In and Through: Jonah In Ship, Waves, Fish, City, Shadow

In and Through: Jonah In Ship, Waves, Fish, City, Shadow June 8, 2019

In continuing my efforts to understand the Lord emphasizing our relationship as being in and through, (click on this link for Part I In and Through: In a Lions Den and a Fiery Furnace), I followed the thought to look at Jonah’s story.

Initially, I’d just expected to review Jonah’s experience in the fish.  But I was drawn to other parts of his story—in a ship, in the waves, in the fish, in Ninevah, in the shadow he sought from the heat.

Jonah IN the Ship

The word of the Lord came “unto Jonah.” Jonah didn’t let it in. Instead, he decided to flee from the presence of the Lord.

But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.

But the Lord sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken.

Wind and tempest IN the sea from the Lord.

Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep.

Wares IN the sea from the sailers.

Jonah IN the belly of the ship, asleep.

Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego hearkened to the Lord but were thrown into their deadly pits. Jonah, however, fled from the Lord, and entered IN his pit. It became deadly while he slept.

IN the Sea

So the shipmaster came to him, and said unto him, What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not.

And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah.

Then said they unto him, Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this evil is upon us; What is thine occupation? and whence comest thou? what is thy country? and of what people art thou?

And he said unto them, I am an Hebrew; and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land.

Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him, Why hast thou done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them.

Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous.

And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you.

Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not: for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous against them.

Wherefore they cried unto the Lord, and said, We beseech thee, O Lord, we beseech thee, let us not perish for this man’s life, and lay not upon us innocent blood: for thou, O Lord, hast done as it pleased thee.

So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging.

Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the Lord, and made vows.

Others, fearful, threw Jonah IN the tempestuous sea. Like Daniel’s den of lions and the Hebrews’ fiery furnace, the sea became a pit of expected death. Jonah fell into the sea. The others were saved by divine intervention and even the Lord and His angel. What about Jonah?

IN the Fish

Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God out of the fish’s belly,

One of my favorite prayers in scripture.  Excepting the Savior’s prayers, I’ve read and reread this prayer more than any other.  Jonah was IN the belly of hell. He was dead. Then his prayer came IN the temple.

 And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.

For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me.

Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple.

The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head.

I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O Lord my God.

When my soul fainted within me I remembered the Lord: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple.

They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.

But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowedSalvation is of the Lord.

Jonah, IN hell, prayed and his words came IN unto the Lord and His temple. He recommits his covenant. He acknowledges salvation through Jesus Christ.

And the Lord spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.

As I looked for a Divine Presence, I realized that for New Testamental Saints, the fish became a symbol for Christ.

IN Ninevah

And the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time, saying,

Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.

So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great cityof three days’ journey.

And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.

So, Jonah entered a new pit—a city that took three days to cross. Three days in a pit, of course, hearkens to the Savior’s tomb.

Surprisingly, the people believed!

They began to fast and put on sackcloth.

For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.

The king sat IN ashes. He commanded everyone to fast and turn “from the violence that is IN their hands.”

God forgave them and they did not die.

Ninevah became their pit. They evaluated their works and faith. They were saved.

IN the Shadow

Jonah, angry and bitter about their salvation, left the city to see what would happen.

So Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the city.

The Lord prepared a gourd, a vine, to shade Jonah. He was glad. The next day, the vine died and Jonah fainted IN the sun and wished to die.

And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death.

Then said the Lord, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up [IN] a night, and perished [IN] a night:

And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?

And that abruptly ends Jonah’s story! Did he find deliverance from his final pit?

The Lord found him IN all of his pits and offered him deliverance and salvation repeatedly.  Unlike Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego’s stories, we don’t know if Jonah truly accepted it.

Jonah’s IN stories offer me hope and consolation. I have fled from the Lord’s commandment when scared or willful. I’ve found myself repeatedly in pits. And I’ve found repeated offers of deliverance. I’m grateful for a God of second chances…or third…or fourth…

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