The idea of Jonah being swallowed by a great fish is not impossible.
J. Vernon McGee in his commentary, on the book of Jonah, declares that he believes Jonah died in the fish and was
resurrected. After looking into this matter, I am convinced that although this is possible, it is reading more into the bible than it
actually says. McGee also quotes another book titled "The Bible Today" by Grace W. Kellogg which I would like to include for
you here. This quote is in McGee's commentary on pg. 40-42.
"There are at least two know monsters of the deep who could easily have swallowed Jonah. They are the Balaenoptera
Musculus or sulphur-bottom whale, and the Rhinodon Typicus or whale shark. Neither of these monsters of the deep have any
teeth. They feed in an interesting way by opening their enormous mouths, submerging their lower jaw, and rushing through the
water at terrific speed. After straining out the water, they swallow whatever is left. A sulphur-bottom whale, one hundred feet
long, was captured off Cape Cod in 1933. His mouth was ten or twelve feet wide- so big he could have easily swallowed a
horse. These whales have four to six compartments in their stomachs, in any one of which a colony of men could find free
lodging. They might even have a choice of rooms, for in the head of this whale is an excellent air storage chamber, an
enlargement of the nasal sinus, often measuring seven feet high, seven feet long, by fourteen feet long. If he has an unwelcome
guest on board who gives him a headache, the whale swims to the nearest land and gets rid of the offender as he did Jonah."
The Cleveland Plain Dealer recently quoted an article by Dr. Ransome Harvey who said that a dog was lost overboard from a
ship. It was found in the head of the whale six days later, alive and barking.
Frank Bullen, F.R.G.S., who wrote, "The Cruise of the Cathalot," tells of a shark fifteen feet in length which was found in the
stomach of a whale. He says that when dying the whale ejects the contents of its stomach.
The late Dr. Dixon stated that in a museum at Beirut, Syria, there is a head of a whale shark big enough to swallow the largest
man that history records! He also tells of a white shark of the Mediterranean which swallowed a whole horse; another
swallowed a reindeer minus only its horns. In still another Mediterranean white shark was found a whole sea cow, about the
size of an ox.
These facts show that Jonah could have been swallowed by either a whale or a shark. But has any other man besides Jonah
been swallowed and lived to tell the tale? We know of two such instances.
The famous French scientist, M. de Parville, writes of James Bartley, who in the region of the Falkland Islands near South
America, was supposed to have been drown at sea. Two days after his disappearance, the sailors made a catch of a whale.
When it was cut up, much to their surprise they found their missing friend alive but unconscious inside the whale. He revived
and has been enjoying the best of health ever since his adventure.
Dr. Harry Rimmer, President of Research Science Bureau of Los Angeles, writes of another case. "In the Literary Digest we
noticed an account of an English sailor who was swallowed by a gigantic Rhinodon in the English Channel. Briefly the account
stated that in the attempt to harpoon one of these monstrous sharks, this sailor fell overboard, and before he could be picked
up again, the shark turned and engulfed him. Forty-eight hours after the accident occurred, the fish was sighted and slain.
When the shark was opened by the sailors, they were amazed to find the man unconscious but alive! He was rushed to the
hospital and found to be suffering from shock alone, and a few hours later was discharged as being physically fit. The account
concluded by saying that the man was on exhibit in a London Museum at a shilling admittance fee; being advertised as "The
Jonah of the Twentieth Century."
In 1926 Dr. Rimmer met this man, and writes that his physical appearance was odd; his body was devoid of hair and patches
of yellowish-brown color covered his entire skin." (This concludes the quote in McGee's commentary which origanly came
from "The Bible Today" by Grace W. Kellogg)
As you can see it is certainly not an impossible event for Jonah to be swallowed by a great fish and remain alive. Does this
mean that it was only an unusual event and not a divine intervention by God? No not at all! In Jonah 1:17 we learn that the
LORD appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah. Then in Jonah 2:10 we see that the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited
Jonah up onto the dry land. We know of no one besides Jonah who was swallowed alive and then vomited on land by the fish.
This happened because the Lord caused it to happen. This is not the only miraculous event in the book of Jonah. The plant
which came up overnight and perished overnight also was divine intervention Jonah 4:6-10. Of course the greatest miracle of
all recorded in the book of Jonah is that all of Nineveh Repented! The skeptic needs to remember that just because the Bible
records miracles does not mean that it is not true. The great mound of evidence for the Bible points to the contrary. How can
this be? It is because the Bible is what it claims to be, the written word of God!
LESSONS FROM JONAH
To really understand what is being said here in this section, it would be very helpful if you would sit down, open your bible and
read the book of Jonah first. It is a very short book which only has 4 chapters, or about 1,344 words. A person can sit down and
easily read it in about 10-15 minutes.
1. It is never too late to pray. We might tend to think that circumstances have gone too far. If you were out in the ocean, thrown
out of a boat and then swallowed by a great fish you might tend to think that your fate had been sealed. We need to remember
that nothing is too hard for the Lord. This happened to Jonah and it was not the end for him.
2. You cannot run away from God. Jonah ran in the opposite direction of which he was told to go and ran right into God. Even
when he was confronted by the sailors on the boat he did not repent, but rather he told the sailors to throw him overboard. Did
his stubbornness save him from going to Nineveh? No he thought he would rather die and told the sailors to throw him
overboard. Then apparently after being thrown overboard and swallowed by a great fish he had a change of heart and
repented. Jonah could have saved himself a lot of trouble by being obedient to God. This is a good lesson for us, we cannot run
away from God. The Lord is everywhere that we may choose to flee. It would be much easier for us to be obedient in the first
place. We may not encounter anything as drastic as what Jonah went through, but we are told that whom the Lord loves He
disciplines Heb 12:6.
3. God has control of circumstances even over nature. God caused the storm which tossed the ship about that Jonah was on.
God told the fish to swallow Jonah as well as had him vomit him up on shore. God caused the plant to grow which provided
shade for Jonah. God also appointed the worm that killed the plant. This was all for a lesson for Jonah because he was not
4. God is gracious and compassionate. God is slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness Jonah 4:2. God could have
easily just killed Jonah when he took off for Tarshish instead of going to Nineveh like he was told. Instead God dealt with him
through a process of circumstances until he was willing to go. Not only that, but we know that God hates sin. Nineveh would
have been destroyed then if they did not repent. Sodom and Gomorrah serve as a good example of what the Lord could have
done Gen.18:17-19:25. Instead God sent Jonah to warn them so that they would repent instead. This is because the Lord
would much rather have people turn from their wicked ways and repent than destroy them Ezek.33:11. From our perspective
we might tend to side with Jonah. There are reasons why Jonah would not want to go to Nineveh. He was afraid that they would
repent and God would forgive them Jonah 4:2. Jonah wanted them destroyed not forgiven.
There are many reasons why perhaps Jonah would not want them to be forgiven. We can only speculate as to what exactly
those reasons were since the bible does not tell us. Put yourself in Jonah's place, suppose you disliked someone enough that
you wanted them destroyed. Would you want to be the messenger telling them to repent, if you thought they might repent, and
God would forgive them? We need to remember that we are told to love our enemies, do good to those who hate us, bless
those who curse us and pray for those who mistreat us Luke 6:27-28. This can certainly be easier said than done. Until we do
this we are in the same boat as Jonah being disobedient to the Lord.
RUNNING FROM GOD
Death will come upon me soon. Ps.7:11-13, Ps.139:7-11
I think it's time to change my tune. The book of Jonah
Eph.4:30, Heb.12:6, 1Jn.1:9
If my hearts not right with God,
He will bury me in the sod.
I grieved the Holy Spirit today,
because from God I ran away
He warned me of discipline to come,
and there is no where to run
I must repent and turn to him,
and he will forgive me of my sin
Yes I think it's time to change my tune,
or death will come upon me soon.
By Robert Kiser
Major Christian Doctrines
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