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Reflections From the Belly of Sheol

Updated: May 29, 2022

Jonah, Servant of the word of the Lord

Imagine being in a friendship where the other person only spends time with you or talks to you when something is going terribly wrong in their life. After that season of trials, they simply return to their daily activities until another difficulty comes around.

While you ponder on times that happened to you and maybe when you did that to others, keep in mind, that's how we approach God as well.

We spend more time with God in our distress than we do in joy.

We reach out to Him, hold on to the promises He gave us in moments of trials just like Jonah but our God is so loving that even in our distress, He orchestrates moments for us to pause and reach out to Him.

Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. God hurled him into the depth, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled around Jonah. All God's waves and breakers swept over him. The engulfing waters threatened him; the deep surrounded him, seaweed was wrapped around his head. To the roots of the mountains he sank down; the earth beneath barred him in forever. The Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah.

(Jonah 1:16, 2:3, 2:5-6; NIV, Zondervan 2020)

The God who Made the Sea and the Dry Land

Reflecting back on the earliest part of the story, my attention focuses on the sailors. Imagine being a sailor, or fisherman and thinking this night on sea was going to be like any normal day. Now, here you are, in the middle of a storm that your gods were too weak to do anything about so you had to try and rely on the things you knew that would prevent the boat from sinking. But that doesn't work either. They must've thrown so much cargo into the sea to lighten the ship. It's interesting how the worldly worries fade when your life is at stake.

The cargo must've been a week's worth of groceries for their family, a paycheck to pay an overdue bill or whatever it may have been, none of it mattered because they were trying to survive. Their desperation for survival led them to lean on Jonah's God, who they found out was much more powerful than the idols they worshipped.

In their distress, they cried out to the Lord, the God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land:

"Please, Lord, do not let us die for taking this man's life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, Lord, have done as you pleased" (Jonah 1:14)

In Jonah's distress, he sought the Lord and the Lord answered:

Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the fish’s belly. 
And he said:
“I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction, 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 floods surrounded me; All Your billows and Your waves passed over me. 
Then I said, ‘I have been cast out of Your sight; Yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.’ 
The waters surrounded me, even to my soul; The deep closed around me; Weeds were wrapped around my head. 
I went down to the moorings of the mountains; The earth with its bars closed behind me forever; Yet You have brought up my life from the pit, O Lord, my God.
“When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord; And my prayer went up to You, Into Your holy temple.
“Those who regard worthless idols Forsake their own Mercy. But I will sacrifice to You With the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord.”
So the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.

Jonah 1:14, Jonah 1:16, 2:3, 2:5-6; NIV, Holy Bible, Bible Gateway, Biblica, Inc NKJV

Jonah went from running from God to being hidden by God for three days and three nights. The fish was provided by God not to harm Jonah but to bring him to a moment where he remembers his character.

​"In my distress, I call to the Lord and He answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help and you answered me. I said I have been banished from your sight, yet I will again toward your holy temple. You Lord, my God brought my life up from the pit. When my life was ebbing away, I remember you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God's love for them. But I, with shouts of grateful praise will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, 'Salvation comes from the Lord"

And the Lord, the God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land, the merciful God, commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.

 NIV scriptures from Holy Bible, Zondervan 2020

The Found Sheep


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