A Man Swallowed By God
Mr. M. J. Michaux resides in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and is a frequent contributor to Focus magazine. We commend to our readers this practical, thought-provoking article on Jonah. Have you ever considered that you, like Jonah, need to be swallowed by a great fish?
This strange Hebrew prophet approached that great city as a humble, penitent, unknown man, filled with a message. He had done business with God in deep waters. Those waters had rolled over him, compassing him about, even unto his soul. The weeds had wrapped around his head. He went to the bottom, out of sight of men. There God dealt with his fainting soul. Afterwards he prayed and gave thanks, and set his face towards Nineveh.
He entered that great city after a long and arduous journey. It was a fabulous place “of towering walls, storied palaces, arsenals, barracks, libraries and temples. A lavish water system… gardens lifted up in mid-air, filled with rich plants and rare and beautiful animals… beyond the city walls great suburbs, and beyond the suburbs other towns, league upon league of dwellings, set close together upon the plain…”
How could such a humble man, though full of his message, reach such a proud city? How would he get them to listen to him? He had no need to worry. “God had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah.” This miraculous word preceded him into the city. They came to see this man swallowed by god, their god, for they worshipped Dagon, the fish-god.
How deep and marvellous are the ways of Jehovah God!
God dealt with the disobedience of one man that His purposes might be fulfilled in 120,000! First, He took care of Jonah’s wilful, sinful acts. He took him down into deep waters and let the waves of death pass over him. He opened up the gates of hell and darkness to his eyes. He took him to the very “bottoms of the mountains,” cutting him off forever from the earth, taking him so low that he saw his corruption and cried out, “O Lord my God!” Then He lifted him up so high he was breathless with the voice of thanksgiving. “Salvation is of the Lord!”
Jehovah God is exceedingly marvelous and His ways past finding out. Even while He dealt with Jonah’s disobedience, He “prepared a great fish.” He opened the door to Nineveh, so to speak. Jonah would appear among them as more than a Hebrew prophet. He would appear among them as a man swallowed by Dagon, their own fish-god. They met him at the edge of Nineveh. He had not gone but a third of the way across their great city, “one day’s journey,” before all the people believed Jonah’s God. The King of Nineveh heard, too, and rose from his throne, threw off his robes of authority, and humbled himself, sitting down in ashes.
Does this strange tale not tell us more of God’s sovereignty than many theological books? He “worketh all things after the counsel of His own will.” Even the winds and waves obey Him. But the weak things of the world give their testimony, too, for the “conies are a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks.” So from strong to weak, from high to low, from prophet to king, the Lord is supreme; He ruleth over all, and in all.
Oh, that we might be swallowed by a great fish! How many times have we run away from God’s calling! We have run south with a set will, when the call was to go north to a difficult test. We have slept while they toiled. We had no care for their care, no concern for their peril.
We need to be swallowed up. We need to lie in the belly of a great fish, still alive, but immobile. That would give God a chance to speak to us. There in that great darkness, moving with the fish, we would have no control over where we were going. Lying there, still, immobile, but carried along by the fish’s will, God could direct our paths. Finally, we would have time to think on all our ways, and see that the end of every one of them, all the ways of man, are the ways of death.
We may never be swallowed by a great fish, but we need to be. We need to be reminded that that Holy One of Israel went down to those depths for us. We shall never have to be brought to the bottoms of the mountains. He that knew no corruption went down for us into those deep waters. Those weeds were about his head. He drank the bitter dregs. He took all our corruptions upon Himself and freed us from death, who all our lifetime were afraid of death. He spoiled Hell itself, making a show of its ruler openly, nailing the law of death to the cross for all generations to see. He was three days and three nights in the earth, as Jonah was in the belly of the whale, but paying the penalty of our rebellion, not His own.
But He rose! He was victor over that dark domain! We meet him at the city’s edge, like the Ninevites of old. We believe Elohim, Almighty God! For we see what great things He has done. We see a man swallowed by the god of this world, but returning after three days preaching repentance to all men everywhere. Death and the grave could not hold Him. “I am the resurrection!” He declared. “And the life!”
Christian, sit no longer under your little tent of discontent, dwelling with your thought of how things should have been. The very gourd the Lord prepared as a shadow over your head, to deliver you from your grief, may also be consumed by a worm the Lord prepared.
Learn from Jonah. God is sovereign. Trust Him to do right, even as a child trusts his father. Do not be angry with God. He that prepared a great fish, and the gourd, and the worm, also prepared the souls of 120,000 Ninevites to accept Him as Elohim, Almighty God. So if He swallows you up for a season to quiet your disobedient heart, be patient. Though He take you to a watery grave, He will deliver you to dry land again, ready for His service, prepared for every good work, sanctified, a vessel of honour.