Our current series of devotions was written by Andrew Richards, head of research at INcontext International.
22 May 2017
WEEK 5: The only constant
“Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish, saying, ‘I called out to the Lord, out of my distress, and He answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and You heard my voice. For You cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me; all Your waves and Your billows passed over me. Then I said, ‘I am driven away from Your sight; yet I shall again look upon Your holy temple.’” (Jonah 2:1-4, ESV)
Jonah found himself inside the belly of a giant fish the Lord sent to save his life, after the anger of God had raged over the seas as Jonah tried to run away from God’s presence. Inside the fish, Jonah experienced complete loss, calling out from the “belly of Sheol” (or “belly of hell”), but it was also here, in Jonah’s situation of complete hopelessness, that he came to the startling realisation that God is the only constant.
Being an Israeli prophet, Jonah knew almost everything (humanly) that there was to know about the God of Israel. You didn’t just become a prophet or priest serving in the temple by your own choice. It took years and years of studying the Hebrew Scriptures, and even when you excelled in your scriptural knowledge, it was still only by God’s anointing that you become a prophet. A prophet was called by God to serve the people of God. Jonah was one such man, who, by all the standards of the day, knew God. Yet he ran away from God, and found himself “going down to the land whose bars closed upon me forever” (2:6).
Despite all his training and all his knowledge, it was only at the bottom of the ocean, in the belly of a fish, in total abandonment from God, that Jonah understood who God really is. Jonah had already confessed that God is “the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land”, proclaiming that God is all-powerful, but now for the first time, the penny dropped and Jonah realised that there is something more than God being all-mighty: He is always constant.
It was with joy that Jonah cried from within the belly of the fish, at last proclaiming that he “shall look again upon [God’s] holy temple”. For Jonah, death was not the end. If God is constant, then He would raise Jonah up again, just like He will raise up you and me on the last day to be with Him in heaven.
Choose today to place your trust in a God that is constant, in life and death. Believing in a constant God takes away the fear of death, because He promises life after death. And because He is constant, His promises never fail.
WEEK 4: The intentional God
WEEK 1: Opportunity of a Lifetime
WEEK 2: Consequences
WEEK 3: Action, not pity