The Great Fish

Daily Reading: Jonah 2

“And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights.

Jonah 1:17 (NASB)
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Have you ever been in a moment where you exclaim, “That was unexpected!” I’m not sure any Hollywood screen writer could do better than what we read right here in the book of Jonah. Consider the extreme elements that are in this first chapter. In a completely pagan society, here is a religious man, a prophet from God. Perhaps he was well known, perhaps not. One thing for sure, Jonah knew that God was speaking to him. Never do we see Jonah doubt these directions were from God. Now as we’ve already read, Jonah had a bit of a rough spot in his heart toward these people. Instead of going toward them, he runs away. The contrast begins to form. Now on the boat, while most people would have hid their personal drama, Jonah’s is exposed. So the plot thickens. A religious man hears from God and is now thrust into a tumultuous ocean. Perhaps he had given up on himself. Like you and I at times, Jonah knew he was running from God. You can almost hear his plea, “I’ve had enough, throw me overboard!”

Now in the ocean, undoubtedly getting hammered by the wind and waves, the surf cresting over his head, what happens? A great fish happens. Pause for a moment here. What kind of fish could eat Jonah and be large enough to keep Jonah alive and not digest him? Could it be a whale? This isn’t likely, there is another word that would be used for whale. God did a miracle in a great fish. We do well to leave it there. We don’t know how God did it – thus the term “miracle”, or “super natural.” It goes against nature; much like the sun standing still in Joshua 10:12-13. Strictly scientifically speaking, if the earth stopped moving, or any celestial body stopped it’s motion, incredible things would happen. No, we can’t explain it – it is “super-natural” much like Jonah being swallowed by a fish. Consider this however, if he were simply to be instantly “translated” (moved) from one place to another would that seem so weird to us? Allow your mind to be stretched a bit. To deny the supernatural, is to deny many truths from the Bible. Nevertheless as Scripture states it, so it is, and we believe.

God loves using imagery and repetitive numbers. God is perfectly creative and perfectly analytical. He desires to communicate truth to every personality type, and He does perfectly. Here in this last verse of Jonah lay an entire sermon for the pastor or lay person – perhaps even a series. God did the completely unexpected to accomplish what He desired. We do well to remember that no matter what occurs in our lives, God always has a plan. More than this, let’s expect God to work in our natural lives, rejoicing. Let us also rejoice when God does the unexpected in our lives and worship Him!

Matthew Elroy

Disciple of Jesus, Husband, Father & pastor.