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  • Writer's pictureDaniah Greenberg

In The Belly of the Whale

Updated: Aug 9, 2022

Whale Shark

Rest assured, Yeshua’s sacrifice ratifies a covenant between each of us and God. However, God still requires repentance for the forgiveness of sin. This is a time to be freed from useless vows. We are trapped by our own words and Yom Kippur is our day to return and find forgiveness for many of His people. We all get trapped by the sin committed by our own hands and mouths, even after receiving our Savior. ​​

Every year, the traditional Jewish community reads the Book of Jonah during Yom Kippur. We who love Yeshua, Jesus, can easily see how three days in the tomb for Yeshua is the same as the three day pattern of Jonah in the belly of the whale – so enough said – right?

Well, no. I agree the pattern of the three day disappearance is correct, but the behavior of Jonah referenced by Messiah was not just a proof text to help us recognize Messiah, it was a hint about what will happen to us after His resurrection if we are not careful to learn what God wanted to teach Jonah.

Let’s look at the timeline:

  1. ADONAI gives a word to Jonah to save a city.

  2. Jonah flees from the Presence of God onto a boat.

  3. When the crew suffers God’s wrath they pray for help.

  4. Jonah offers to get thrown overboard.

  5. They try to help him to land instead, but God won’t let them.

  6. They finally throw him overboard. Then they survive.

  7. God preserves Jonah inside the belly of a whale supernaturally

  8. When Jonah prays and remembers God’s mercy and his vow

  9. God speaks and the fish vomits Jonah out

  10. ADONAI gives a word to Jonah to save a city – a second time

  11. Jonah makes proclamation over the city and THEY REPENT!

  12. God relents due to their corporate repentance!

  13. But, Jonah gets angry at God’s mercy

  14. God shows the difference between mercy and pity

What a rollercoaster!

It’s not politically correct to have “pity” on people anymore, is it? People only seem to want what they feel entitled to. Which seems to be a lot these days. Some like to think that their own righteousness is enough. But that’s not true.

The only righteous One is God and, while we often ask for His mercy, no one seems to want His pity. I think that followers of Yeshua see mercy as somehow still dignified, as if it is your choice to agree to it. Meanwhile, pity is seen as a lower state. It seems to me that pity is reserved for someone who does not have ability to even see, much less change their own circumstances – due to ignorance or poverty or guilt or oppression. But, truly, does anybody who is needy actually remain in their circumstances if they are able to get themselves out?

Would the city have known to repent if Jonah had not been ordered by God to tell them? Why did God take “pity” on Ninevah? What makes God pay attention to one city and not another?  What makes God send a prophet into your life to correct your “stinky” thinking. And if Jonah was running away from God’s voice, don’t you think we do, too? How can blind guides lead anyone to safety?

Yom Kippur Today

According to the Bible, Holy Days are for corporate repentance. This Day of Atonement can be just as powerful for confessing corporate sin as the declarations of the Children of Israel in accepting the Torah in the first place! Yom Kippur is a day of corporate rescue! And that that is why we read the Book of Jonah.

On Yom Kippur, Jewish people from all over the world – both those who believe in Yeshua and those who don’t – take one day to obey God and cry out for mercy. To believers in Yeshua, it seems “pitiful” to ask for help from God when they don’t “see” His salvation in Yeshua. But, alas, isn’t ignoring the need for corporate Israel to see their Messiah just like Jonah being ungrateful that a city of sinners were given mercy when they deserved judgement for their individual sins?

At the Day of Atonement each year, followers of Yeshua should implore God that the “pitiful” blindness of each individual soul be removed so THEY can squeak out a prayer from the belly of the whale and be rescued by God!

If God took “pity” on you and saved you, reinvest your prayer time this year for someone else, won’t you?

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