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Friday, June 18, 2010

Thoughts on the book of Jonah - Chapter 2

Continuing the thoughts on the life of Jonah.  At the end of chapter 1, God “appoints” a fish to swallow Jonah as he is thrown in the ocean.  The purpose was not to kill Jonah but to protect him.  As Tchivdjian in the book  Surprised by Grace states “The fish’s belly was not Jonah’s prison or death chamber, but only a temporary hospital for his soul and protection for his body from the ocean depths. It’s good for Jonah to be here. God ensures that his unworthy servant is made fully aware of this undeserved deliverance.”

Jonah spends three days and three nights in the belly of the fish. In Jewish custom three days and three days do not necessarily mean three full days.  This event is quoted by Jesus and it foreshadows his death and resurrection (Matthew 12:40).  God in his Sovereignty not only appoints a fish to protect Jonah but also to teach us something that was yet to come.  He wants to teach us about Jesus. Jesus would come. He would die and be buried for three days and three nights but on the third day, he would rise.  Jonah was a shadow of what was to come.

What is Jonah's  response? Jonah prayed! I try to picture what it was like to be inside the fish.  Dark. Smelly. The movement of the internal parts of the fish must have been scary. The slime all over his body. What else to do? Pray. What is our reaction when something bad is happening in our lives? When we fear death? When we go through difficult circumstances? Jonah prayed! We can pray!
What is he thinking? He is thinking he is going to die.  He is in the place of the dead (Sheol).  But God has heard him (he mentions this twice). He believes that God will save him (or perhaps has already saved him from the ocean).  He understands that what is happening is God’s doing (“you cast me into the deep”). The words “your” repeat over and over in this prayer.  He is grateful to God. He believes that salvation is of God. When we pray do we believe God will answer us? Are we grateful to God? Do we believe that only God can save us?

God speaks to the fish and it vomits Jonah out. This amazes me. God speaks to a fish. God is an incredible God. The act of vomiting also shows God’s displeasure towards Jonah. But he has shown grace by saving him.
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