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Eternity 38 - And Jehovah Spoke To The Fish

Jonah 1:17-2:10 LITV And Jehovah had appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. (2:1) And Jonah prayed to Jehovah his God out of the belly of the fish. (2) And he said, I cried out to Jehovah from my distress. And He answered me. Out of the belly of Sheol I cried for help, and You heard my voice. (3) For You cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the current surrounded me; all Your breakers and Your waves passed over me. (4) And I said, I am cast off from Your eyes; yet I will again look to Your holy temple. (5) Waters encompassed me, even to my soul; the depth closed around me; seaweed was clinging to my head. (6) I went down to the bases of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me forever. But You brought up my life from the pit, O Jehovah my God. (7) When my soul fainted within me, I remembered Jehovah; and my prayer came to You, to Your holy temple. (8) Those who observe vanities of idolatry forsake their faithfulness; (9) but I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving; I will fulfill that which I have vowed. Salvation belongs to Jehovah! (10) And Jehovah spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out onto the dry land.

God talks to fish! At the end of Jonah's three days of intense prayer the Scriptures say "And Jehovah spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out onto the dry land".

Now if God can talk to a fish - then He can talk to you!

Sometimes we think of God as some distant metaphysical vapour, silently brooding over the Universe and making inscrutable moves like some chess grandmaster playing a very long game; and while He makes these ancient moves, we "wither and perish" as grasshoppers beneath His gaze.

This view is incorrect. These eleven verses from Jonah shows that God cares about His disobedient prophet, is prepared in advance with the fish, that God also hears prayer and responds, and that He is able to talk to fish and prophets and all His creatures. These verses are a cameo of the inner workings of divine providence.

Some days I wonder if God sees me at my computer, if He even remembers His missionary in Manila. If, like Jonah, I vanished overboard and sank to the depths, would anyone notice? Or would there just be a quiet splash and a few bubbles?

These verses in Jonah tell me that God was watching every step of His prophet and caring for his every need and bringing Jonah out of rebellion into obedience.

God listened to the prophet's frantic prayers and even made sure that he did not get his feet wet or have to swim ashore; for the fish "vomited Jonah out onto dry land". God does see me at my computer - and you at your workplace and you matter to Him. (See Psalm 139)

Notice the difference between Jonah's theology in His prayer and the implied theology in the passage. In verse seven Jonah says "my prayer came to You, to Your holy temple." For Jonah God is located "in His holy temple", for Jonah God lives in a gold covered box of acacia wood in a magnificent building in Jerusalem. But the obvious context of the passage is that God was right there, speaking to the fish, which was carrying Jonah.

God was at sea, and on land, and in the Temple and well -everywhere! He would even turn up in pagan Nineveh! The "God who controls everything and turns up everywhere" could be a sub-title for the book of Jonah.

We find God controlling storms, fish, kings, cities, broom trees, worms and east winds. And God is in Israel and with prophets and sailors and at sea and on land and in all countries of the world - even the bad ones.

God is not just in church, He is at your workplace, your home, your holiday venue and even in prison (with Peter, Paul, Daniel and many others).

The God who controls everything and turns up everywhere is also able to talk to fish. He is in communication with His whole Creation which obeys His will.

Jesus spoke to storms and fig-trees and demons and they all obeyed Him.

God is not so proud that He cannot chat with a sparrow, or so vast that He cannot speak to you and I. Elijah stood at the mouth of the cave, and there was a great wind and an earthquake and a fire... and finally a still small voice, and God spoke to Elijah. (1 Kings 19: 11-14)

God's voice may not be spectacular, but it is still Him that speaks and restores and commissions. Remember the God who is interested in fish - is also interested in you!


John Edmiston


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