This picks up right where “God’s solution” drops off, which ended with God’s solution being the only one acceptable on all fronts and that Jonah had to be swallowed by the fish in order for the city of Ninevah to be saved.
You may be saying “whyyyy would he need to be swallowed?” well Jonah had pride in his heart (which is why he went to Joppa and tried to go to Tarshish – his pride regarding thNinevites were too low to be saved) that needed to be taken away in a forceful and quick manner in order for Jonah to effectively minister to the Ninevites.
I’ve never tried it but I imagine being swallowed by a great fish would be a pretty humbling experience. Jonah needed this time of prayer and forced fasting (he didn’t have food or water inside the fish)so that he may be able to minister.
He was in there for three days and three nights. Three days in the maximum length of time the human body can go without both food and water. But a lot can happen in three days.
A lot can happen in three days. Jesus was in the grave for three days (after three days, the body begins to decompose and scripture says that the faithful or Holy one would not see decay. Psalms 16:10, Acts 2:27-31, 13:34-37) and he defeated hell, death, and the grave. He has the keys to death and Hades (Revelation 1:18) and he was resurrected from the grave (Acts 2:31)
So in this three days of being in the fish’s belly – let’s just think about this. A fish stinks, it’s stomach’s contents aren’t going to smell much better. He was surrounded by other dead fish, seaweed, and salt water. I’m 100% confident this was not a comfortable experience – Jonah finally comes to his senses and prays to the Lord.
How many times have we had to go through some really uncomfortable experiences – created by our own doing as Jonah did in this case – to come to our senses and pray to the Lord?
You may say “well Jonah already knew he messed up so why did he have to be swallowed by the fish? Regardless of pride, God didn’t have to do it that way.” Just let me reiterate, God did not intend for Jonah to go that way. God wanted Jonah to go to Ninevah not Tarshish via a ship. But Jonah made the choice to go to Tarshish via ship and thus when he finally decided to go to Ninevah God had to get him there from the middle of the ocean. Very few other ships would have been passing that way and if there were they were probably headed to Tarshish. The sea – especially this particular trip – was very treacherous and there were not many ships headed to the port of Tarshish – which is why the one Jonah was on was so paced with cargo.
There were not going to be any ships headed away from Tarshish back to Joppa or Ninevah. He couldn’t drift on a piece of cargo to Ninevah, he would certainly die. Either by starvation, dehydration, or eaten by sharks in the area – he would have died. So the only way – at this point – was to go via pre-man submarine aka a great fish.
This served as a way for Jonah to continue on his spiritual reconciliation and a way for Jonah to arrive close to his destination. But it was a consequence of his actions. Sometimes we experience the consequences of our actions, after we have repented, and question God as to why we had to go through it.
We weren’t intended to go through that if we had just said ‘yes sir’ when we first heard then our heartache, our physical taxation, our financial taxation, and emotional strain would have been significantly reduced to practically nothing. Then we would have the joy of doing God’s will to replace any of those things that had occurred.
This just doesn’t apply to the big things such as the decision to go on a missions trip or not (like Jonah) or if you should empty your bank account to give to the church or missions. This saying ‘yes sir’ to what God tells you to do applies to even the small everyday things. “Should I go shopping? Should I stay home? Should I read your word or spend time in worship with song and dance? Should I do some household chores or go minister to my neighbor? Should I go for a walk now or go to the gym?” I’ve even asked the Lord “should I cut my hair or just get it colored?” and He gave me an answer.
When you seek His face and His will for everything you do then you know that you aren’t out of His will. You aren’t a pest, God loves it when you seek His face. He desires for you to be in His perfect will. It brings both you and He such joy and peace.
No if you don’t want joy and peace then by all means do your own thing but as for me I am going to continue to find out the small and the big things from the King of Kings.
I don’t say all of that to gloat, I say all of that to show you that He cares about every little thing.
We are going to read Psalms 139 which is going to show how much God cares for us – big and small!
So God is quite concerned with our everyday lives, as He was with Jonah, the sailors, and the Ninevites.
He provided a way out for Jonah even in Jonah’s rebellion. He provided a way for His glory to be shown to the sailors and so that they could be saved (1:16). He was concerned about the Ninevites’ future and was moved with compassion and mercy when they repented (3:10). He desires no one to perish (2 Peter 3:9) and that everyone comes to repentance.