown,” we read that the entire city “turned from their evil way.” That’s called repentance! (Jonah 3:10a).
PRAYER FOR TODAY:
Lord God, give me grace to always obey You. I pray that if I should, like Jonah, go in the opposite direction that You desire of me, that You will do whatever it takes to turn me 180 degrees back into the centre of Your perfect will! Lord, You prepared a great fish to turn Jonah around, and I ask You to prepare a circumstance of Your choice which, if necessary, will do the same for me. I pray this in the Name of the One who taught about Himself using the story of Jonah, Jesus Christ (Messiah) Himself! Amen!!!
100 PERSONAL WORDS:
There is a tradition that says that Jonah was a student at the “School of the Prophets” founded by Elisha, Elijah’s successor. Last Sunday evening, Pastor Blackburn preached about the student who was chopping down a tree to help build a new building at the Bible College when the axehead came loose, sank to the bottom of the river, and became the occasion of one of Elisha’s miracles. The axe head floated to the surface and the student picked it up. In the parking lot after the service, I said to the Pastor, “Do you think that student could’ve been Jonah who, when the sailors throw him overboard, knew that if God would save an axehead, He would also save him from drowning?” The Pastor said with a big smile, “Let’s say so!” Maybe “yes” maybe “no.” I like to think about what was going on inside Jonah’s head when he said, “Throw me overboard” (read 2 Kings 6:1-7).
Some say that the story of Jonah is way too unbelievable. The way I look at it is this…I’ve decided for myself that if God decides to do anything, He has the ability to do it. Of course I don’t understand how this could be, but then I certainly don’t understand the nature of the billions of stars and planets in the cosmos either. There’s an old chorus I’m singing under my breath just now, “God can do anything, anything, anything, anything but fail” (I forget some words here, help me out). I’ll try to find it on “Google”…Yes! here is an unusual version of the song. I’m worshipping the Lord along with the singer (click here).
Yours for believing that God can do anything but fail!!!