Jonah; July 31, 2021

Jonah 2:8 “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.”

Just recently there was a news item from the US that greatly illuminated the story of Jonah. A swimmer was indeed taken into the mouth of a baleen whale and, when the whale realized what it had done, spit out, essentially none the worse for wear. That should put the stop to the people who have claimed that the whole story of Jonah was preposterous! The news item was interesting to me because I had always assumed it had to have been a toothed whale, and the sperm whale is the only one big enough to fit the bill. However, there are any number of baleen whales that are physically large enough, and the blue whale, being largest, would have the best probability for survival. That said, the whole point of the incident was to teach Jonah not to run from God. The way this chapter is written it seems to claim this is the content of Jonah’s prayer from inside the “fish,” but it reads much more like something he wrote after he got out. I don’t doubt that verse one is entirely accurate. I’d bet Jonah prayed a LOT while he was in there! Whenever it was composed, this particular line really strikes me. I’ve written numerous times about how we make idols of any of a number of things, but committing ourselves to anything other than our Creator is indeed worthless. This one verse expresses the sad reality we see taking place all the time: people rejecting the grace God has prepared for them by choosing something else instead. We’re back to the fundamental reality that all of God’s rules and instructions to us are for our good, and not to hem us in or deprive us of anything good. Fail to follow His instructions and you miss out, period. Ultimately, failing to believe in and follow Jesus Christ sets us up for eternal destruction. (John 3:16-18)

I have always believed the Bible was true, but it was still very interesting to encounter that recent news story. I’ve never gone through anything that externally dramatic, but the internal shock when God tapped me on the shoulder and showed me a mirror to see the blackness of my soul, way back in 1972, was certainly life-changing. That said, I’ve still been distracted by various worthless things over the years. Jonah himself apparently had trouble remembering the depth of God’s grace toward him, if you read the rest of the book. I need to do better than Jonah, remembering God’s grace and focusing on Him to receive all that He has for me, and at the same time allowing that grace to flow through me to those around me, building them up and pointing them toward Him.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the privilege I will have this morning of performing the wedding of two former students. Thank You that they chose the wedding chapel where I work so that they could have me officiate. I pray that I would be an open channel of Your grace toward them, their families, and their guests, drawing them all to repentance and faith, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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