Anglican Daily Devotion, 23 August 2021 Anno Domini
A ministry of the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“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; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
“Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. 39But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: 40For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.” (Matt 12:38-41)
There is a surprising parallel in the life of Christ and that of the prophet Jonah. Jonah could, in no way, measure up to that holiness expressed in the life of Christ, yet that is one particular event that unites the two in a shared circumstance. Christ used the example of Jonah as one compared to Himself in His lying in the Tomb for “three days and three nights.” There are, of course, other profound similarities which are worthy of mention. I would challenge the Reader to get out a pen and paper and note some of those obvious parallels as you read the Book of Jonah – if we put our heads together, we may find may more than is immediately obvious.
The name, Jonah, in the Hebrew, means ‘DOVE.” A dove represents ‘sent love’ as in the sending of a dove as a messenger by Noah to bring back the good news of the receding floods upon the earth; and the sending of the Holy Ghost at the baptism of Christ represented by a dove. Jonah is a man, like Christ, sent to a people who knew not God. The entire population of Nineveh were lost in sin. Christ was sent into a world which was lost in sin without His coming. Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. (Jonah 1:1-2) In the normal course of the world, one would not expect such a wicked city to heed the words of a prophet of the Lord, but Nineveh was an exception to the rule, and God knew that He had souls in Nineveh that belonged to Him. God sent the Lord Jesus Christ, His only Begotten Son, into a world of like disposition. But Jonah lacked the humility and obedience of Christ. He balked at the command of God.
There is a warning of woe to clergy included in the account of Jonah: if the Lord commands, it will save everyone a lot of misery and consternation if we simply obey promptly rather than putting the Lord to the trouble of chastising us until we agree to that which we should have done from the very first. Remember that wide road that leads DOWN to destruction? Well, that is the road that our brother, Jonah, chose rather than obey the Lord. 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 1:3) Now these are only the first two examples of Jonah’s going DOWN out of the will of the Lord for, after he went down into the ship, he went down into the hull of the ship: 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. 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. (Jonah 1:4-5) Nor is this the whole extent of Jonah’s going DOWN for he eventually went DOWN into the Sea. He then went DOWN into the belly of the whale, and the whale went DOWN into the depths of the Sea. If we embark upon such a downward path from the will of the Lord, I fear, at the risk of conjuring up images of Dante’s Inferno, we shall find that the Lake of Fire in Hell is truly a bottomless pit whose only company will be Satan and his minions.
Would it not have been simpler for poor Jonah not to resist the command of the Lord? The opening lines of a poem, The Hound of Heaven, written by Francis Thompson, come to mind exemplifying the harsh reality of fleeing the Call. Jonah, like Christ, descended in the very depths of Hell.
See tomorrow’s devotion for more detail.