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RECIPIENTS OF GOD’S GREAT GRACE – JONAH



Do you believe the Bible? Really? Every word?


Do you really believe that God spoke the universe into existence, that He started with nothing and created everything? “Let there be light”… and it happened (Genesis 1:3)?


Do you believe that when “Moses stretched out his hand over the sea… the Lord drove the sea back with a powerful east wind all that night and turned the sea into dry land” (Exodus 14:21–22)?


How about Lazarus? Do you believe that when Jesus called out, “Lazarus, come forth!” (John 11:43), the guy who’d been stone-cold-dead for four days choked, coughed, blinked, and came back to life?


Come on… do you really believe that “the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights” (Jonah 1:17)? Could that happen?


Jesus clearly believed it! Eight-hundred years after Jonah’s epic adventure, the Lord said, “Jonah was in the belly of the huge fish three days and three nights … so the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights” (Matthew 12:40). If Jonah wasn’t swallowed by a great fish, then Jesus was a liar or a lunatic, and certainly not the Lord. If you can’t believe all the Bible, then you can’t believe any of the Bible. Jesus believed!


Speaking of itself, the Bible says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16–17). It may not seem logical, or even possible. We don’t need to understand it. We simply accept it by faith!


Jonah, an Old Testament prophet and preacher, was sent to the city of Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian nation. Assyria was Israel’s nemesis, their enemy. “Why? Why would God want His message to be proclaimed in Nineveh?” Jonah, defied God’s command. He refused to obey. He rebelled. “Jonah got up to flee to Tarshish from the Lord’s presence. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. He paid the fare and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the Lord’s presence” (Jonah 1:3).


When a ferocious storm struck the Mediterranean, Jonah knew that God’s wrath was meant for him, so he told the sailors to throw him overboard. Though the sailors were hesitant, they tossed Jonah into the angry waves. Immediately the wind and waves ceased (Jonah 1:15), and Jonah was swallowed by the fish, or should I say, he was rescued by a gigantic fish.


According to the Bible, Jonah survived in the belly of the fish for seventy-two hours, three days and three nights. From deep in the sea, the runaway prophet’s prayers reached Heaven and “the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land” (Jonah 2:10). I suspect that the fish’s digestive juices gave him a new complexion, and the seaweeds, slime, and dead fish, gave Jonah an awful, rank odor. Obviously, Jonah was never the same. (I bet he never went on another boat ride! And the next time he took Mrs. Jonah out, he probably didn’t order the tuna.)


God could have given Jonah what he deserved… death by drowning or as fish food. He might have ended up in the belly of the fish in multiple pieces. He didn’t. I’m so glad that we serve the God of second chances!


Safely on shore, “the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: ‘Get up! Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach the message that I tell you’ ” (Jonah 3:1–2). God preserved Jonah’s life and He didn’t discard him as useless. He saved him and sent him!


The question isn’t, how could a fish swallow a human? The question is, why? The answer is… grace.