Covered, Not Consumed
17. The Lord sent a huge fish to
swallow Jonah, and Jonah was
in the stomach of the fish three days
and three nights. 1. Jonah prayed to
the Lord his God from the stomach
of the fish. Jonah 1:17–2:1
Sadly this passage highlights someone being obedient that is not the Prophet of God. Yep, here the giant fish is hearing the Word and instructions of the Lord, realizing that it was his responsibility and to respond to the creator and being obedient. The fish, denies its natural instinct, goes against its own personal will and lends itself to the desires of God for 3 day and 3 nights.
How do you respond to the Lord?
Many of us have a challenge finding 3 hours to yield to God, let alone 3 days and 3 nights. Some of us can find 3 days, but they would not be consecutive days, and not consecutive hours. Our personal desires compete with God’s will. We find ourselves seeking God, opening to listening to God, but struggle finding agreement with what we hear because we often frustrated because some of our assignments are not beneficial to us.
Is your Obedience to God Relative to How it Benefits you?
Swallowing Jonah was of no benefit to the fish. He could not consume him, he could only cover him. It’s possible because he was in the stomach of the fish, that he spent these 3 days and 3 nights going without food. In reading, the text reveals the details as they unfold. In verse 17 of chapter 1, God sends the fish, and three days later it receives its next set of instructions. This is important because the fish was just obedient. The what to do was clear, but the how long was not. The fish was committed to the will of God no matter what. He was not concerned about the length of time, but was consumed with making sure God’s will on earth was done as it was in heaven. We too must have this perspective. God gives the Word to “go”, and we must continue to we hear God say “stop!”
I can imagine what Jonah, the Captain and Crew were thinking as he was thrown over the edge an a huge fish surfaces to consume Joshua. They probably though it was the last time they would see him. But they didn’t know that the fish was not sent to consume him, but to cover him while he reaffirmed his covenant.
He was Covered, not Consumed!
Maybe you are like Jonah! There have been times where people wrote you off. They left you for dead. Thought your situation was so grim that it couldn’t be survived. They saw you being consumed and thought you would be digested and discarded as waste. Thanks be to God, He is a restorer! He could have destroyed Jonah, but He chose to give him another chance. He allowed Jonah to spend some time in solitude. Gave him a chance to deal with himself, and consider the error of his ways.
What you thought was Consumed was Consecration
He gave Jonah time to reconsider his path of disobedience and to refocus on his will to align with the One he was called to serve. Have you had a moment like this in your life? I thank God that He not only prepares a place for me in the presence of my enemies, but that He will create space for me to spend time worshiping Him! He sent Jonah a sanctuary. He provided him a place to cry out. He provided him a place to make an altar, and gave him an opportunity to surrender to Him. Jonah was able to cast off burdens and constraint and to reconnect with the divine, once again a living sacrifice pleasing to God.
I felt guilty celebrating the fishes obedience to Jonah. It occurred me that Jonah, much like the fish, was being sent to a group of people that were being disobedient, but they remained in displeasure to the Lord because Jonah refused to be obedient. Jonah was given the space to change his mind and ways, but the people of Nineveh were being denied that by his decision. Who is being denied a chance to change because of your selfishness and judgmental ways? I wonder how many people have remained in sin because of my actions? My refusal to go and speak to those whom God has sent me too. My thoughts about who deserves God’s grace and mercy, my beliefs about who are beyond being made righteous.
I want to challenge each of you to reconsider your thoughts and ways. Be open to listen to the Lord, and be obedient to his instructions. Make sure that each person has the chance to hear God’s Word and to respond to His Word, lest people suffer because you didn’t love God and people enough to share with them, that which was given to you freely.