Jonah: Day 14

Now the Lord had appointed a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the fish three days and three nights.

Jonah 1:17 (HCSB)

There has been one thing I have kept in my wallet for years. It is a simple card with a picture of two penguins facing each other. One penguin has a huge red fish swallowing its head, like an oversized hat slipping down to its shoulders! In the corner are four words: “Relax, God’s in charge.” Sure, it is silly, but it comically reminds me that whatever happens, however strange and completely beyond human explanation it may be, I can relax because God is in charge.

God is in charge of all things: the fish in the sea, the birds in the air, the comets and stars, the atoms and molecules. If God wants a “huge fish” (not a whale necessarily!) to appear and swallow someone, and for that person to stay alive miraculously inside this huge fish for three days and three nights, then it happens. What God wants, God gets.

I find the story—the historical story—of Jonah a good measuring rod for a person’s faith and how big a person thinks that God is. If you believe that God can raise from the dead a man who was beaten, scourged, crucified, and who had a spear shoved through His side, right into His heart, then why would you think God could not do the far-easier thing He does with Jonah and the fish!? We can’t explain the resurrection with science or logic, and we don’t even try. We accept the resurrection because the Bible says it happens.

We should accept that what happened to Jonah truly happened because the Bible says it did. In fact, Jesus moves from speaking about other Bible stories we don’t doubt for a second, such as the Queen of Sheba visiting King Solomon, to the story of Jonah in the belly of a fish, without missing a step (Luke 11:29-32). If Jesus, the perfect Son of God in whom there could be no lie, thought that this really happened, then we call Him—we call God Himself—a liar if we say it is just a ‘myth’ or a ‘metaphor’. God is not a liar. Belief in Jonah and the huge fish is a litmus test of the sincerity of our faith.

Yes, the world will mock you for believing it. Then again, the world will mock you for believing that Jesus rose from the dead and is God. Jesus said Christians would be mocked; we must accept it and proclaim the truths of the Bible anyway.

  • Adam Young is Associate Minister at All Saints' Church in North Ferriby, England, and Padre to the Yorkshire North & West Army Cadet Force. He has a Master in Applied Theology from Oxford University. In his spare time, he enjoys weightlifting, trail running, painting miniatures, and reading theology.