Jonah 2.7-10 When my soul fainted within me I remembered the Lord: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple. They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy. But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord. And the Lord spoke unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.
There is probably no servant of God in Scripture who is as well known, or more blatantly disobedient to Him than Jonah. God called him to preach to the wicked, ruthless Ninevites. What does Jonah do? He gets on a boat and heads into the opposite direction. That is rebellion, which the bible identifies as witchcraft. His disobedience affected others. Eventually, Jonah was tossed overboard, and immediately, the stormy seas were calm. Once in the water, God sends a great fish to deal with Jonah. In the fishes belly, Jonah is swimming in filth and stench. Sin stinks. There in the fish, God is dealing with his disobedient prophet outside of the public eye.
When Jonah had come to the end of his wrestling with God in the fish’s belly, the Bible says that he got to the point where he fainted and remember God. The Hebrew Word for fainted is a verb that means to be feeble, to be faint, to be weak. Strongs tells us that this word refers to animals of a flock that are born unhealthy, feeble, in a weakened state. It is used of persons becoming weary, worn out in spirit from God’s dealings with them or from other causes so that they call on God. Again, Jonah was in this condition because he ran from the call of God on his life.
I find this comforting. What warms my heart about the story of Jonah is not his sin (God forbid), but God’s grace and recommissioning him to do what He had called him to do. Bear in mind that God knew that even after Jonah goes to Nineveh, his heart attitude towards both God and the Ninevites about the whole situation would be questionable at best. God did not “unprophet” Jonah because of this public display of disobedience. Everybody on that boat to Tarshish knew that the cause of that storm that put their lives in peril was “thus man of God”, Jonah. Beloved, when you fail in the plans and purposes of God for your life, own it. Submit to the “great fish” that God uses until you get to the place where you remember Him. Remember Jesus on the cross suffering for your all of your sin in order that you might be forgiven and live in fellowship with The Father.
As a servant of God, there are going to be countless times when you are going sin against God in your thought life, in your attitude or in the desires of your heart. All of life is repentance. When you do (not if), remember Calvary. After Jonah remembered The Lord, He was launched back into the service of God. He stood there on the shore of Nineveh mixed with whales vomit. A sorry sight for sure. There he is, fresh out of the whale’s belly, and what is his message? Repent! Who better to preach about repentance than Jonah, who had just been taught by God about the folly of rebelling against God. The result of Jonah’s preaching? The whole city turns to God, including animals.
God uses imperfect people. That is all He has to work with. The question is not if we sin or do we sin. The question is, will we own it and turn from it? Beloved, a righteous man or woman will fall seven times. But, when they own their sin, and remember Calvary, they “get off the mat” of guilt and condemnation and by the grace and mercy of God, get back to the call or plan of God for their life. Jonah coming out of the whales belly is a type of Jesus rising from the dead. But the often overlooked practical message of Jonah is not about his time in the belly of the fish for his sin; but about the fact that God in His grace delivered him out of it. The Risen Jesus continues to raise His fallen servants out of the depths of our sin today. Both writer and reader alike should be thankful for His amazing grace. The Psalmist said, if You oh Lord would mark iniquities, Who would stand? We all know the answer. The cure for sin and failure in life is not found in remembering your sin and failure, but in remembering Calvary. Selah