Jonah's Jolt

J. D. Conley
October 23, 2016

The prophet Jonah is an enigma. Without question he was a reluctant pro'phet and a sorry preacher. To this day, his actions are cause for amazement. He deliberately tries to run from God and the mission he'd been given, (1:1-3). When he finally does fulfill his responsibility, he is vexed and displeased with the marvelous results, (4:1-3). But betwixt these chapters Jonah receives a jolt that wakes him up, and causes him to think straight and act rationally. Once he realizes he is housed in the digestive system of a great fish, he begins to pray. In considering the fervent petition He makes to God, (2:1-9), notice the circumstances that brought about his abrupt change of heart.

His Affliction, v.2 - Since he suddenly found himself flailing around in the digestive juices of this huge fish, he knew he was in a life and death predicament. The record makes it clear this was the reason he began to implore God. Why is it so often the case that life has to get dire before people will pray as they should? The New Testament is replete with passages that teach us to "pray always." Sadly, so many always pray and only pray when bad things occur. Yes, prayer needs to be offered up in bad times, but not just in bad times.

His Despair, vv. 3-6 - The realization of his affliction, quickly spiraled into despair. He not only understood his situation, he saw it as hopeless. Not only did he find himself inside the fish's stomach, but the fish had swam to the bottom of the raging sea. Jonah no doubt wanted out of that fish, but not at that particular moment! Despair always adds a genuine element to prayers uttered. Jonah confesses only God could bring him up from the sea floor.

His Determination, vv. 7-9 - Jonah is brought face to face with his mortality. But in addition to that, he grasps that his soul is on the verge of being lost. He was absolutely convinced only God could save him spiritually and physically. His impassioned prayer reached the Lord's holy temple. Genuine prayer traverses great distance, from the lowly sea floor to the Lord's lofty temple! He acknowledged and warned that pagan worship cuts one off from the only source of mercy - God Himself. Jonah knew salvation could only be bestowed upon him by God. This in turn renewed his resolve to worship and obey the Lord.

His Deliverance, v. 10 - The jolt Jonah received turned out to be for his benefit. God heard his prayer and he was expelled from the confines of the fish. How sad that his change of heart was short-lived.

Wake-up calls can be of great aid in causing one to turn back to God, tragically, so many fall fast asleep again. Let us learn and never forget the life changing lessons the jolts of life dish out, (Psalm 119:67-71).