“Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish's belly, and said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and He heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and Thou heard my voice." Jonah 2:1-2
As a child I loved the story of Jonah, Unlike Job, and more like us, Jonah purposely decides to disobey God; and then, in continued stubbornness, he tries desperately to flee from the sight of Him. The story begins with God asking Jonah to warn the people of Nineveh about their behavior, but Jonah believes Nineveh is wicked, and should perish. So, Jonah decides to go as far in the opposite direction as he can. Well, you know the rest of the story concerning the whale, so let's fast-forward.
Back in Nineveh, Jonah does such a great job convincing the 60,000 people of Nineveh to repent, that their king orders prayer, fasting, sacrifice, and worship to God. This includes every man, woman, child, and beasts of burden. God, in His infinite compassion, decides to have mercy and not destroy Nineveh. However, Jonah is thoroughly disgusted! —This is the very reason he ran from God in the first place; he knew God would have mercy and save Nineveh! Yet surprisingly, God allows Jonah to be angry; and, at the end of the story, He explains why He saved the city of Nineveh by asking Jonah, "Shall I destroy 60,000 people who cannot discern between their left and right hand?" (Jonah 3:11)
So, let's recap. Jonah, a die-hard Believer, hoping that an evil city and its people are destroyed, decides to disobey God by fleeing from His sight, just so he doesn't have to warn the populace to repent. Sailors throw him into the ocean to die; but, God rescues him, keeping him in the gastric bypass of a whale for 3 days, until he can't take it anymore and prays his way out. He finally does what God commanded him to do, and what happens to the evil people? Nothing! —No death, no destruction, not even a little mayhem. The people are saved! Sounds familiar? —It should.
If you are a Christian Pastor / Leader / Believer, and you purposely disobey God, you are going to be forgiven upon repentance; but, like Jonah, you are also going to pay for your disobedience. Don't bother to point to the ones who are constantly opposing God; the Bible says, they “…cannot discern between their left and right hand.” So for now, they will have Divine Grace... But you—you will be in the belly of the whale praying your way out! L.
Reference Study: Jonah 2:1-10, 3:11
From: "Praying Your Way Out." In The Master's Hands: 365 Daily Devotions for Everyday Living.
Copyright © 2014 by Lavona E. Campbell
photo: picture adventures