Many years ago, our family all took scuba diving. At the time our oldest was fourteen and the youngest was twelve. Needless to say, we did our best to pick safe excursions. I was diving with our little Beauty in a crystal clear spring in Florida in about sixty feet of water. Largemouth bass were extra large and intimidating to a twelve year old. I was exploring and had taken my eyes off of her and I suddenly heard a scream under water: “Wwwwwwhhhhhhhhooooooaaaaa!” Yes, you can scream into your regulator and sound projects underwater quite clearly. As I turned to determine the problem I saw this HUGE largemouth bass swimming mouth wide open right toward my small daughter and her can of Cheez-Whiz! To the Beauty, this fish looked like Jonah’s fish, capable of swallowing her and carrying her into the depths never to see her Mamma again. To this day, I still laugh at this experience and she STILL does NOT find it humorous at all! It was and continues to be all about perspective. Size matters. How deep you are matters. Who your Rescuer is matters. My little Beauty was not at all certain her Mom was up to the task. Her scream was not for me, but for her Dad who she could not see but was certain would hear her cries and come to rescue her from the beast of the deep. (I am the lifeguard and he was not a great swimmer! Again, perspective!)
Jonah was indeed swallowed by a creature of the deep. It doesn’t really matter if it was a whale or a shark or a FISH. Cartoons often show Jonah in the belly with a lantern to dispel the dark.
What it was really like is a tomb. (Matthew 12:40) Cold. Dark. Wet. Stale air. Confined without hope of release. Body left to decay.
Jonah was very much alive. He was not sure he would survive. He is in a very dark timeout. He is buried alive: A fish has become a coffin and the sea a cemetery. It is here Jonah’s relationship with the God of the universe rises like a flame in his heart to illuminate his darkness. He calls out to the only Rescuer he knows. (Job 19:25-27) “I know my Redeemer lives!”
Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the fish’s belly. 2 And he said:
“I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction,
And He answered me.
“Out of the belly of Sheol I cried,
And You heard my voice.
3 For You cast me into the deep,
Into the heart of the seas,
And the floods surrounded me;
All Your billows and Your waves passed over me.
4 Then I said, ‘I have been cast out of Your sight;
Yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.’
5 The waters surrounded me, even to my soul;
The deep closed around me;
Weeds were wrapped around my head.
6 I went down to the moorings of the mountains;
The earth with its bars closed behind me forever;
Yet You have brought up my life from the pit,
O Lord, my God.
7 “When my soul fainted within me,
I remembered the Lord;
And my prayer went up to You,
Into Your holy temple.
8 “Those who regard worthless idols
Forsake their own Mercy.
9 But I will sacrifice to You
With the voice of thanksgiving;
I will pay what I have vowed.
Salvation is of the Lord.”
Jonah’s attitude took a 180 degree turn from rebellion to repentance.
So often, the Lord uses our times of rebellion and disobedience to redirect our attention to Him and His providential care through our consequences. Thank you Father for MERCY!
I love the last verse of this chapter: “So the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.” The LORD hears our cries! Just as the Beauty’s dad heard her cries and came to rescue her from the fish, God came and directed the fish to deposit Jonah onto the shore and gave him a second chance to be obedient. A death and a resurrection had taken place. Jonah had the opportunity once more to serve Almighty God!
The story of Jonah reminds us that our arguments, our refusal, and our procrastination are all the same: Willful disobedience and not acceptable. Sometimes we just need our attitude adjusted around to God’s way of thinking. God cares for all people and we too must care as well. Judgement belongs to the Lord, not man. God will go to any lengths to reach us and keep us from destruction. His highest law is Mercy and Grace.
The Beauty spent the rest of our time in spring on the platform feeding the small brim Cheez Whiz and playing with the turtles. We could hear her giggle underwater as the fish ate cheese off her mask and she could see their tiny teeth and had confidence she could not be swallowed up.
Jonah marched toward Ninevah to do as the Lord asked knowing he was in good hands. Obedience matters. When we are obedient the LORD takes responsibility for the outcome. We are protected.
https://youtu.be/FTLGBfv4xaM Lord I Offer you My Life, Hillsong
Treading in the deep,
For previous study on Jonah see May19,2016 post by well-watered garden )