Hi. Welcome to Redeem the Commute. I’m Ryan, your host of the daily challenges. Today is Tuesday, the day we study the Bible together. This week we’re going to study the story of Jonah. Yes, the one who gets swallowed by a big fish. Now, we’ve put Jonahs’ story after last week’s study of Isaiah because Jonah was considered a prophet, even if a minor one, since he spoke for God. Jonah’s story dates to about 782 to 753 BC, so this would actually have happened shortly before Isaiah’s prophecies. Here’s the story:
Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the LORD.
But the LORD hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up. Then the mariners were afraid, and each cried out to his god. And they hurled the cargo that was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone down into the inner part of the ship and had lain down and was fast asleep. So the captain came and said to him, “What do you mean, you sleeper? Arise, call out to your god! Perhaps the god will give a thought to us, that we may not perish.”
And they said to one another, “Come, let us cast lots, that we may know on whose account this evil has come upon us.” So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah. Then they said to him, “Tell us on whose account this evil has come upon us. What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?” And he said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” Then the men were exceedingly afraid and said to him, “What is this that you have done!” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them.
Then they said to him, “What shall we do to you, that the sea may quiet down for us?” For the sea grew more and more tempestuous. He said to them, “Pick me up and hurl me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you, for I know it is because of me that this great tempest has come upon you.” Nevertheless, the men rowed hard to get back to dry land, but they could not, for the sea grew more and more tempestuous against them. Therefore they called out to the LORD, “O LORD, let us not perish for this man’s life, and lay not on us innocent blood, for you, O LORD, have done as it pleased you.” So they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows.
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. (Jonah 1 ESV)
Now, note that the story says it was a great fish, not a whale, even though that’s how many people envision the story!
We see here Jonah getting a specific calling from God to go and preach to Nineveh so they will change their ways. This would have scared him – they were a hostile people whose rebellion against God was well known. They would not welcome a Jew, especially one who’d come to tell them God was displeased with their way of life.
So Jonah traveled in the exact opposite direction! God had to intervene. I asked you yesterday to imagine how God might intervene when someone is going the opposite direction from where he needs them. Did you come with a violent storm? Even if you did, what about a giant fish saving him from drowning?
If you did, then you must have already known the story, because that would have been a huge surprise for Jonah, and anyone hearing this story for the first time.
Tomorrow we’ll see what happened to Jonah after those three days. But first,
Question: What do you think Jonah did inside the fish? What difference do you think that time would make?