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Fish For Dinner

Among critics of the Bible there are few passages, other than in the Books of Daniel and Revelation, discussed more often than that of Jonah and the great fish.  This account has been ridiculed perhaps as frequently as any in the Bible.  It is much to difficult, critics declare, to believe that such a fish could swallow a man, and then the man subsequently emerge alive and well three days later.  In reality, however, the problem with this account is not the fact that a fish could swallow a man.  While in the past it was suggested that no fish had a gullet large enough to allow it to swallow a man, today it is acknowledged that the sperm whale, which inhabits the Mediterranean Sea, is capable of swallowing an object as large as, or larger than, a man.

The whale shark and other great marine animals can do likewise.

Nor is the problem an argument over whether a man could live for approximately three days inside such an animal.  Accounts of that actually happening have been documented in the last century.

Even though large fish most certainly exist with a throat large enough to swallow a man, and even though it has been documented that a man can live three days inside such a fish, these matters actually are beside the point.  They are irrelevant because the text acknowledges that GOD's miraculous powers were at work in the life of Jonah.  The problem with the account of Jonah is actually a problem with the power of GOD.  GOD's power was evident in the life of Jonah and those around him.

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.  Jonah 1:17

GOD prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah.

And the LORD spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land. Jonah 2:10

GOD merely spoke unto the fish and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.  Read the Book of Jonah and notice how many times GOD intervened, in some way, in the life of Jonah, for his benefit and for others as well.

Mockery is directed at the account of Jonah because it is miraculous, not because of the size of a fish's gullet or the life span of a man inside a fish's stomach.  People do not want to believe in the supernatural power of GOD.  If there is a GOD.and he is powerful. choices must be made.

Follow the logic.If GOD exists, then miracles are possible.  If there was a creation by GOD, then His supernatural power is credible, because GOD could easily choose to intervene in His creation at any time.  If Jesus was raised from the dead, then the supernatural power of GOD is not only possible, but was proven.  Therefore, then, the rejection of the supernatural power of GOD is the rejection of Jesus.  This logic may mean little to the hard-boiled atheist, or to the religious modernist who attacks the account in Jonah as nothing more than a myth and who long ago gave up any real belief in the deity of Jesus, but it should be crystal clear to anyone who puts their trust in the hands of the Living GOD.

Note that the Biblical account in Jonah is presented as authentic history, detailing the conversion of multitudes of people in a real city, the great Assyrian city of Nineveh.   Jonah is discussed as a real prophet in the Book of Second Kings.  Ancient Jewish historians and commentators,  accepted the entire record of Jonah.

Probably the most compelling reason for accepting the record of Jonah is that Jesus Himself accepted it.

The men of Nineveh shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and, behold, a greater than Jonah is here.  Luke 11:32

Jesus commented on the men of Nineveh as real people who repented at the preaching of Jonah, also a real person. 

For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.  Matthew 12:40

Jesus appropriated Jonah's miraculous preservation and restoration as a type and prophecy of His own death, burial, and resurrection.

Was Jesus was mistaken, and simply unaware of His mistake in regard to Jonah?   Jonah really did not spend three days in the belly of a great fish, even though Jesus said that he did. Is it possible that Jesus lied about the whole thing?  Is possible that Jesus knew that the events recorded never really took place, but He still employed the account as if it actually had taken place, in order to affect a comparison with His own situation?  Or. did Jesus tell the truth regarding the matter; the events recorded in the book of Jonah really did occur, and as such, were used appropriately by the Lord in reference to His own impending death and the circumstances surrounding it?

Jonah and Jesus stand or fall together.  It is not possible to renounce the account of Jonah, as if it were some kind of unimportant fairy tale, and then advocate the truthfulness of the deity of Jesus at the same time.  Jesus' testimony was that the events surrounding Jonah in his day and time were as literal, and as historical, as the events of Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection would be in His.  The evidence for the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, attests to the veracity of the life and times of Jonah the reluctant prophet.

GOD used a reluctant man to teach the world about obedience and compassion. The lessons from Jonah are as relevant today as they were then.

GOD had called Jonah to be a prophet and deliver GOD's messages.  Jonah refused, and had to learn the lesson of obedience.  GOD wanted him to preach a message of repentance and mercy to the Assyrians who were Israel's most dreaded enemy.   Jonah preached the message, but with bitterness and anger. Only later did he learn about compassion.

If Jonah was real, is there anything we can learn from him, and actually apply to our lives in the twenty-first century?  Can we be encouraged by the life of someone who lived so long ago?  Since, in scripture, eight is the number meaning to make fat or bountiful, could there be eight encouragements from GOD given by the example of Jonah in scripture that would make our lives more abundant?  Maybe so. lets investigate!

First, GOD doesn't always pick the nice men and the nice women. Jonah was far from perfect. But GOD's way is to choose and to use flawed human material, changing them as He uses and remakes them.

Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.  Hebrews 13:20-21

Second, GOD forgives when we blow it.  Jonah was not successful the first time.  GOD gives all the privilege of serving Him, despite all our deficiencies.  Even if you blow it in the attempt, He is there to forgive you .  He promised us that!

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  1 John 1:9

Third, GOD's grace is available for everyone.  Jonah did not want the people of Nineveh to repent and come under GOD's favor.  He was a Jewish patriot who was focused on his own people, not a horde of Assyrians, who were some of the most ruthless people on the face of the earth, at the time.  But he could not deny GOD's love and care for them.

For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Titus 2:11

Fourth, GOD likes honest prayers. Jonah told GOD exactly how he felt.proud, bitter, and angry. We are invited to speak to GOD from where we are, with or without, poor attitudes, lack of hope, or not loving others.

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16

Fifth, you cannot get away from GOD.  GOD said to Jonah, go to Nineveh.  Jonah went the other way . physically and spiritually.  He thought he could run away from the Lord's presence.  God not only followed Jonah, but also created a situation where Jonah needed His help.

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:38-39

Sixth, GOD shows mercy over and over again. GOD showed mercy to the pagan crew on the ship, as well as to the people of Nineveh - in spite of their disbelief and disobedience. He loves the whole world.

Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.  Psalms 106:1

Seventh, we are to love our enemies as well as your friends. Jonah was a reluctant prophet and had a healthy hatred for the people of Nineveh. Eventually he learned compassion towards them. GOD is supremely glorified when you are merciful to enemies and wrongdoers, and desire and seek their welfare.

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; Matthew 5:44

Eighth, GOD restores sinners. GOD gave Jonah a second chance. After rescuing him from the belly of the fish, GOD gave Jonah a second chance to go to Nineveh. This time Jonah obeyed. GOD restored Jonah to ministry and gave him success. GOD wants to give you a second chance.

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

Jonah had a fish for dinner, but Jonah was the meal!  That great fish was in a sense a "fisher of men".  Was Jesus thinking of Jonah, his life, his trails, his reluctance and finally his obedience when he said these words to Simon and Andrew?

And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.  Mark 1:17

Maybe He was. 

Be blessed and meditate or meditate and be blessed!!!!. The choice is yours!!
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