The Wednesday feature of the Worldly Saints blog is a Scriptural meditation whereby I take a verse or passage I have been pondering lately and seek to edify my readers with it’s promises, encouragements, warnings, rebukes, etc.
If you ever want an unlikely example of God’s grace, read the Book of Jonah. After being commanded to go preach to their racial rival – the Ninevites – Jonah decided to get on a ship headed in the opposite direction. And after God blocked his path by stirring up a storm in the middle of the Mediterranean, God showed His grace to Jonah in one of the most remarkable ways …
“And the Lord appointed (or you might say, “God sovereignly orchestrated”) a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights” (Jonah 1:17).
Many people doubt the possibility or likelihood there would be a fish large enough to swallow a man and for that man to survive. That is one of the reasons that a whale has been suggested over the years and not just a fish. Maybe this fish was leviathan, that mysterious sea creature mentioned every now and then the O.T. (Ps 74:13-14; 104:26; Isa 27:1).
Being inside the belly of any kind of fish would not have been a pleasant experience. Imagine sitting or laying down surrounded by the intestinal wall of large mammal, with the fish’s stomach tightening around you. There would be an approximate 104-108o temperature with no air circulation, dead and dying fish all around, gastric juices eating away at your clothes or bleaching your skin, going up and down and back and forth with the movement of the fish. There would be darkness all around you, and you would almost be suffocating and experiencing the changing of air pressures due the whale ascending and descending. It would be absolutely nauseating and I could imagine Jonah probably vomiting numerous times and having to lay around that as well.
This was an unpleasant experience to say the least and would be the exact location for someone who really needed to experience God’s grace.
(And the poor fish! How frustrating must that have been to not be able to digest Jonah! You know if there is anyone we should feel sorry for in this story, it is this fish. This fish was minding his own business, swimming around with his friends, chasing other fish that he liked, eating smaller fish for food, etc. Then all of a sudden he is commanded by God to swallow this man – and he doesn’t even get to chew him up! He just swallows him whole and now Jonah sits in his stomach and he can’t even be digested for 3 days. God’s mercy doesn’t always look pretty, doesn’t it?)
What did God do for Jonah? He saved His life! He saved Jonah from Jonah by providing a home – even thought it was a rather unpleasant one – in the fish. That is grace.