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Wednesday, January 20 2016

Jonah 1: Jonah's Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea

"The LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights"

The prophet Jonah was chosen by the LORD (see The Identity Of The LORD God and The LORD God Our Saviour) to deliver a warning to Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian Empire. Jonah was a patriotic citizen of the northern Kingdom of Israel at the time that the LORD was about to permit the Assyrians to attack and conquer their corrupt kingdom (see The Politics And Religion Of The Lost Ten Tribes).

Jonah's experience was a lesson, and a choice, that many have had to make throughout human history - stand, and fall, with the corrupt nation that they happened to have been born in, or look beyond to the only true nation that has or will ever exist - the Kingdom of God (see The First And Last Nation). A prime example of that is Babylon-born Abraham who chose to follow the Way of the LORD, rather than the idols and delusions of his dead-end nationalism (see A Biography Of Abraham: From Ur To Canaan).

Jonah, at first, chose his worldly patriotism - he didn't want to see the Assyrians repent. Jonah wanted them to continue on their course toward being destroyed by the LORD, not because Jonah cared about the Assyrians, but because he wanted to see them eliminated as a threat to the corrupt kingdom of Israel - that the LORD was going to use to deliver His wrath upon Israel. It was a natural choice, but the wrong one. Jonah decided to run away from the LORD so that he wouldn't have to go to Assyria and do what the LORD had commanded him to do.


"1:1 Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,

1:2 Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.

1:3 But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD." (Jonah 1:1-3 KJV)

Jonah soon discovered however that there is no escape from the Will of the LORD. Jonah needed more persuasion, so he got it: "The LORD sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken."

Jonah was saved and kept alive in the depths of the sea because "the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah." While many have traditionally interpreted this to mean a whale, mocking critics commonly say that the gastric juices of a whale would have digested Jonah after 3 days, and that even if swallowed by a whale, Jonah would still have drowned. But notice carefully that it was no ordinary "fish" because "the LORD had prepared" it with the specific prophetic purpose (see the Fact Finder question below) of keeping Jonah alive and unharmed in it for three days and three nights.

The two actual Hebrew words that have been translated into "great fish" are (pronounced) gaw-dole, which means strong and long, and dawhg, which means a turning tail. While whales are strong and long, they have tails that wave, not turn i.e. revolve. People continue to debate just exactly what "the great fish" was, but it's important when doing so to look at the meaning of the actual Hebrew words that are recorded in the Holy Scriptures, not merely the words that some of the translators have used to render them into another language.

"1:4 But the LORD sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken. 1:5 Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them.

But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep. 1:6 So the shipmaster came to him, and said unto him, What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not.

1:7 And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah.

1:8 Then said they unto him, Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this evil is upon us; What is thine occupation? and whence comest thou? what is thy country? and of what people art thou?

1:9 And he said unto them, I am an Hebrew; and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land.

1:10 Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him, Why hast thou done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them.

1:11 Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous.

1:12 And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you.

1:13 Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not: for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous against them. 1:14 Wherefore they cried unto the LORD, and said, We beseech thee, O LORD, we beseech thee, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not upon us innocent blood: for thou, O LORD, hast done as it pleased thee. 1:15 So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging. 1:16 Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the LORD, and made vows.

1:17 Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights." (Jonah 1:1-17 KJV)

Fact Finder: How was Jonah moreover a prophet of the coming Messiah and His Sacrifice?
See Jonah: Three Days And Three Nights

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This Day In History, January 20

250: Emperor Decius began persecution of Christians in Rome (genuine Christians and those who were merely using Christ's identity for their religion; see The Church Of God At Rome).

1265: The first English Parliament of the elected knights of the shires and burgesses convened by Simon de Montfort in the original Palace of Westminster i.e. the "Houses of Parliament."

Palace of Westminster

1320: Wladislaw I was crowned king of Poland. He defeated the Knights of the Teutonic Order, and established the Polish nation.

1327: Edward II of England abdicated in favor of his son Edward III.

1356: Edward Balliol abdicated as King of Scotland.

1612: Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II died (see The Holy Roman Empire Of The German Nation). His inability to reconcile Roman Catholics and Protestants led to the Thirty Years War.

1649: King Charles I of England was charged with treason after the civil war against Parliamentarian forces.

1783: Britain signed a peace agreement with France and Spain, who malignantly supported the rebel insurgency against Britain during the rebellion of the New England colonies - while hypocritically permitting no rebellion in their vast colonies throughout North and South America.

1841: Hong Kong was ceded to Britain from China after the Opium War.

1918: In Russia following the Bolshevik Revolution, all church property was confiscated and all religious instruction in the schools was abolished.

1936: King George V died at age 70. He was succeeded by Edward VIII whose abdication (to marry a divorced U.S. woman) made possible the eventual coronation of Elizabeth II after the death of her father, King George VI (the younger brother of Edward VIII who succeeded Edward).

1942: Nazi officials at the Wannsee Conference in Berlin formalized a "final solution" plan for the murder of Europe's Jews (see also Presidential Quotes On War, Terrorism, Religion).

1981: 52 U.S. hostages from the U.S. embassy in Tehran, Iran, were released after 444 days in captivity.

1989: Ronald Reagan broke the "year zero curse" when he became the first U.S. President since 1840, who won a Presidential election in a year ending in a zero, to leave office alive (although not without incident - Mr. Reagan was very seriously wounded in an assassination attempt in March of 1981):
1980: Ronald Reagan
1960: John F. Kennedy, assassinated
1940: Franklin D. Roosevelt, natural causes
1920: Warren Harding, natural causes
1900: William McKinley, assassinated
1880: James Garfield, assassinated
1860: Abraham Lincoln, assassinated
1840: William Harrison, natural causes

2001: Philippine President Joseph Estrada was removed from office after a 4-day revolution.

2009: Barack Obama was inaugurated as the first black President of the U.S.


Copyright © Wayne Blank