He Will Never Leave Us – Nor Forsake Us
He Will Never Leave Us Nor Forsake Us
Chapter 1:13-17 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. 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. 15 So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging. 16 Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the LORD, and made vows. 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.
Verses 13-15 These men were not murderers and deemed throwing Jonah over the side as an act of murder. So they tried to return to shore so they could drop Jonah off and be rid of their troublesome cargo. They rowed against wind and tide. God, His purposes and providence, were against them; and it was not possible for them to make land, and get the ship ashore which they were desirous of, to save the life of Jonah, as well as their own. For, seeing him penitent, they had compassion on him. His character and profession as a prophet, the gravity of the man, his openness of mind, and his willingness to die, played greatly upon the men. They would gladly have saved him if they could. And perhaps being heathens, and not knowing thoroughly the nature of his offence, might think he did not deserve to die. But all their endeavours to save him were to no purpose.
Notice “Wherefore they cried unto the LORD” – not unto their gods, but unto the true Jehovah, the God of Jonah, and of the Hebrews. Whom they now, by this providence, and Jonah’s discourse, had some convictions and knowledge of as the true God, therefore they direct their prayers to Him, before they cast the prophet into the sea. They were in the utmost perplexity of mind, not knowing what to do. They saw they must perish by the storm, if they saved his life; and they were afraid they should perish if they took it away. They had no other way left but to pray to the LORD. It appeared to them to be the will of God that he should be cast into the sea; from the storm that was raised on his account. From the lots that were cast, from the confession of Jonah, and his declaration of the will of God in this matter – they had no choice. They hoped no blame would be laid on them.
“The sea ceased” – This was similar to Christ’s quieting the storm on the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 8:23-27). The fact that the sea stopped raging suddenly showed them they had done the right thing by throwing Jonah overboard. They had not thrown him over in anger, but to save all of them from drowning. The suddenness is like the sea ceasing to roar, when Jesus spoke and told the sea to be still. God controls the sea and the wind.
Verses 16-17 – They threw Jonah overboard and “immediately” the sea ceased from her raging. The men are now fearful. They feared the LORD. This was not a natural fear, as before, but a righteous one. And not a servile fear, or a fear of punishment, but a reverential Godly fear. For they feared Him, not only because they saw His power in raising and stilling the tempest, but His goodness to them in saving them. I found it very interesting, that the very first act they perform once the raging sea has ceased is that they offered a sacrifice unto the LORD, and made vows. They offered a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving for a safe deliverance from the storm. For other sorts of sacrifice they seemed not to have materials for; since they had thrown overboard what they had in the ship to lighten it. Rather, it was as a ceremonial sacrifice.
If these men were truly converted, as it seems as if they were, they were great gainers by this providence. For though they lost their worldly goods, they found what was infinitely better, God to be their God and portion, and all spiritual good things with Him. How wise and wonderful is the providence of God? That though Jonah refused to go and preach to the Gentiles at Nineveh, for which he was corrected; yet God made this dispensation a means of converting other Gentiles. This is like many conversions in the churches today. They came to the LORD, because of fear of death. They recognized the supernatural event that had taken place, and they recognized the power of Jonah’s God. They even sacrificed to the LORD to show their sincerity. They made promises to God, as well.
“Prepared” indicates “to appoint, ordain, prepare, or order.” The idea is one of commission rather than of creation. The fish was already in existence, but God commissioned it for a specific mission. The species of fish is not known. God sovereignly prepared a great fish to rescue Jonah. Apparently, Jonah sank into the depth of the sea before the fish swallowed him (Jonah 2:3, 5-6).
“Three days and three nights”.
Matthew 12:40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the fish’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
This fish was not an ordinary fish. God had prepared a special fish, so that Jonah could live in the fish’s belly. This entombment in the belly of the fish is a type and shadow of the three days Jesus would be in the belly of the earth. Notice, God did not save Jonah FROM the fish. He saves him IN the fish. Since Jesus likens His time in the tomb to Jonah’s time in the belly of the fish, and we know Jesus was dead, it may very well be that Jonah died, and God resuscitated him after three days. Or, Jonah may have been alive the whole time but living in a place that was very much like being dead and buried. God is far bigger than our expectations. And He knows all the eventualities of our lives. He knew the day would come when Jonah would be treading water in the Mediterranean Sea. So years before He had caused a fish to be born that would many days later be large enough to swallow Jonah. And God so ordered that fish’s life that it happened to be right there when Jonah was hoisted over the side. God knows the end from the beginning. He knows every day of our lives (Isaiah 46:10).
Dear Reader – you will never come to some point in your life that the grace of God hasn’t already prepared all that you need to endure. He has been working in unseen ways for years to make sure that everywhere you go and everything you do is also attended by everything you need.