Thursday, February 12, 2015

Runaway Fish Prophet, Part 4

Days and night blurred together. The burning sensation was all that Jonah was aware of now. It was constant. Unending. Part of him would say anything to get out of this pit.

In fact, he had tried that. God didn't listen to his half-hearted attempt.

How many days and nights had he been here?

"Argh," he moaned. If only he had just obeyed the word of the Lord. No matter what he thought of the people, he should have done the Lord's will.

He get...out...of here.

He started to pray. He wasn't sure if he was praying out loud or if it was all in his head, but he prayed. He tried to take a breath. This part he had to say out loud, from the belly of this great fish, God would hear his cry.

"But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; What I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the Lord!"

Looking back, Jonah was pretty sure he had passed out after that. The next thing he remembered was sliding through stomach bile and saliva before landing on the sea shore.

Water burned in his lungs. Something slimy was wrapped around his leg. He didn't dare look.

There was splashing, and Jonah turned to glimpse the behemoth-like fish swimming back into the dark deeps.

Slowly standing up, he coughed hard in an attempt to clear his lungs. The exaggerated cough only pained him more. Avoiding the burning light of the sun, he wiped the slim from his eyes.

Based on Jonah 1:17-2:10

Jonah doesn't reveal his real reason for running away from God until the end of the book. So I need you to ignore that while you answer this question.

Why did God tell the great fish to spit Jonah up on the dry land then?

The answer is in the last two sentences of Jonah's prayer from the fish's belly.

"But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; What I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the Lord!" Jonah 2:9

He came to grips with the fact that no matter how he felt about the situation, he was supposed to do God's will. Period.
"And Samuel said, 'Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.'"
1 Samuel 15:22

In modern speak, Jonah was basically saying, "I will thankfully sacrifice my will to your will. What I promise to do, I will do it. Save who you want to save! I'll do what you tell me."

It wasn't his heart towards the people of Nineveh that had changed. No, it was his heart towards doing what God asked. Once Jonah got that through his head while in the belly of the fish, that was when God told the fish to spit him out. He finally got it.

The question is: do we, or do we need to have a close encounter with fish guts? Our job is not to critique God's plan. Our job is to do what He has specifically called us to do, regardless of what we think of the whole crazy, strange plan.

V. Joy Palmer

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