Are you in the belly of the fish?

As I was praying before bible reading today, the Holy Spirit prompted me to go to Jonah 2. It is Jonah's prayer of thanksgiving to God for relieving him from certain drowning.

Jonah's Prayer
1 From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God. He said: "In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry. You hurled me into the deep, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me. I said, 'I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.'

5 The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you brought my life up from the pit, O LORD my God. "When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, LORD, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple.

8 "Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the LORD."

There are several parts that leap out for me, in the way that scriptures do. Verse 8, Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. Isaiah 2 shows the temporal nature of idol worship: in the midst of this tribulation of the Day of the Lord, people will finally see the worthlessness of their idols. They will hide among rocks and throw them to "the moles and bats" (Isaiah 2:20). While this throwing out includes actual idols made of gold and silver, charms and religious objects, the apostle Paul equates idolatry with our modern pastime of greed and covetousness (Colossians 3:5).

We have made idols of everything these days. Our cars, entertainment centers and other toys. There is a current commercial on television showing two yuppies excited about all the features their new iPhone has (or blackberry, who can keep up) and a third guy insisting he is happy with his current mechanism but the thought bubble comes up that he is really so jealous he would steal theirs if they put it down for one second. An entire commercial exalting idols and jealousy and thievery cannot be pleasing to God!

II Timothy 3:1-5,7 warns us of godlessness in the last days. Men will be lovers of self, lovers of money. They will be impatient, and having no patience, fail to take the necessary time and self-control to store up treasures in heaven.

It is a time of distress for many Christians as well. However, it was a time of distress for Jonah, too. Jonah had run away from the Command of the Lord, who then tossed him from a boat in the middle of a storm and sent a fish to swallow him. In the midst of Jonah's distress he called out to the Lord, he did not cry out against the Lord. And the Lord HEARD HIM! As the end times progress, there may come temptations to succumb to the trials, to abandon our narrow path and opt for the wide way of the covetous now. To cry against the Lord who is sending these trials upon the earth. Don't succumb, brother! Don't raise your fist against Him, sister! Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit grace. Trust Him always. His deliverance is perfect and just. It will come.