“Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord, his God, out of the fish’s belly. . .And the Lord spoke unto the fish and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.”
Jonah 2:1, 10
It matters not where we go; His relentless Grace and Mercy continue to pursue us like the Hound of Heaven.
Jonah, whose name means “dove,” didn’t want to “go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it” (1:2a). He knew this ancient, Assyrian capital—founded by Nimrod (Gen. 10:8-10), who also built Babylon and the Tower of Babel (Gen. 10:10; 11:1-4)—was an evil city. And, it was probably his dislike of them, not the size of their sin or city walls, that caused him to “rise up and flee to Tarshish from the Presence of the Lord” (1:3a).
But such is not possible, is it, Pilgrim?
No, not at all (Ps. 139).
And, neither should we be surprised that Jonah was trying to get as far away from home as he possibly could. Such is always the case when one’s running from home (Lk. 15:13).
Likewise, we shouldn’t be surprised of his repeated “going down:” “Down to Joppa” (v.3a) . . .“down into the ship” (1:3b). . .“down into the belly of the ship” (1:5b). . .down into the sea (1:15). . .and down into the belly of the great fish (1:17).
Why is that?
Because the road that leads away from God is always a downward one (Mt. 7:13; Ps. 1:1). But, as we see in Jonah’s case, it’s still not beyond God’s “grasp of Grace” and unfailing Mercies (Lam. 3:21-23).
Thankfully, this runaway preacher who became a castaway pray-er knew what to do and on Whom to call when he ended up in the fish’s belly. Even there he demonstrated great faith by saying “I cried by reason of my affliction unto the Lord and He heard me; out of the belly of hell (sheol) cried I and You heard my voice” (2:2).
His prayer also reveals he knew his digestive dungeon was no accident or coincidence. He knew the same One Who’d called and commissioned him was the same One Who’d “cast him into the deep and caused the floods to compass him about, with its billows and waves passing over him” (2:3). And, that’s why he said “I am cast out of Your sight” (2:4a).
But, again, praise God he knew what to do: “I will look again toward Your holy Temple” (1:4b, 7b). And, even in the depths of the fish’s belly Jonah knew the Lord, his God, would “bring up his life from corruption” (v.6b)—i.e, that he wouldn’t end up dying in that dark, stinking place.
Instead, he “remembered the Lord” (2:7a) and offered unto Him “the voice of thanksgiving as he paid his vow unto the Lord” (2:9)—which meant “arising and going on to Nineveh” after the fish vomited him out on dry ground (3:3a). Never forget, as Corrie ten Boom once said, “There is no pit in life so deep that still yet underneath are not the everlasting arms of God.” Hallelujah!! Look to Him, Pilgrim. Cry out to Him. He’ll hear. And, He’ll deliver.
By Tom Smith Morning Manna Dated October 8, 2010