November 4, 2021
“As my life was fading away, I remembered the Lord. My prayer came to You, to Your holy temple. Those who cling to worthless idols forsake faithful love...”
“‘As my life was fading away, I remembered the Lord. My prayer came to You, to Your holy temple. Those who cling to worthless idols forsake faithful love, but as for me, I will sacrifice to You with a voice of thanksgiving. I will fulfill what I have vowed. Salvation is from the Lord.’ The Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.” Jonah 2:7-10
During a 2008 Republican debate, the candidates were asked whether they believed everything in the Bible was true. As could be imagined, there was some mighty soft stepping around that question!
One of the candidates, Rudy Giuliani, said that he believed some of the Bible was literal and some metaphoric. He said, “For instance, I don’t believe Jonah was actually in the belly of a whale.”
It never ceases to amaze me how people refuse to follow their faith to faithful conclusions. They refuse to do so, perhaps, because they are afraid that faithful assumptions may lead to faithful statements and faithful stands. Faithful stands may lead to our being alienated by others. This is, in effect, idolatry, because we elevate the opinions of faithless men over God’s command to walk faithfully in His Word.
Do I believe Jonah was in the belly of an actual whale? A better question might be: Is it possible for the God of all creation to sustain the life of a man in the belly of a whale for three days and three nights? Yes, it is.
Scientists have proven that it is indeed possible for a person to survive three days & nights in the belly of certain whales, but that’s not the point. The point is whether we believe the Lord can (or would wish to) accomplish such a miracle. If you can prove the feasibility of an event, it ceases to be a miracle. It simply becomes a rare phenomenon. God is in the MIRACLE business! Whenever He wants to seize our attention and command our respect, He does things that cannot be explained, even as phenomenal. The only description we can offer is “miraculous.” For instance, when the children of Israel needed bread in the desert, God provided it. The word they used to describe it was “manna,” which translates, “What is it?” God had performed a miracle, and there was no other thing in the world to compare it to.
I bring this up because Jonah’s need for salvation is not unlike our own. Whether we are in a literal or figurative “belly of a whale,” God hears our cries for help, and He has the inexhaustible means to deliver us when conventional, even phenomenal, delivery options are absent.
Salvation is by God’s grace, through our faith in Jesus, alone. To deny the exclusivity of His salvation is to forsake the miracle of Messiah’s faithful love. To accept it leads to a response of thanksgiving and the bold fulfillment of our vow to Him, to follow whenever and wherever He leads, even into situations from which there is no earthly possibility of deliverance.
If we genuinely believe that Jesus can raise us from the dead and live forever with Him in heaven, then why do we hesitate to carry the gospel into life-threatening venues? And why should we have a problem believing God’s ability to preserve one guy in a whale’s belly?