Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” Jonah 1:17
One of the most well-known stories in the Bible is the tale of “Jonah and the Whale.” Even the youngest of us can give an account of the man who ran from God, was swallowed by a great big fish, and subsequently spent three gloomy days and nights in its belly. (Matthew 12:40) Familiarity with this Bible story is so remarkable that even many unbelievers know the drastic consequences of poor Jonah’s disobedience.
As we read through the book that bears his name, we may find many lessons that can be applied to our Christian lives. In the first chapter, we see Jonah’s divine call from his Lord: “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me” (Jonah 1:7). However, the man escaped to Joppa where he boarded a ship on its way to Tarshish. Because of Jonah’s disobedience, God caused a great fish to swallow him. For three days and nights, the would-be prophet was imprisoned in its belly. Perhaps this predicament appeals to your adventurous side, but I wouldn’t want to be trapped in the belly of a whale for one second, let alone three days!
God later used Jonah to see revival in the influential city of Nineveh, but one must remember that three days were wasted prior to that spiritual eclipse. Keep in mind that the city of Nineveh was so enormous that it would take the average person three days just to walk around the perimeter. Countless events—wrong deeds that could have been righted, deaths, and more—would have taken place in that busy city during Jonah’s detention in the whale’s belly. I wonder how many people died and went to hell because of his disobedience? I wonder how many lives could have been salvaged, had he obeyed the first time?
“We Christians cannot afford to waste one moment in this world”
Jesus Christ said, “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.” (John 9:4) We Christians cannot afford to waste one moment in this world. Circumstances—a harried driver unknowingly runs a red light or an otherwise healthy heart suddenly stops beating—can change in the blink of an eye; and, as a result, many step into eternity without knowing where they are headed. We do not have time to disobey God’s will—countless souls rely on “the power that worketh in us” (Ephesians 3:20).
I would hate to stand before our Lord one day, knowing that some or many of my days were wasted. How ashamed I would feel if He were to show me the souls I could have reached had I been obedient to Him. Let each of us do the best we can to make today and the days that follow not wasted days but, rather, ones full of “fruit that may abound.”