“Now Jehovah had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.”
The passage of time is often perceived as a series of events that coincide with each other to create a cohesive reality. These events are perceived as isolated incidents that are limited to the circumstances of the situation. We cannot see the, so called , “big picture” and fail to recognize the dependency of the event that we are involved in with all the events of creation. So to limit the passage to the great fish and Jonah’s incarceration in it’s belly would be an injustice to the magnitude of the sovereignty of God who has absolutely ordained every aspect of whatsoever comes to pass.
The Word of Jehovah had come to one whom He had afore ordained to be His prophet. He did not seek a resume, have auditions or ask for references for before Jonah was formed in his mother’s womb, he had been separated unto Jehovah God as His prophet. Was this not the case with Jeremiah (Jer. 1:5) and Saul of Tarsus (Gal.1:15)? Since in the mouth of these (and many other) witnesses we have a testimony to the sanctification of the children of grace for the station where God has decreed they should walk, we may with surety conclude that all His people have been afore prepared. This coupled together with His immutability demands that He has, before the foundations of the world were laid, ordained, consecrated and sanctified His people to the station of life He has decreed and has properly outfitted them to perform that which His heart has desired. Jonah was ordained to be the prophet of Jehovah to the people of Ninevah and so it came to pass.
This ordination of Jonah was not by the will of man and his preparation was not at the feet of any earthly teacher. He was raised up this one time when and only after, God had prepared him for this event in his life. All other events that transpired Jonah’s life were part and parcel to the theatrics and drama of Jonah’s ride to Nineveh. So when the Word of Jehovah came to him, without this proper and adequate preparation, Jonah would not have been able to respond in the manner that he did. He knew that this was the Word of Jehovah, he understood the direction and commission he was given and he was made willing to do that which he did. He could have stayed at home, he could have feigned an illness or claimed a financial hardship but instead, Jehovah put it in his heart to go east to Joppa to find a ship of Tarshish because, “Jehovah had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah.”
The trip from where ever Jonah the son of Amittai lived to Nineveh was due east. Nineveh is situated at the base of a mountain range many miles from a sea port on the Tigris river. There was no mistake on the part of Jonah as to the intention of his heart. He was headed due west on a ship that was known for long voyages to distant lands. He was traveling with expert mariners who knew the times of the days and seasons in which to take these long journeys so as to minimize the potential of harm or loss. They prided themselves in navigational skills and were made wealthy for their expertise. This ship had been built to handle the converging currents of the Mediterranean Sea and to carry sufficient supplies to eliminate frequent stops at local ports. This ship with the appropriate crew was prepared of Jehovah to take Jonah to the rendezvous point where the great fish, prepared of Jehovah, was to escort him to Nineveh.
Now a great wind arose in the Sea which caught these professional mariners off guard. It was a mighty tempest that should not have been, similar to the Euroclydon’ that arose when Paul was sailing to Rome (Acts 27:14). No man could have predicted this storm and no devises of man could withstand it. The courage of the most valiant of sailors was stripped away as this phenomenon’ arose and overtook the ship. The men were afraid but immediately resorted to their training and experiences but to no avail. They cast off valuable cargo, wherewith they had their lively hood, in attempt to lighten the load. They resorted to the superstitions of their hearts which they had been given to believe to be true. Herein they found, in the midst of this tumultuous event, Jonah asleep in the hold of the ship. How could he sleep at a time like this and be so ignorant of the pending emergency? While Jehovah had put fear and superstition in the hearts of these professionals who trusted in the arm of the flesh, He gave His, seemingly disobedient servant, peace and repose.
The ship master, curiously finding Jonah asleep, woke him and instructed him to call upon his God in order to avert the almost certain disaster. When this did not work the men, following the dictates of the logic of Adam like the friends of Job, concluded that someone was to blame for this evil, so they cast lots. Jehovah had prepared these ignorant heathens with the idea that evil was the result of the anger of the gods and when the lot fell on Jonah they inquired of him as to who he was, where he was from and what his profession was. Now Jonah could have lied but the preparation of the heart and the answer of the tongue is of the Lord, so, Jonah told them who he was (an Hebrew) the God whom he trusted in (the God who made the sea and the wind) and that he was attempting to escape from the presence of Jehovah. To this God gave no peace in the hearts of the mariners but rather exceeding fear and even though Jonah told them that this could all be averted if they just tossed him overboard, the men, like the one facing backward and fighting against the plow, rowed harder to bring the boat about.
Now when all else had failed and the situation appeared hopeless the great wind and tempestuous sea had brought Jonah to the place where the great fish, prepared of Jehovah, was waiting for him. The power of man, the will of man and the wisdom of man could not have navigated this ship to this place. The men, praying for forgiveness from this heinous crime of killing an innocent man, raised Jonah up and cast him into the sea. He did not cast himself into the sea for that was not the way prescribed of God. And so at the appointed place, in the fullness of time and when all circumstances were exactly in the right order, the fish that God had prepared came was introduced to the servant of God. At that point the angry wave ceased and the wind was stayed because they had come to the end of their limitations and the heathen men cried out, “O Jehovah, thou hast done as it pleased thee”. The disobedience of Jonah was for the testimony to the wicked men that Jehovah rules and is sovereign over all. Yes Jonah’s sin was a testimony to the power and majesty of He who works all things after the counsel of His will. This disobedience was needful to prepare Jonah to preach at Nineveh and the effect of this inability of Jonah was praise unto Almighty God.
The great fish swallowed Jonah and he remained in total darkness and uncertainty for three days and three nights. He had neither food nor hope of survival yet this was the place where the schoolmaster had brought the student to learn the lesson. Jonah learned the lesson by experience and no writings, nor lectures or nor positive thinking could have taught so true a lesson; salvation is of Jehovah. When the lesson was given and the pupil was ready for the final examination, God caused the great fish to vomit Jonah onto dry land. This could not have been on the surf at the sea shore for the great fish would have beached himself far off the coast. The place afore prepared of Jehovah was where this behemoth could be in deep water and still place Jonah on dry land as he began the next leg of his journey to Nineveh.
Jehovah has ordered every aspect of the lives of His people as well as those of the wicked of this world with exact precision. He has not only ordered the end of the journey but has orchestrated each note of this magnificent masterpiece in such a way that the song is of praise to His name. Brethren each moment of our lives is prepared of Jehovah for His good pleasure that the intents of His heart shall be accomplished. He has interwoven the events of our lives, according to the counsel of His immutably perfect will, for the good of His Beloved. He has ordered that even the sin of the weakness of the flesh be praise unto His name and He has done all this by the power of His own will. Some may not like the term absolute predestination’ because they say it is not a Biblical term. Well said. But if we have been given to believe in the Almighty Sovereign God then there is no need for any unbiblical terms for His sovereign rule encompasses everything. If He is the first cause of every cause then there can be no cause that comes to pass without His cause and if He sits in heaven and rules over the kingdoms of this world then there can be nothing that comes to pass which is contrary to His will. He put it in the heart of Jonah to attempt to flee, He put it in the hearts of the mariners to think themselves masters of the sea and He put it in their hearts to fulfill His will and deliver His servant to the great fish He had prepared for him.
Herein is the patience of the saints and the hope of the people Israel, “Behold I go to prepared a place for you”.
Your servant in Christ,
(Elder) Chet Dirkes
October 28, 2012