Now the LORD provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God. – Jonah 1:17-2:1
The book of Jonah is written with a very high degree of literary artistry. There are connections and echoes that are seen on the 5th and 10th reading that are not likely to be seen on the first. For example, in today’s verse we have the word “provided” (also translated “prepared” and “appointed”). Whenever this book says, “Yahweh provided” it refers to an act of deliverance/salvation/grace; while every time it says “God provided,” where Yahweh (LORD) is not attached to “Elohim (God),” it refers to an act of judgment.
R. Reed Lessing writes:
The fish, then, is provided by Yahweh as a “means of grace” to save Jonah from Sheol and return him to life, communion with Yahweh in worship, and the place where he can reassume the commission he had previously abandoned.
So the belly of the great fish appears to be a knife but is really a scalpel. This is the theology of the cross. Jonah’s torture is also his treatment, his imprisonment is also his care, his pain is part of his corrective reeducation program. So the great fish is not an instrument of Yahweh’s punishment, but rather a vehicle of deliverance that will enable him to continue his ministry and also save the Ninevites. Jonah is already delivered while in the watery grave, for there, in the place of certain death, Yahweh meets him with life. The LORD of the sea in Jonah 1 is also the LORD of its creatures, and He uses both to communicate His will and salvation to Jonah.
MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 72
Q. 72. What is forbidden in the seventh commandment?
A. The seventh commandment forbiddeth all unchaste thoughts, words and actions.