March 2, 2022
“And the Lord spoke to the fish and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land.” Yes, that is Jonah 2:10 and it says exactly that in the Bible. I always get surprised about seeing some of the very honest verses in the Bible. I make a joke but really this is a wonderful story about understanding what it means to follow the will of the Lord. I make a joke but really this is aI make a joke but really this is a wonderful story. Are you walking away from the presence of the Lord? A Story About Purpose, a Big Fish, and Accepting God’s Will.
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Trust the Lord
I think more than anything else, the Bible is a magnificent story with the intent of just telling us to trust the Lord.
It’s so simple, almost too simple, but so beautiful.
All we have to do is trust him. But just because it’s simple does not mean that it’s easy.
A Purpose-filled, Short Account
I sat down this morning to have a little time with God. I haven’t been as good about carving out time to just read His word without a study or direction, but just have that time to read.
It’s been a long time since I read the story of Jonah and so I randomly opened up the Bible and that’s what it landed on.
It is fairly surprising how some of these very famous stories are actually not very long. Noah hardly fills up a page. They get a bit glamorized. Maybe it was Pinocchio that kind of threw this off, but in my mind, Jonah is camped out in the belly of a whale. No doubt this image was influenced by Geppetto and Pinocchio hanging out on their boat in Big Blue.
But the story of Jonah is actually very different. Today we are going to do a quick look-through of this biblical story. Why should we care about a guy who got swallowed by a fish? Why would we put that in the Bible and say that it is just as important as one of Paul’s letters in the New Testament? What is God trying to tell us from the story?
What God Put’s on our Hearts
Before I jump into the story, I wanted to just tell you guys thank you so much for listening to this little podcast. The story really reminded me of how this podcast came about. You see, I never intended on starting any sort of a podcast or ministry or anything talking to ex Mormons. In fact, I had kind of made it my mission to stay clear as possible from anything having to do with the church that I have left. But God sometimes asks us to do crazy things and so when he put this on my heart it really did for me feel like it came out of nowhere. But it came out of nowhere- it came from God. He had been planning things from the very beginning of my life. All of this has been for His purpose for me and for all of us – to know God and to make Him known. And he appoints things, situations, and people along the way to carry out his will in bringing His name to the world. And as much as we’d like to question all of that, in the end, His will be done.
I say all of this because the story of Jonah really hit home on all of this.
I’m just going to pull out a few verses and let you guys think on it, but I’d love to invite you over to just do a quick read in your Bible. In my little pocket ESV version, (that I carry with me everywhere that is heavily highlighted and written in and all sorts of marked up), is the simple account of Jonah, barely filling up two pages. It is packed full of wisdom but would only take you probably about 15-20 minutes to read. So go read it!
Jonah’s Story- Are YOU Walking Away from the Presence of the Lord?
The chapter begins by saying,
“Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord…”Jonah 1:1-3
God asks Jonah to go do something and he basically straight up says, “no, I don’t think so.”
He moves away from what God is asking him to do. In fact, he was so far away that he goes and gets on a ship in the complete opposite direction.
“But then God hurled a great wind upon the Sea.” They were in the middle of a storm and it was no accident. Through a series of events, Jonah has to admit that he is Hebrew and he says,
“I fear the Lord the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.”Jonah 1:9
This really freaked out all of the guys on the boat. They called out to God and then hurled Jonah overboard.
I like this next first because it shows that there are very few accidents when it comes to our direction in life.
And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights.Jonah 1:17
There’s a lot with this verse. Number one, He appointed a great fish… God made this happen. And then foreshadowing for Christ- Jonah stayed in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights. Do you know anybody else who did that? Die for three days and three nights to rise again? In fact, Jesus references that when he talks about the Pharisees’ unbelief. He said, “The only sign that I will give you will be the sign of Jonah.” Pretty cool.
And then Jonah prays…
Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish, saying,
“I called out to the Lord, out of my distress,
and he answered me;
out of the belly of Sheol I cried,
and you heard my voice.
For you cast me into the deep,
into the heart of the seas,
and the flood surrounded me;
all your waves and your billows
passed over me.
Then I said, ‘I am driven away
from your sight;
yet I shall again look
upon your holy temple.’
The waters closed in over me to take my life;
the deep surrounded me;
weeds were wrapped about my head
at the roots of the mountains.
I went down to the land
whose bars closed upon me forever;
yet you brought up my life from the pit,
O Lord my God.
When my life was fainting away,
I remembered the Lord,
and my prayer came to you,
into your holy temple.
Those who pay regard to vain idols
forsake their hope of steadfast love.
But I with the voice of thanksgiving
will sacrifice to you;
what I have vowed I will pay.
Salvation belongs to the Lord!”
And the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land.
And I suppose just like this podcast when God first told me that I needed to do this sometimes we need a little nudge. In Jonah’s case, he had to get swallowed by a fish and vomited up. We hope that we don’t all need that kind of nudge, but in the next passage God then again tells Jonah a second time to arise and go to Nineveh. Needless to say, he listens this time.
Speaking for God, Jonah called out in Ninevah-
Jonah, speaking for God, moved the people of Nineveh so much that they repented and they changed. It deeply affected them. They were moved in a way that would never have happened if Jonah had not made it there. And because of this…
“When God saw what they did, how they had turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster He had said He would do to them, and He did not do it.”Jonah 3:10
He saved them when they believed and repented.
One thing that we don’t talk about very often is the fact that Jonah was kind of an angry dude. He wasn’t real positive about all of this. He actually was not happy that he had gone through what he had and in the end, God saved them anyway. God ended up relenting on the disaster that he said he would do to them. He prayed to the Lord…
“And he prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” And the Lord said, “Do you do well to be angry?”Jonah 4:2-4
Then, the story takes a bit of a departure, and Jonah, in his anger and frustration, goes and sits down under a plant that God had appointed to give him shade. The plant dies and Jonah is again seriously angry about this. And God has this in response…
Are YOU Accepting God’s Will?
So what is the story trying to tell us?
How does this short but intriguing story speak to you?
At the end of the reading, this is what I felt:
When we don’t like what we are being called to we can be quick to walk the other direction from the direction that God asks of us. Just because we don’t like the idea of something, does not mean it isn’t God‘s appointed creation and will.
It is not our job to judge for ourselves God’s will.
Jonah was angry about a plant that he had no hand in creating, yet he is mad that God takes pity on his people, the people of Nineveh, his creation. You see, God is constantly trying to work things out for our salvation, for our good, for us to know him.
That may mean that it takes an angry guy who has to get swallowed by a fish to get through to us. And it may make no sense to that guy who was swallowed by a fish, but God loves all his people because he created us.
I believe in the story, God is saying as our creator we are unable to understand how much he does love us and the lengths that He will go to. It is not for us to question His will. It is a beautiful story that he knows every piece of. Our lives and the lives of everyone around us God touches every day. He appoints his creation to work within our story.
Even if that story includes a giant fish.
Here is a link to the story of Jonah from the Bible Project. Enjoy!
In the resource library, you will find a link to a ministry that offers courses to help you speak to those still in the church. Truth in Love Ministry Courses are going to feel a bit like review for some of you, but they will remind you how you once felt in the church and how to help those still there. Check it out in the link below.
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I also want you to have all the best videos, articles, podcasts, communities- all sorts of cool things to help with moving forward.
The biggest thing- I want you to trust the bible and I know as an ex-Mormon this could be a struggle, so please head over and watch some of these cool videos on just how amazingly awesome and trustworthy the Bible really is.
I will continue to add to the library with things I find that will help you. Videos, articles, all the cool stuff to help you learn to pray, find truth and gain trust in the Lord.
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