One of the beautiful things about scripture is being able to see what is really going on. Scripture is a beautiful book, with so much to teach us. But for us to truly find what God wants to say to us through it, we have to look, we have to listen, we have to see what is truly happening within it. I think the book of Jonah is such a place where can, at first glance, miss what we should see. Listen to what we read in today’s reading in Jonah 1:17-2:4:
17But the LORD provided a large fish to swallow up Jonah; and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the belly of the fish, 2saying, “I called to the LORD out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice. 3You 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.
What is the point of this text? The fish? Or is it a whale? That’s the thing that draws our eye. That’s the thing that we first want to talk about or think about. And while it is cool to think about it, that is not really the point. What is the point?
We see it at the very beginning at verse 17 – the LORD provided a large fish. The point is not the fish. The point is the LORD. This part of Jonah story should not focus on the means that God uses to accomplish His purpose. It should focus on the God that accomplishes what He wills.
We struggle missing the point – how could a fish do this? What is harder to accomplish, what we see her, or raising someone from the dead? The Jewish people were not big fans of water and the sea. We see within this passage that even the sea, even what they fear, even what the are afraid of God controls that.
Throughout scripture, we see “the sea” as a something that can be scary. Think of Paul’s shipwreck in Acts. Think of how in Revelation there are “no seas” in eternity (that was one of their fears that would be cast aside). Think of how the disciples had so many things happen to them on the Sea of Gallillee that terrified them.
In this moment the LORD provided for Jonah something to save him that he would have been afraid of, in a place he would have been afraid of.
The point of Jonah is not the fish. The point of this story is that God is commands even that fish. That God is greater than even the things that we are afraid of.
Today, do not fear. God will provide a fish if that is what you need in this moment.