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Jonah 2 Part 4: Jonah Leaves the Fish
Jonah 2:10; Job 12:7-10 - Trust and Obey, like God’s Creation and Creatures
“Then the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah up onto the dry land.”
Jonah 2:10 NASB1995
After Jonah finishes his prayer to God and acknowledges to Him that salvation is only through Him, God talks to the sea creature and it vomits Jonah up onto the dry land. The creature instantly obeys God, without hesitation, and delivers Jonah in an inelegant, but rapid way back onto dry land.
There are profound implications in this simple verse, in my opinion. God obviously communicates with His creation and creatures, apart from humans. Nature is truly obedient to God and the natural laws He created. This obedience has found exceptions among most humans and possibly domestic cats - a joke, by the way, for anyone who have ever “owned” a cat. We don’t want to obey and often run as far as we can in the other direction to avoid obedience, just like Jonah.
I believe that God loves and cares for all life, but He, in His infinite power, focuses His deep love and redemptive power on those who are created in His image. He is the giver and author of life, a complex and poorly understood thing that often perplexes the smartest people with PhD degrees in Biology. From Job:
““But now ask the beasts, and let them teach you; And the birds of the heavens, and let them tell you. Or speak to the earth, and let it teach you; And let the fish of the sea declare to you. Who among all these does not know That the hand of the Lord has done this, In whose hand is the life of every living thing, And the breath of all mankind?”
Job 12:7-10 NASB1995
These words are from Job when he is rebutting the foolish advice of his friends. When God finally speaks to Job (in Job 38-41), He reiterates that He made and has control over all of creation. Here in the book of Jonah, He specifically demonstrates His powers over the seas and the creatures that live in them. One word from Him to the creature, who trusts the Creator, and Jonah is purged from its stomach and onto dry land.
So let’s talk about Jonah’s undignified exit from the sea creature - here is some relevant Commentary from Enduring Word:
And it vomited Jonah onto dry land.
Vomited Jonah: Sometimes we don’t have much of a choice about how we will be delivered. Jonah might have preferred another method, but God had a purpose in this also.
Jonah’s deliverance came after Jonah’s repentance was complete. Jonah wasn’t just sorry for what he did; he was now trusting God again. In many believers today, there is a work of God, or an aspect of His deliverance, that will remain undone as long as that believer resists Him and refuses to trust God.
Jonah’s deliverance came after three days and nights had passed, providing a foreshadowing of Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus said, For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth (Matthew 12:40).
Pointing towards the Messiah to come, Jesus Christ, we see that Jonah’s deliverance came after a remarkable demonstration of laying down one’s life. Jonah gave his life to appease the wrath of God coming upon others. But death did not hold him; after three days and nights of imprisonment, he was alive and free.
Onto dry land: It is commonly thought that Jonah was vomited out on the shores of Nineveh – but we are not told that this was the case, especially because Nineveh is about 375 miles from the Mediterranean Sea. If Jonah did walk into Nineveh right from the belly of the fish, it would have been a miraculous projection of the fish’s vomit.
A key takeaway from this commentary is that there is work that God wants us to do or an aspect of His deliverance that remains undone as long as we don’t trust Him and we resist obeying Him. Jonah learned this the hard way, as do many believers.
My next devotional explores Jonah 3:1-2, where God gives Jonah a task remarkably similar to the one He gave him in Jonah 1.
Heaven on Wheels Daily Prayer:
Dear Lord - Help me, Lord, to trust You and obey, like the billions of creatures You have made, knowing that Your plans and ways are truly best for me and for everyone who believes in You. Amen!
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. lockman.org
Commentary from Enduring Word by David Guzik is used with written permission.