Summary: Response to the challenge of God’s call from an unrepentant prophet, Jonah.
Jonah 2 “Fish and Spit: The Challenge in Jonah .”
Can you imagine what it is like to be inside a fish like Jonah? He said in v.5 “seaweed was wrapped around my head” This is like sushi in reverse. All rolled up in seaweed, but thankfully not dipped in wasabi and soy sauce? Hey maybe that’s a thought? Why should he be in distress? It’s like all the raw fish you can eat, sashimi galore, eat your way out of the fish. Fresh seaweed too. I think I have just alienated all you sushi lovers.
However, can you imagine being squeezed through the throat and then swimming around the stomach lining of the fish, as it expands and contracts ,the irritation caused by the acidic stomach juices as it bleaches your skin? Probably not thinking about eating then. How can I get this stinging sensation off? And , what’s that awful smell, u think it smells bad in a fish market, wait till u go a fish’s tummy, and then swoosh comes the other stuff that the fish would normally eat? I wonder what goes in? All kind of uncooked raw seafood, shrimp, squid, other fish, suddenly you swear off sushi forever, if u can get out of there. when I am done explaining this, seafood will be good for seeing not eating. Moreover, Can u imagine how dark the place must be? NO flashlight, all u hear is rumbling of live fish stomach? Oi, it must be downright deafening when the fish is passing gas or feeling hungry? But that is not half as awful feeling of sinking like the Titanic, life was ebbing away, darkness, lungs filling with water. According to Jonah it was the moments in the water before seeing a humongous mouth swooped him up that was the most frightening he couldn’t get over that emotionally charged, anxiety-filled moment. Perhaps in the nick of time as the fish swallowed him, passing through the small opening of throat, something like CPR was performed on Jonah, and he came back alive.
For Jonah, the moment of death and dread was over, he knew when he was in the fish, he was saved from drowning as he declares at the end of his psalm “Salvation comes from the Lord.” Yes, it is a psalm. The way it was composed, it sure looked a lot like the Psalms, poetic and all. Compare Ps. 18:4-6 with Jonah 2:2,7.
4 The pangs of death surrounded me,
And the floods of ungodliness made me afraid.
5 The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me;
The snares of death confronted me.
6 In my distress I called upon the LORD,
And cried out to my God;
He heard my voice from His temple,
And my cry came before Him, even to His ears. (NKJV) Ps.18:4-6
“I cried out to the LORD because of my affliction,
And He answered me.
“Out of the belly of Sheol I cried,
And You heard my voice…
7 “When my soul fainted within me,
I remembered the LORD;
And my prayer went up to You,
Into Your holy temple. (NKJV) Jonah 2:2,7
So this tells me Jonah knows a thing or two about the Psalms, somehow familiar with it. But that is where the similarity ends. It is crucial to note that the psalms are God-centred whereas Jonah’s is focussed on him.
Did he think about the mission God has sent him on? Not a mention, strange? Not a mention of God’s character, he waits till chapter 4:2 to mention it? When he did, he was in a sissy fit. Question is, Why does he not do this if he is praising God? What did he do instead? He zoomed in how horrible it was for him, no sense of repentance, no sense of sorry, I blew it it, forgive me for not obeying, or I will now go to Nineveh and do what you say, and give thanks to you for a second chance but he blames God for the mess he is in v.3-6a. He is basically saying guess who got me in this yucky mess? He sure spilled a lot of ink on it.
1. Unrepentant Prophet
This psalm is rebellious in its attitude.
Cut him slack? I guess he was in no mood to really praise God. Yes, Jonah is thankful he is alive. But that is all. It is like phew! I am the ultimate survivor. Self-centred focus. So that is where Jonah is at. He never changed his mind about Nineveh. when he prayed to the Lord from inside the fish. 1:17 we know he was in there 3 days and 3 nights. We know he got there because he was running away from the LORD, in direct opposite direction. So he is thrown into the sea, thinking to himself this is the way it is gonna end. And even when he was in the fish he was still sighting his sights on another place, he was not going to Nineveh but going to the Temple in Jerusalem (v.9). Verse 9 sounds all good and religious, very spiritual but when u look into his motivations, he was still disobedient. Indeed he was not about to go to Nineveh, still trying to con his out of it. I am gonna make good on my promise, sacrifice, sing in church, say "salvation is from the Lord" and all of those nice orthodox faith type of words. However, look at v.8 - demonstrates he never changed his mind about Ninevites… to him they have already forfeited the grace that could be theirs. He is not about to go to them and give them a shot at God’s grace and forgiveness. He sees himself worthy of being saved as an Israelite but those pagans, BUT God is saying: who will love the pagans? Those are guys that need grace. But Jonah is already determined to send them packing to hell which is what they deserved after all the horrible things they did (see Nahum for list of atrocities, includes genocide). His religious bigotry is seen for what it is.