THE BELLY of the BEAST
APRIL 12, 2014
The Glory Road Blog, A Kingdom Highway
“I cried out to the Lord from my tribulation, and he heeded me. From the belly of hell, I cried out, and you heeded my voice” (Jonah 2:3, CPDV).
The title today comes from one of
Jonah is the perfect example of Rohr’s premise. Jesus mentioned Jonah when he was teaching a crowd of people, calling them
This reluctant prophet’s story takes only four short chapters to tell, but the gist of it is this. God told Jonah
There is no indication of any danger to Jonah’s person involved here. No wicked Queen threatening to kill him; no evil prophets trying to discredit him. It was a straightforward mission from God. Ninevah was the capitol of Assyria, located on the Tigris River, a three days journey for the prophet to travel. Instead of heading toward that city,
I’m sure you remember the story, though I do encourage you to read it again. It amazes me that he thought he had any chance of succeeding in his reckless abandonment of God’s assignment. A horrific storm came up, sent by God to teach him a lesson. The violence of the tempest terrified the sailors because the ship was about to break apart.
Jonah was a nonchalant sort of fellow, for while his fellow travelers were up top throwing out cargo to lighten the ship, he was taking a nap below deck. They woke him up and pleaded with him to call upon his god. They cast lots to see whose fault their predicament was, and it fell upon Jonah. They asked him where he came from. He answered,
When the terrified mariners asked what they should do to appease his God, Jonah instructed them to toss him overboard. They really did not want to do that, but as there was no other recourse, they complied with his request. God provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and he was inside the fish three days and three nights. From within the belly of the beast, Jonah repented and cried out to the Lord, promising to sacrifice to Him. God heard his repentant cry and commanded the fish to vomit him up. I can’t imagine what being in the belly of a great fish may have felt like, but it probably wasn’t any picnic for the fish either.
Once Jonah was on dry land, he set off for Ninevah, where he delivered the word God had sent him to speak. The inhabitants of that city were cut to the quick, and
Like a spoiled child, Jonah threw a fit and said
OK, so let me get this straight: Jonah was furious because he had put out all the effort to get there, was swallowed by a whale, but now, he would miss the fireworks of God’s punishment, because these Ninevites had repented. He went out and sat in a place east of the city and waited to see what would happen. Did he think someone wouldn’t get the memo about repentance and God would send a lightning bolt down to fry him? We don’t know, but he made a shelter, and
The Lord said to him, “You have been concerned about this vine though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. But Ninevah has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left
Throughout the Bible, there is evidence that God cared about the whole world, not just Israel. When Jesus was teaching the crowds and condemning them for seeking a sign, He observed,
It seems to me that the
Have you ever been in such soul’s torment that you thought you would die from the pain? Have you felt like God has forsaken you because He has left you to suffer alone? Have you lamented that nobody knows the trouble you’ve seen and even if they did know, they couldn’t help at all? Jonah experienced all those feelings, from
Scripture reveals that God is the authority for all the trials and troubles which befall us, tailor made to bring us down from wherever our ego has taken us, and He has done that, not to kill us, though it often feels like death is very near, but He has in fact, created a unique and incredible stage play, in which we are the tragic hero, so
The prophets of old had bitter, harsh recriminations to lay on the unrepentant people of Israel. Isaiah is my favorite of all of them, not because his proclamations of doom were less horrible, but because he always included God’s love for His children. At Easter time, the anointed arias of Handel’s Messiah speak so much love and glory to my heart.
May our Father’s comfort flow over us like a river which blesses and keeps us from despair as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. Because He is with us, we shall fear no evil. His rod and staff protect us. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our lives, and we shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. In Christ, we proclaim it, amen.