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Love Your City - Part 3, Jonah in the Belly of the Whale
Miles McPherson - March 11, 2012

Message Recap

C9ynFMbowWUWhen God calls you to do something and you refuse, God can cause something to happen in your life to turn you around.  For Jonah, God prepared a fish to swallow him whole for three days after he is throws overboard in the storm (Jonah 1:17-2:10). 

Could this really have happened?  We don’t know exactly the type of sea creature that swallowed Jonah, but Jesus affirms the Jonah story as real and supernatural. (Matthew 12:40-41)

When God calls you to do something and you refuse, God can cause something to happen in your life to turn you around.

Here are modern statistics about sea animals that tell us it is naturally possible:
  • A sperm whale weighs 40-50 tons and is up to 60 feet long.  Would that be big enough?
  • A blue whale’s heart alone weight up to 1300 pounds.  Its arteries are so large that a small child could walk through them.  Up to 50 people could stand on the blue whale’s tonguge, which weighs up to 3 tons.  A blue whale has been documented to be 100 feet long with a mouth 10 feet wide and cranial cavities 7’x7’x14’.  Is it large enough to swallow a man whole?
  • Whole animals even larger than a human have been found in the stomachs of the sperm whale, the whale shark and the white shark.
  • There is enough air in the stomach of a whale to sustain life, and the whale’s digestive secretions do not start until swallowed animal has died.

As for supernatural reasoning:
  • God can do whatever He wants.  He spoke the earth into existence, so He could certainly instruct a creature that He made to do His will.
  • God could have chosen to miraculously preserve Jonah’s life in the whale, but He could have also chosen to let Jonah die inside the whale and then raise Him from the dead.  (Note that there are eight other resurrections in the Bible).

Regardless of the natural or supernatural details, the Bible tells us that inside the whale, Jonah has a change of heart and decides to cry out to God.  He turns to God in the midst of his pain and the consequences of disobedience. 

Some of us are in the fish belly right now.  God has called us to do something, but we are suffering trials and consequences because of our disobedience.  As Jonah models for us, even when we are at our lowest point, we can always come to God.  We don’t need to fix everything and get it right before we ask for His help and His presence.  (But we do need to be committed to turn away from our prior disobedience!)

1. The fish belly is prepared by God.

The men who threw Jonah overboard asked God for forgiveness, thinking that Jonah would die in the stormy sea (v. 14), but God had a different plan in place.  Knowing that Jonah needed more time to change his heart and make a different decision, He prepared a fish to swallow Jonah for three days.  He used the right timing and the right circumstances to have an impact on Jonah’s life.

Whatever God needs to do in your life to get you on track, He can prepare it in advance.  Have you ever had a trial come that made you think, “Why now? This is the worst possible timing for this to happen!”  Maybe it is actually the best time for God to get your attention and teach you something that you wouldn’t learn otherwise. 

2. The fish belly isn’t intended to imprison you forever.

Isn’t that encouraging?  If you are experiencing a trial in your life at the moment, know that even this shall pass.  As we read from Psalm 30:5, Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. 

Take a tip from Jonah and use this time of heartache to get your heart right with the Lord.  When you learn to trust in Him, no trial can crush you. 

Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  Philippians 4:11-13

You can handle anything if you trust Jesus!

3. The fish belly is designed to equip you to serve.

God used the whale to prepare Jonah to be obedient.  Once Jonah is spit onto dry land, covered in fish and seaweed from having been inside of a belly for three days, it’s pretty likely that his primary thoughts at that point were to do go to Nineveh, just as God had asked.

All God wants you to do is to serve Him and others, but this doesn’t come naturally to us, as we are all selfish beings.  The only way we learn to follow Him is to deny ourselves.  The Lord wants you to be a part of loving His people, which transforms them and you.  If you are resisting God’s plan, He can use trials in your life to prepare you to be obedient.

Love Your City

This 6-part series shares how God has called the Rock Church to love San Diego and beyond by being a catalyst for Pervasive Hope. In Part 3, Miles reveals what happens if you get caught in the fish's belly.

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