Sermons

Summary: So, you've been swallowed by a fish. What next? This message looks at that scenario and offers solutions.

What’s the worst that could happen? It’s a question that we often ask ourselves, or at least it’s a question that I often ask myself, maybe you never ask yourself that question. Maybe I’m just strange.

But what happens when it’s worse than you could have imagined? When you underestimated the worst that could happen. When it’s even worse than the worst-case scenario. When you couldn’t even imagine ending up where you ended up.

Most times though it’s not that we underestimate, usually our Worst-Case Scenario never actually happens.

A while back I discovered this book, Worst-Case Scenarios a Survival Handbook, and I was intrigued so I bought a copy. And it’s got all kinds of helpful advice if I ever need to run along the top of a moving train, how to escape from a sinking car or how to jump from a building into a dumpster.

For example, on page 46 there are instructions for how to fend off a shark.

1. Hit back. If a shark is coming toward you or attacks you, use anything in your possession, camera, probe, harpoon gun, your fist – to hit the sharks’ eyes or gills.

2. Make quick, sharp, repeated jabs in these areas. Sharks are predators and will usually only follow through on an attack if they have the advantage.

And then there are two pages of ways to avoid being attacked by a shark.

I had a friend in Australia whose policy for that was simply. . . never go swimming in the ocean.

The concept of the book led us to our preaching series for the next couple of months, worst case scenarios in the bible. So, in week one my message was “What to do when you have to fight a giant.” And last week was “What to do if you’ve been left behind.” Perhaps I should have preached on: How to drive in a Nova Scotia Winter.

The scenario we are looking at today is probably one of the most well-known stories of the bible, often called Jonah and the Whale, even many non-believers know the term if not the story. However, if when you think of Jonah and the whale this image comes to mind then you are confusing the book of Jonah with the book of Disney and Jonah with Geppetto. Just saying.

And even if people don’t know the story, most people know what it means to be a “Jonah”, even if they don’t know why being a Jonah means you bring bad luck.

Groucho Marx once said, “Oh, are you from Wales? Do you know a fella named Jonah-He used to live in whales for a while?”

The book of Jonah, which you will find in the section of the bible called the Minor Prophets. They aren’t the Minor Prophets because they are less important than the Major Prophets, they are simply less wordy than the major prophets

Very quickly, to bring you up to speed. Jonah, a prophet of Israel is told by God that he is to go to the city of Nineveh and preach a series of revival services. The problem is that the people of Nineveh are enemies of the Jews and Jonah doesn’t think they are worthy of hearing a message of mercy and grace, so he not only refuses to do as he was commanded, but he tries to run from God.

The bible tells us that Jonah heads in the exact opposite direction of Nineveh and boards a ship that is heading to a city called Tarshish, that many scholars tell us is located in modern Spain.

So, Jonah is not just going in the opposite direction of where he was supposed to be going, but he was heading as far away as was imaginable, Tarshish would have been considered the very edge of the known world for Jonah.

And while on his journey, a great storm comes up and threatens to sink the ship. The sailors cast lots to see who is bringing them bad luck and Jonah, draws the short straw, so to speak. He tells the sailors that he is running from God and the only way they can save themselves is to throw him overboard.

Which they do. We are told that the storm stopped at once and Jonah gets eaten by a big fish.

Which brings us to our Worst-Case scenario for this week. What to do when you end up in the belly of a really big fish.

1. Discover Where You Are I’ve never been inside the belly of a really big fish, but I would suspect it is dark. When I was a kid, and it was really dark, my father would say it was darker than the inside of a cow’s belly, and I’m pretty sure that he’d never been inside a cow’s belly.

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