“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.”
The story of Jonah’s life is a troubling story because of the potential this man wasted because of his thoughts towards a city to which God had called him. You know the story well how that God called Jonah to preach to the city of Nineveh, but he refused and bought a ticket on a ship to go the opposite direction of this great city. While on the ship, God prepared a great wind which put the lives of the shipmen in jeopardy. Finally, after much struggle, these men threw Jonah into the sea to what he thought was his death.
The truth I want you to see is found in the verse above when it says, “And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” This is symbolic of death. It wasn’t until Jonah died to his ambitions, hatreds, and desire for sin before he could see a resurrection and new hope for his life. The belly of the fish was his tomb, but his tomb was also the place where he repented and found new life and hope to be used again by God. It was when he repented that God caused the fish to spew him out in the direction that He was supposed to go in the first place. Several reminders are found in this story.
First, you can never run too far to get away from God’s punishing hand. You may think you can get away with sin, but God’s hand can always reach to where you think you are safe. The sinful and rebellious believer is never safe from the punishing hand of God. No matter how far you run, God is already there to try to bring you back to Him.
Second, sin always causes a self-focus and blinds you from the spiritual needs of others around you. Jonah was so blinded by his sin that he couldn’t see the spiritual needs of the shipmen on the ship. Sin always causes you to look at how bad life is for you instead of seeing everyone around you who you could help if you would just get right with the LORD. If you are one who thinks everyone is against you, and if you are one who can only see your problems instead of the needs of those around you; this is an alert from God that your sin has blinded you.
Third, sin kills any potential God has given you. Jonah had so much potential, but sin put out the flame of the potential in his life. Any potential you have will always be snuffed out by sin’s blowing influences in your life. You are wasting your God-given potential when you allow sin to rule in your heart and life.
Fourth, God always gives new life, hope and potential to the believer who repents and comes back to Him. Just like Jonah died to his ambitions, dreams, hatreds and sin in the belly of the fish, so you must die to self and sin if you want to see a resurrection of hope. There is always hope for any person who repents and comes back to God. God has never rejected one person who repented of their sin and came back to Him, and He won’t reject you if you will repent.
The key to this whole story is if you have died to your sin. Let me ask you; have you died yet? Are you still trying to live in your sin? Your sin will never give you hope; instead, it will continue to kill hope and cause you to feel useless to God. Let me encourage you to die to your sin and experience the resurrection of hope, life and potential by coming back to God.