When I think about Jonah, I flash back to my Sunday School years and the flannel graph board. There would often be two pictures of Jonah – one of him inside the whale and one of him being spewed out onto the shore. In this short, four chapter book of the Bible, lies a hidden gem of a verse.
From inside the belly of the fish, Jonah is praying. His prayer is recorded in Chapter 2. Among other things prayed, he says this:
“Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the Lord.” (Jonah 2:8-9).
Did you catch the significance of what Jonah has learned?
Idols will block grace from entering our lives.
The Message puts it this way: “Those who worship hollow gods, god-frauds, walk away from their only true love.” Any idol is false, hollow, fraudulent, and will take us away from our only true love – God. Only when he was swallowed by the great fish, only when he was alone with himself and God, did Jonah begin to see all he was losing, what he was forfeiting. It is then that he has a change of heart and says:
“But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed, I will make good. Salvation comes from the Lord.” (verse 9)
He has realized all that he was giving up due to his pride, his disobedience, and his rebellion. He understands there is nothing in this life worth losing the grace that was his. He has learned that the way of obedience is the way of blessing.
Guess what happens?
“And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.” (Jonah 2:10).
Yes, God gave the big heave-ho and Jonah was on dry land having learned his lesson.
Two questions to ask ourselves today:
- What am I clinging to?
- What is it that I am forfeiting?
May we be willing to let go of idols in our lives. May we be willing to go the road of obedience. May we cling only to Him – He is worth it!!!