Daily Thoughts : February 20th
Jonah 2:8 Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.
This is a funny verse, at least in respect of where it comes from. It is part of Jonah's prayer when he thinks he is dying inside a big fish. He's been thrown overboard in a bad storm and swallowed by some large (unnamed) fish. Inside this fish it is likely to be hell. It is pitch black, stinks horribly, is very wet, and acidic. The only good thing about it is that he is still alive – just!
Inside this fish he prays. He sees himself in the depths of Sheol (v.2) which is the Hebrew equivalent to hell or the place of the dead (where there seems to be no mention of God). He thought he had been drowning (v.5) yet he had a sense that God would save him (v.4) and indeed somehow the Lord has preserved his life to this point. As he felt himself dying he cried out to the Lord (v.7) and now he has this sense that salvation will be his (v.9)
It is in the midst of this that he realises that if he had simply been an idol worshipper he would probably be dead, for God's grace would not have reached out to him. As it was he had cried to the Lord and the Lord's provision came along in the form of this fish and kept him alive – even though the limited air inside it was probably fetid. But he was alive and, for that, he is grateful (as horrible as it was) and he realised it was because he had a relationship with the Lord and the Lord has preserved him.
If he had trusted in idols he would have been dead. Do we risk trusting in anything other than the Lord? It is such a simple question but idols are anything we put our trust in (other than God) and they may be our home, our job, our financial status, our family, our qualification or titles. In themselves they are all good things but if they become substitutes for God, we have blown it! Could any of these things have helped Jonah in his plight? No! It was only the powerful working of God that saved him. This is one of the most significant life lessons that we can learn.
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