God is in command over all the land, including all the creatures of the earth. God gave an order to a fish and it obeyed. God ordered the sea to become violent, then be calm again, He ordered a fish to swallow Jonah, then dump him onto dry land. The details of this story are so interesting, for such a short book it is packed with valuable lessons that beg us to pay attention. Jonah was in the depths and God heard him. You are never so deep down in darkness that God couldn't pull you out. Light can crush through any amount of darkness.
Someone wrote to me and asked if I thought Jonah was dead or alive when he came out of the fish. I had never heard this was a controversy before. The bible does not say that Jonah died and was brought back to life so I believe that Jonah was alive and the fish spit Jonah onto land at God's command. Maybe why some think this is because Jesus referred to Jonah in Matthew 12:39-40 "A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." There are many layers of meaning in the Bible, Jesus spoke in parables to the people. It was never just a story, for instance, Jesus would speak about a farmer because the people would understand that topic, but those who could truly hear understood that the farmer was representing God. There are literal, figurative, spiritual and practical lessons all throughout the Bible.
I hate fish and seafood and do not eat any of it, so the thought of being inside a fish for three days and the indescribable smells, rotten food and possible burning sensation of my flesh rotting away doesn't appeal to me at all. I can see how that could be used to really open your eyes so you can see Truth and the mistakes you've made. After looking at some of the posts on different websites about Jonah it is clear there are as many different views of this story as there are people to speak them. It is dangerous to pencil in or cross off verses in the Bible. People start huge arguments based on their belief which can greatly differ from what the Bible has to say. We should ALWAYS refer back to the Bible and study to see what the Bible has to say. I believe the Bible should be talked about so that we can gain wisdom and share our point of view with others, but I would not want to be the one who is before God answering for trying to rewrite His book.
Some reasons Jonah may have turned away from God on this mission:
- This mission made no sense to Jonah
- Jonah foretold the prosperity of Israel, not the destruction of an enemy country
- If Nineveh received God's mercy they may block the future prosperity of Israel
- A trip to Nineveh would not be easy to make by foot
- Jonah might have had to sell most of his possessions to make this trip
- Jonah had to leave behind the comforts of home
- Jonah would have had to leave his position of power to become weak in a strange land
- In Jonah's mind only Israel was to receive God's mercy, not the people of Nineveh
- Nineveh was a great enemy of Israel so hatred ran deep
- Pride, from beginning to the end of this book pride held Jonah in a twisted grip that wouldn't let go
Justification of our beliefs and ideas does not give us the right to run away from God. Jeremiah 17:9 says "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" Our hearts will slide into darkness without God in our lives. Anything done out of the heart (works of the flesh) will always fall short of God's plan for us.
This book is a reminder to us all to follow God even if what we are asked to do does not make sense, does not appeal to us, is embarrassing or is the last thing in the world we would ever want to do.