Worst Case Scenario
A quick review from last week, Jonah: Dramatic dude. Prophet, religious guy. RUNNING from God.
God told him to go to Nineveh (city of blood) and preach to them.
We left off with sailors getting saved, and Jonah getting thrown overboard.
Jonah 1:17, “And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.”
I think it’s important that we notice, God APOINTED a great fish. God chose a great fish. God is able to use whatever He wants to. Jonah wasn’t willing to be used, so God used a fish.
A lot of people read this verse, and they dismiss Jonah as a fictional work, because “how could Jonah have been in a fish for three days?”
Well, let’s look at some facts. There have been a few stories of people being eaten whole by whales, one James Bartley, has a pretty intense story. He was whaling and the whale broke his boat, then he got swallowed. When the crew of another boat killed the whale and began to cut it up, they found him in the stomach. The acid from the stomach had bleached him white and burned off all of his hair.
This is only a rumored story, but some marine biologists in San Diego, California did some research. Sperm whales have a 1.5 foot wide throat, they don’t chew their food, and they have multiple stomachs that slowly break down their food. These whales have been known to eat 450 lb. squid whole. They also are natural habitants of the Mediterranean Sea, where Jonah would have been.
The second candidate is also a natural habitant of the Mediterranean, the Great White Shark. With the size of their mouths, it is possible for them to swallow someone whole, and they have very slow metabolisms, so Jonah could have survived for quite some time.
It’s possible that Jonah was part of the original “Shark Week” up close and personal!!
This is a real person, a real story, something that actually happened. Jesus referenced it as real.
Just imagine being Jonah for a second here. You’re running from God, you get thrown off of a boat, and when you think that you’re about to drown, you get eaten.
Imagine what it would be like to realize that you’re inside an animal, and you are still alive.
That is where we pick up in Jonah chapter 2. This chapter cover’s Jonah’s prayer to God from inside the fish. It’s hot, it’s smelly, and Jonah is realizing that God isn’t done with Him yet.
Jonah 2:1-3, “Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the belly of the fish, saying, “I called out to the LORD, out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice. For you cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me; all your waves and your billows passed over me.”
Jonah still knows that God can hear him. Even from inside a fish. Jonah gives us a fantastic example of how we can pray anywhere. There was no cell phone service down there, no 3G, not even the EDGE network! Jonah was in quite a dead zone. Almost in more ways than one.
When Jonah says “out of the belly of Sheol” that word “Sheol” is literally, “the grave”. Jonah is expecting to die.
Jonah 2:4, “Then I said, ‘I am driven away from your sight; yet I shall again look upon your holy temple.”
God is letting Jonah know what it feels like to be separate from Him. I think that’s interesting, because Jonah worked so hard to get away from God. Now that he’s there, he’s calling out for God to come back.
God shows His love and His grace here though, He comforts Jonah in the fish. We don’t have the specific details, but something changes so that Jonah knows things will end up okay.
I can’t speak from experience on this, I’ve never been in a fish, I’m only assuming. But when you get eaten by a fish, I doubt that you’re thinking about how it will end up okay.
When Jonah turns to God, God comforts him even when he’s gotten himself into the worst possible circumstance. Turn to God, and let Him comfort you.
Jonah 2:5-7, “The waters closed in over me to take my life; the deep surrounded me; weeds were wrapped about my head at the roots of the mountains. I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me forever; yet you brought up my life from the pit, O LORD my God. When my life was fainting away, I remembered the LORD, and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple.”
Jonah recounts what happened, kind of poetically. He was sinking down to the bottom of the ocean. He was expecting to die. Then God saved him. I love how he puts it, “When my life was fainting away, I remembered The Lord.”
A life that forgets God until the end is a life saved, but a life wasted. Don’t be Jonah. Remember God today.
Jonah 2:8-9, “Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love. But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the LORD!”
The NIV translation says “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.”
Worthless idols can be anything that you have replaced God with. Even unintentionally. People can be worthless idols. Possessions can be worthless idols. Things that we want can be worthless idols.
Don’t forfeit grace. God is handing it to you right now.
It’s kind of interesting. This is the only time that we see the correct heart attitude in Jonah. Things are as bad as they can get. He’s in the worst case scenario. Think of how different things would have been if Jonah had started out with this attitude.
I promise that you do not want to look back on your life one day and think of how different it could have been if only you had followed Jesus. Don’t wait, follow Him today!
In this chapter, Jonah references 20 other Bible verses. Jonah KNEW the Bible!! But he didn’t submit his life to the words within it until everything was crashing down around him. Jonah knew God. Jonah knew God’s Word. Jonah was openly for God. But his life didn’t reflect it. Jonah knew God’s character and God’s Word, but chose to act against it.
Please, don’t be Jonah.
Jonah 2:10, “And the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land.”
God gave Jonah a second chance. Even with everything that Jonah had done wrong. Running from God, putting other people’s lives in danger. God’s grace still extended beyond Jonah’s sin.
God’s grace will always go farther than your sin.
God gave Jonah a second chance, but Jonah ran so far that God used Jonah getting swallowed whole to get his attention. You don’t want to be eaten by a fish. Don’t be Jonah.’
Any of us without Jesus are a lot like Jonah in this situation. We’re stuck somewhere, not getting anywhere on our own. We’re done for if we don’t get out. This is the end, this is it. We can’t keep going this way. We need something to interrupt us.
Just like how God gave Jonah a second chance, God is giving you a second chance right now.
Our second chance is found in Jesus. Jesus died on the cross to pay for your sin and make you right with God. He rose again on the third day.
Now we have something in common with Jonah. We know the truth. We have the information that Jesus loves us and died so taht we could be right with God. I’ve said this a few times, and I’ll say it one more time.
DON’T BE JONAH!
Jonah saw God’s truth and he didn’t respond to it until he was dying. Next week we’ll see how long the change lasts.
Don’t wait to respond to God. You know this truth that God loves you more than you could imagine, and He wants a relationship with you. Respond to that today. Give your life to Him. Stop running from Him and run into His arms.
Don’t forfeit the grace in front of you. Your second chance is today.