Fishy tale

The Eye of God Nebula

Fishy tale

For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights. – Matt 12:40

Jon 1:3-17

 3 But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the LORD. He went down to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish. He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping to escape from the LORD by sailing to Tarshish.

 4 But the LORD hurled a powerful wind over the sea, causing a violent storm that threatened to break the ship apart.

 5 Fearing for their lives, the desperate sailors shouted to their gods for help.

 7 Then the crew cast lots to see which of them had offended the gods and caused the terrible storm. When they did this, the lots identified Jonah as the culprit.

 8 “Why has this awful storm come down on us?” they demanded. “Who are you? What is your line of work? What country are you from? What is your nationality?”

 9 Jonah answered, “I am a Hebrew, and I worship the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land.”

 10 The sailors were terrified when they heard this, for he had already told them he was running away from the LORD. “Oh, why did you do it?” they groaned.

 14 Then they cried out to the LORD, Jonah’s God. “O LORD,” they pleaded, “don’t make us die for this man’s sin. And don’t hold us responsible for his death. O LORD, you have sent this storm upon him for your own good reasons.”

 15 Then the sailors picked Jonah up and threw him into the raging sea, and the storm stopped at once!

 16 The sailors were awestruck by the LORD’s great power, and they offered him a sacrifice and vowed to serve him.

 17 Now the LORD had arranged for a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was inside the fish for three days and three nights.

Probably Jonah is one of the best known yet least understood books in the Bible. From the world’s point of view, Jonah and the whale are a part of mythical legendary history. The book is looked upon with ridicule and disbelief and is laughed out of the Bible as being a kind of fable. It is not taken seriously; it is not taken historically (Steadman).

However, it is noteworthy that the Lord Jesus Christ believed that the story of Jonah being three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish was both historical and prophetic of His time in the grave (Matt 12:40).

The records of the British Admiralty tell the story of James Bartley, an apprentice seaman on a whaler, who was swallowed by a whale in February 1891. He survived the ordeal, and this is his amazing story.

He was in a long boat in pursuit of a whale. Suddenly the longboat surged, and he was thrown into the water apparently lost at sea.

The whale was eventually caught, and crewmen removed its stomach. They were startled when they saw movement. Out slid Bartley alive but unconscious.  He regained consciousness but babbled incoherently.

Within a month he regained his senses and told his tale.

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After he was flung into the sea, the last thing he saw was a tremendous mouth open over him and engulf him. He was swept over the teeth and slid down a slimy tube into the stomach of the whale. He could breathe but the hot fetid odor rendered him unconscious. He was trapped in the stomach of the whale for over 15 hours.

Although he was relatively healthy, Bartley lost all the hair on his body and his skin was bleached to an unnatural whiteness. He was blind for the rest of his life. 

He died eighteen years after his terrifying adventure and remarkable survival. On his tombstone in the churchyard at Gloucester is a brief account of his experience at sea and a footnote, which says: James Bartley -1870-1909 – A Modern Jonah.

REFLECT & PRAY

There is no way we can get away from the Father no matter how hard we try.

Father none of us want to be reluctant servants, yet we see ourselves in Jonah, defiant and disobedient. Father encourage us to listen and heed to your instructions.

INSIGHT

The Father commissioned Jonah as one of His spokesmen. He ordered him to go to the Assyrian capital of Nineveh and pronounce judgment against it for its wickedness. Jonah probably muttered under his breath, “no way, I’m outta here!” Rather than obeying the Father, Jonah fled in the opposite direction. Nineveh and Tarshish were then at opposite ends of the known world. For the Father it was rather simple to track him down and get him moving in the right direction. Having power over all of nature, the Father prepared a great storm and a great fish. In  retrospect, to get Jonah where He wanted him to be, He provided a living submarine.

When the great storm came up, the pagan sailors were terrified. They screamed out to their gods in prayer and tried to lighten the load. But nothing helped. They confronted Jonah.

Jon 1:8-10

 8 “Why has this awful storm come down on us?” they demanded. “Who are you? What is your line of work? What country are you from? What is your nationality?”

 9 Jonah answered, “I am a Hebrew, and I worship the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land.”

 10 The sailors were terrified when they heard this, for he had already told them he was running away from the LORD. “Oh, why did you do it?” they groaned.

Once they realized that Jonah was a reluctant Jewish prophet who was running away from the Father, the Lord, the God of heaven, they were even more terrified.

By process of elimination, they realized that the God of Israel was in fast pursuit of Jonah. The terrifying storm was part of the Father’s plan to get him turned around. Reluctantly they threw Jonah into the sea and the storm immediately ceased.

Jonah 1:16 The sailors were awestruck by the LORD’s great power, and they offered him a sacrifice and vowed to serve him.

The pagans immediately repented and walked the aisle. From then on, they would serve the Father, the Lord God of Israel.

Jonah on the other hand found himself in the belly of the great fish and still defiant. Objectively speaking, this is really a bad idea. Jonah repents, but not with his whole heart, he holds back. But that’s a story for another day.

A word about whales and great fish. Undoubtedly people who lived in the land of Israel 2700 years ago had little experience with British whalers. They probably had never seen a whale. When Jonah wrote, he called the creature simply a great fish, in Hebrew dag gadol.

Long before the book of Jonah, the Father created all of the animals, land, air, and sea. It is not hard to imagine, that the Father, knowing Jonah’s future experience before it occurred, prepared exactly what was required to fashion the first underwater people mover.

Sperm whales are different from all other creatures. They are up to 60 feet long. Sperm whales have the largest head of any animal. It can be about 20 feet long, 10 feet high, and 7 feet across, and is about one-third of the whale’s body length. Just the right size to swallow in one gulp a man. The stomach could easily hold him.

Of course it was no problem for the omniscient, omnipotent Father to position the sperm whale in just the right place, at the right time to catch the reluctant prophet and transport him alive to shore. The miracle was that Jonah was not digested during the three days and three nights he was in his first-class, luxurious traveling accommodations.

One thought on “Fishy tale

  1. Very interesting to hear about the seaman who was inside a sperm whale for 15 hours. God could have saved Jonah from drowning any number of more conventional ways – but that He chose this really unpleasant, miraculous method of salvation is so unique and typical of the honesty of the Bible.

    Paula

    >

    Like

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