The Esther—Jonah Connection

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Devotional by Dr. Barri Cae Seif.

On the evening of February 25, Adar 13 in the Hebrew/Biblical calendar, Jews from all over the world will celebrate Purim. Purim is the holiday that commemorates the time in history when the Jews of Persia were saved from destruction. During the reign of King Ahasuerus, one of his officials, Haman, wanted to destroy the Jews. Haman had been snubbed by Esther’s uncle, Mordecai. Mordecai refused to bow down to him so Haman built a gallows. He drew lots (purim) that designated Adar 13 would be that terrible day. God intervened through remarkable circumstances and the Jews were saved. Haman instead, was hung on the gallows. The movie, One Night with the King , is a nice depiction of this Biblical story.

So how does this connect with Jonah? We read in Jonah in chapter 1, verse 7. Each man said to his mate, “Come, let us cast lots so we may learn on whose account this calamity has struck us.” So they cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah.” Jonah received a word from God to go to Nineveh and tell them that their disobedience has angered the LORD. But Jonah decided to go against the LORD’s orders and fled from the LORD. He leaned on his own understanding rather than do what the LORD asked him to do. He found a ship that was leaving Joppa near Tel Aviv, he paid the fare, went down into it. Always when we run from the LORD, the sure direction we always go is down. The LORD hurled a great wind…a great storm arose. So Jonah takes a nap.

The captain, who did not know the LORD, went down and awoke Jonah. The crewmates cast lots to see who brought this on, and the lot fell on Jonah. The purim fell upon Jonah. Here he was, backslid from the LORD, blatantly disobedient, and now, the lot fell on him. Jonah knew he had done wrong. He knew that he was the reason that the storm had come upon them. He ordered the crewmates to toss him overboard. At first, they refused, yet finally did so. “And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights.” (Jonah 1:17)

Here is Jonah. Good man, right in the sight of the LORD but he thought he knew better than God. He thought he knew what course his life should take. He ignored the LORD’s direction and went on his own way. Then a great wind and a great storm arose. Now he sits in the belly of a big fish.
Jonah’s name means dove. I have heard of birds eating fish, but this is the first of a fish eating a bird.

It is not a pretty sight. Brine, seaweed, old undigested fins from other fish, much rotten fish, many body parts of fish, many fish eyes looking at him, stinking rotting smells, this was not a good place. He knew he was in hell, “I called out of my distress to the LORD, And He answered me. I cried for help from the depth of Sheol; You heard my voice.”(Jonah 2:2) Yes, Jonah had sense enough to cry out to God. He had nowhere else to go. He realized that he had done wrong. He offers up a sacrifice of PRAISE, right there in the pit of hell.

“But I will sacrifice to You, With the voice of thanksgiving. That which I have vowed I will pay. Salvation is from the LORD.”
The LORD brought deliverance to him Then the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah up onto the dry land. (Jonah 2 10).
Through the vomit came deliverance! However God chooses to deliver you, praise His name and thank Him in advance because He’s going to come through for you!

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Phil. 4:8

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March 5, 2021