Summary: Jonah's experience in the fish's belly motivates him to acknowledge and plead for God's mercy which Jonah was willing to deny Nineveh from experiencing.
Question: Why was Jonah in the fish's belly? Almost everyone on the planet knows that!...or think they know!
Well he was there because the fish swallowed him!
The cause of this predicament was Jonah's original response to God's command. He did not like the idea of doing what God wanted, despite the fact that it was his calling. He chose instead to make his own way and ignore God's requirements. The fish did not just happen to be there. It was prepared, purposed and positioned by Yahweh.
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 1:17)
Jonah's calling was to obey Yahweh and faithfully deliver His message. Jonah did not like one possible consequence of faithful delivery of the message.
Warn Nineveh, Israel's enemy. Nineveh repents and Yahweh Who is merciful spares them! Ugh! NO WAY!
Do not warn Nineveh. Nineveh is judged and destroyed!
End of Nineveh and one less enemy of Israel! WAY!!!
So he took matters into his own hands.
He tried to manipulate the result and ended up releasing a storm into his life.
Here is an all too common problem:
When we try to be slick with God and become manipulative we usually end up dragging others (sometimes innocent loved ones) into the storm initiated due to our obstinate desire for things to happen our way.
After Jonah went to Joppa and quickly found a boat that was going to his desired destination of Tarshish he must have felt good about himself, since it was not a common thing to find such a boat so easily and quickly, especially one to such a distant destination as Tarshish.
Hey I must be doing the right thing!
Be warned: Things may be going your way and circumstances may line up just right in your plan, but it does not mean you have God's blessings or are in His will. There's a storm brewing on the horizon and a fish waiting just below!
So now we know why Jonah was in the fish belly!
Now! Why are you in that particular fish belly of yours?
What have you been running away from? The fish's belly will take on different aspects to different saints but the reason for being there will be the same and the way of deliverance will be the same. What manipulations have you been involved in?
When you are in the belly of a fish you are pretty much isolated.
You have that suffocating sensation.
You always have that sinking feeling!
You find yourself in a very sticky situation!
Hey! Who turned out the light? That's right it's pretty dark in a fish's belly!
You can't see you're going! You can't see! Period!
No sense of direction anymore!
When God serves you up as a dish to the fish you have only one wish!
GET ME OUT OF HERE!!!
Jonah 2:1-10 (KJV) Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish's belly, And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice. For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me. Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple. The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head. I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my God. When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple. They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy. But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD. And the LORD spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.
As far as Jonah and the world were concerned he was dead. He refers to his incarceration as hell.
Jonah’s prayer from the fish’s belly is based on the knowledge of God’s mercy and kindness.
In the fish Jonah would be totally disoriented, yet he says that he will look towards the temple of Yahweh! He has no way of knowing which direction to turn or look but he reaches out in spirit to Yahweh’s presence.
He is looking towards the place where mercy and forgiveness is to be found. He is looking towards the place where his transgressions will be covered.