Lessons From the Belly of a Whale – Part I

by | May 3, 2010 | Fiction Book Reviews | 3 comments

 We all know the story.

Man of God

Asked to do something he doesn’t want to do

Runs in the opposite direction

Storm threatens to sink his ship

He jumps overboard

Is swallowed by a great fish

The fish spits him out

Prophet does what God asks him to do

And then gets mad at the results

 Perfect story, right?

Wait….the ending could use a little work.

I’m a HEA kind of girl, but we don’t get that type of ending with Jonah’s story – except the happy ending of the Ninevites.

 But the story isn’t really about the Ninevites

In fact, the story isn’t completely about Jonah either.

 The true HERO of this story is… GOD.

 So, let’s start from the beginning.

Jonah was a prophet, so getting a message from God wasn’t all that shocking to him. But the message God sent to Him on this particular occasion was. Go tell the Ninevites in forty days they’ll be destroyed.

 Now Jonah disobeyed God. Actually tried to run away from the presence of God. We could say, he ‘rebelled’.


Because Jonah knew God.

An interesting side note here:

Most people see the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament as having two separate personalities. The OT God being a harsh Judge quick to pour out his wrath on the people of the Earth. Then they view the NT God as a God of mercy and grace, ready to forgive and offer a second chance.

 Jonah only knew the OT God – and you know what – that’s why he RAN AWAY. Jonah says in 4:1-2

“God! I knew it—when I was back home, I knew this was going to happen! That’s why I ran off to Tarshish! I knew you were sheer grace and mercy, not easily angered, rich in love, and ready at the drop of a hat to turn your plans of punishment into a program of forgiveness!”

 Jonah didn’t think the Ninevites deserved forgiveness because of their rebellion, so he…er…rebelled.

 What does God do with His rebellious kids?

He goes after them…and uses whatever it takes to bring them to obedience. (even a great fish) Because in obedience of God’s law, we have true freedom. Isn’t that a weird thought.

 Unfortunately, even though Jonah knew God’s character – he didn’t seem to have a good view of himself in light of God’s character.

 Stop by later for Part 2 of Lessons From the Belly of a Whale to find out why Jonah should have had more reason to praise God than the King of the Ninevites.


  1. Lynn

    This story never gets old. Like all the stories in the bible, there is timeless learnings; but this one just gets to me more. I always learn something new each time. I’m looking forward to Part 2.

  2. pepperbasham

    Oh Lynn,
    I’m glad you liked it. This story has been teaching me a lot too.
    I hope to have Part 2 in place by Thursday morning 🙂

  3. Sherrinda

    I love this post, Pepper. I’ve often wondered if our church plant stint was rather like the belly of the whale. We had lessons to learn, pride to squash, and dependence on God to cultivate.

    Nothing like the belly of the whale. 🙂


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