This is the word of the LORD that came to Jonah, son of Amittai:
“Set out for the great city of Nineveh, and preach against it;
their wickedness has come up before me.”
But Jonah made ready to flee to Tarshish away from the LORD.
He went down to Joppa, found a ship going to Tarshish,
paid the fare, and went aboard to journey with them to Tarshish,
away from the LORD.
The LORD, however, hurled a violent wind upon the sea,
and in the furious tempest that arose
the ship was on the point of breaking up.
Then the mariners became frightened and each one cried to his god.
To lighten the ship for themselves, they threw its cargo into the sea.
Meanwhile, Jonah had gone down into the hold of the ship,
and lay there fast asleep.
The captain came to him and said, “What are you doing asleep?
Rise up, call upon your God!
Perhaps God will be mindful of us so that we may not perish.”
Then they said to one another, “Come, let us cast lots
to find out on whose account we have met with this misfortune.”
So they cast lots, and thus singled out Jonah.
“Tell us,” they said, “what is your business?
Where do you come from?
What is your country, and to what people do you belong?”
Jonah answered them, “I am a Hebrew,
I worship the LORD, the God of heaven,
who made the sea and the dry land.”
Now the men were seized with great fear and said to him,
“How could you do such a thing!–
They knew that he was fleeing from the LORD,
because he had told them.–
They asked, “What shall we do with you,
that the sea may quiet down for us?”
For the sea was growing more and more turbulent.
Jonah said to them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea,
that it may quiet down for you;
since I know it is because of me
that this violent storm has come upon you.”
Still the men rowed hard to regain the land, but they could not,
for the sea grew ever more turbulent.
Then they cried to the LORD: “We beseech you, O LORD,
let us not perish for taking this man’s life;
do not charge us with shedding innocent blood,
for you, LORD, have done as you saw fit.”
Then they took Jonah and threw him into the sea,
and the sea’s raging abated.
Struck with great fear of the LORD,
the men offered sacrifice and made vows to him.
But the LORD sent a large fish, that swallowed Jonah;
and Jonah remained in the belly of the fish
three days and three nights.
From the belly of the fish Jonah prayed
to the LORD, his God.
Then the LORD commanded the fish to spew Jonah upon the shore. Jon 1:1-2:1-2,11
This story has always been one of my favorites. Since I was a little child, I have always known of the story of Jonah and the Whale. I always found it wondrous that someone could be in the belly of a fish for three days, but still be spit out on a beach. I thought that it was always an Orca Whale that ate him, I think it made the story better in my mind.
As I have gotten older, the story has taken on a new type of meaning for me. I think everyone can relate to this story, it is a simple one to understand. For me, I am jealous of Jonah, he had this huge sign come to him that he was doing the wrong thing. How nice would that be to have a huge storm pop up when I am running away from what God has called me to do? That would be amazing to have those kind of signs.. the major storm rocking the boat to shake me back to reality and get me back on line.
Even though we sometimes do not have these giant storms that hit our vessels, we do have signs that are guiding us along the way. We have to chose to look for them and take action on them when they come into our lives. They can be people talking to us, in seemingly innocent conversations, to thoughts that come to us from out of nowhere. They are everywhere if we choose to be on the look out for them. When we miss them, we usually kick ourselves in the rear. The signs are there, we just have to be ready to receive the messages.