Hometown News For Orange County, Texas

Have you ever been in the belly of the whale?

Jonah 2:1 "Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God out of the fish's belly…"

This world dishes up some very interesting stuff. Don't misunderstand me, I love life and having a heart created by the Lord in His saving grace, I am always learning how to negotiate all of those interesting problems the devil, or the world throws at me or something of my own doing. As much as we find sweet times in daily life from time to time, so do we encounter problematic ones. Every now and then you get one of those problems that identifies with the dilemma Jonah found himself in. It looks hopeless and you begin to reflect on your days gone by and admit you haven't been very faithful and responsive to God's will. Jonah had been instructed of God to sail to Nineveh and deliver the one plan of salvation from sin and condemnation. Jonah disliked Ninevites for good reason. They were Gentiles who had not been very kind nor receptive to Jonah and his nation. They were a cruel and nasty people. So, Jonah refused to obey God and decided to sail to another city, Tarsus, and hold up there. On the trip God made a storm come up and Jonah knew he was the cause of this dangerous storm. He told those running the ship that it was his fault and to throw him overboard. They did. The storm stopped, but Jonah was swallowed by what was most likely a Sperm Whale in whose stomach a man can survive for a time. Now this is a problem, wouldn't you say? How do you get out of this one? The Sperm Whale goes deeper in the ocean than the other whales. Jonah said it took him to the roots of the mountains…the lowest place probably on earth. In this case he was most likely in the whale's stomach on the bottom of the ocean.  

Now, I'll pause in the story to ask you…Have you ever been in the belly of the whale kind of situation? You saw no way out, or you feared there was no way out. Maybe you just got yours or your wife's or child's tests back and it is cancer or some other disease that is declared incurable. Maybe it is a foreclosure on your house and you are about to lose your home. Maybe you have just received notice from your employer that you are about to be laid off or dismissed. These are "in the whale's belly" kind of stuff. You need this to change quickly. Jonah only had so much time to live before getting out of the whale of a problem he was in. These problems I have listed, and you can think of others, that puts you "in the belly of the whale" problems that have a time factor attached to them. They need immediate attention…immediate deliverance or it will be devastating. Here it is…back to the story. Jonah 2:1 "Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God out of the fish's belly…" I would not be far wrong to assume Jonah was rather loud with his prayer, but he knew that there wasn't one person nor one thing that would ever be available to deliver him out of the belly of the whale except the Almighty God, the creator of the whale and the ocean. All through the Bible it is declared by writer after writer that the Lord God is the deliverer of His children. Like Jonah, like me who has the pronouncement of two stage four cancers upon me, or maybe you who have a similar dilemma. Where do you go? Jonah is only one of many examples of whale size problems recorded in Scripture. Every time when that person or persons of God called upon Him, He delivered them. I can vouch for God that He is not through delivering the outcry of His children, those who are truly born again into His family through His Son, Jesus Christ the Lord (John 3:1-7; Phil. 4:13). He has sustained me through two major surgeries that were performed at the same time, removing the two areas of established cancer. He has delivered me in other times of my life before on numerous occasions. Just call out, and then be patient and wait and watch. In my congregation and every congregation I have had the privilege of pastoring there is testimony after testimony of their cry to God in prayer when in a whale swallowing kind of situation. I hear testimony after testimony of people from other congregations and walks of life who cried unto the Lord and the whale spit them out into deliverance onto shore line sunshine. Jonah 2:10 "And the Lord spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land." Chapter 3:1-3 "And the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time, saying, 2 Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee. 3 So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord." He went and delivered God's plan of salvation and the city was converted.

Note that the one big caveat to be taken away from this lesson is that when God answers your prayers and makes the whale spit you out (the problem solved), go and do His bidding. Obey Him. Be a living testimony unto Him, maybe like you never were before. After all, He has just delivered you out of a "whale swallowing" situation.

Charles Empey is the Pastor of Cove Baptist Church, Orange, TX.


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