The Jonah Commission – Day Twenty
Day 20. HE DIED SO THEY COULD LIVE
Read Jonah 1:10-17. The fact is, God has sentenced us all to die. The statistics are plain: 1-in-1 people die! In times of spiritual decline few are urgent in seeking for salvation. So the Church must get serious about Mission. We must die first – to our fears, reputation, self-reliance, self-will, self-promotion in the ‘celebrity worship’ culture and the ‘can do’ mentality of the Western Church. Our hope doesn’t lie in gimmicks or smoke machines. It lies in the Gospel and God’s resolve to save both us and our Nineveh – London. Until we see that, we’ll only major on minors.
There have been doubts about what happened to Jonah after he was the thrown overboard. I’m convinced that he died, not metaphorically, but literally. Jonah is a ‘type’ of Christ. He grew up like Jesus in a small town near Nazareth. He was a local star preacher-boy, who made good (2 Kgs.14:25). But it was at this moment in his ministry that he died an atoning death to save his killers. The sailors sacrificed an innocent man to save doomed sinners and avert God’s wrath, as others would later do with Jesus Christ (Jn.11:50f). It worked (v.14-15)! He drowned, and was swallowed in the fish’s mouth and belly, like Jesus was swallowed up in death and a grave. On the third day both men rose again from the dead. Our Lord said so (Mt.12:40)! By these parallel events, both the the ship’s crew and we were saved, came to know and fear Yahweh as a result (v.16). The deaths of Jonah and Jesus saved many, many lives.
Jonah died. He sank to the bottom of the ‘Med’, in the grip of sea-weed. Drowning is quick for humans. His life ‘ebbed away’ in what Jonah calls his ‘grave’ or ‘Sheol’, the abode of the dead, ‘banished form God’s sight’ (v.2,4). It was in his disembodied spirit that he prayed to God. God then sent the Great Fish, not to save him from death, but to save him from decay like Jesus’ was raised also. Jonah was not to be ‘food for fishes’, anymore than Christ would be ‘food for worms’! Both truly died. Both were resurrected, and came alive again! The huge fish picked up Jonah’s body quickly from the sea-bed, and spewed him up alive again three days later. This is no more a legend than the Empty Tomb of Jesus is. God can raise the dead!
Meditate on your own future death, and thank God you’ll come safely through it, to experience a glorious resurrection at Christ’s second coming!