Text: Jonah 2:10-3:2
Before his experience inside the great fish Jonah did not exactly see things the way God saw them. Now that he was born again, he promised to be obedient to the will of God. From this point, though there were issue that needed resolving in his life, he would never be the same. This is a good illustration to show that sanctification is part of our everyday life after conversion.
The Sickly Fish (2:10)
As soon as Jonah repented the great fish vomited him up onto dry ground in Joppa. Spending three days and nights inside the belly of the fish must have taken its toll on him. His body would have appeared like it had been bleached, similar to how our hands look if we have them in water a long time, white and wrinkly. Add to this the fish’s gastric juices would have had an effect on his flesh. But the fish could not keep its meal down. This may be one of the reasons why the Ninevites responded to his call to repentance.
The Same Call – The Same Message (3:1-2)
God’s word and will never changes. Our life conditions may change, everything we rely upon might cease to exist, but God never changes. Our God is always faithful and reliable (Hebrews 13:8; James 1:17.) This is true with His word too. The Scriptures are constant truth regardless of how many millennia it sees. So Jonah’s commission had not changed and the message had not changed, but he had.
The God of the Second Chance
Where would we be if God rejected us the first time we failed Him? God did not give-up on the fleeing prophet; instead He ordained a way to get his full attention. He was longsuffering with him. God was perfecting His work in Jonah’s life. Both the work in Nineveh and in Jonah’s heart would continue to fruition. God’s word never returns to Him void … “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).
If we take a brief look at other Bible characters we will find that God never gives up on them:
a) Jacob. He tricked and connived his way into receiving the blessing, but he still had to wrestle with the angel at Peniel (Genesis 32:24-32.) The bout continued until Jacob agreed that he was beaten. His limp was a constant reminder that he must follow God’s will rather than his own.
b) David. David was “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14), but he still failed at the stumbling block of self-will. Adultery and murder were his downfall. As a consequence Bathsheba’s son died, and Absalom rebelled against him. He was forgiven and restored the moment he repented (Psalm 51), but throughout the rest of his life he would mourn over the death of Absalom (2 Samuel 18:33.)
c) Peter. Self-will was a problem for Peter. He thought he knew better than the Lord. He rejected the idea that he could ever deny Christ (Mark 14:31) but he soon did. He miserably failed his Saviour (Matthew 26:75.) After the rooster crowed three times, Peter would never be the same again. The Lord restored him and enabled him to preach the first sermon of the Church Age (Acts 3.)
The word of God came to Jonah a second time. This phrase speaks volumes about God’s love, mercy, and faithfulness. It also teaches us that He never fails us even when we fail Him (Philippians 1:16; 2 Timothy 2:13.) We should not have to reach a “great fish” situation before we come to our senses, but, sad to say, some cannot learn any other way. Those who submit to Christ will never be the same again.