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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Daily Devotion for June 30, 2012

Jonah swallowed by a great fish or whale, Sumela Monastery, Turkey, fresco probably c. 1349
Fresco in the Sumela Monastery, Turkey, probably painted c. 1349



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lessons and scripture

Lord's Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.


Karl Richter demonstrates the origin of the expression "pulling out all the stops", as he performs Bach's great organ masterpiece at the Cathedral of St. Mary in Freiberg, Germany. Bach himself played this famous organ.

Prayer for the Morning

Oh Lord, most heavenly Father, Almighty and everlasting God, who has safely brought me to the beginning of this day; I give you thanks for my creation, preservation, and all the blessings of my life. Grant that this day I fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger; but that all my doings, being governed by your will, may be righteous in your sight. Through Christ our Lord, I pray.


Prayer for Grace and Strength

Lord God, I pray that you will fill my heart with the blessing of your Holy Spirit. Grant me this day the strength to be temperate in all things, diligent in my duties, and patient under my afflictions. Direct me in all my ways. Give me grace to be just and upright in all my dealings; quiet and peaceable; full of compassion; and ready to do good to all people, according to my abilities and opportunities. For the sake of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,


Community of Prayer

Heavenly Lord, I know I am not alone saying these prayers or reading your Word this morning, but many people unknown to me, from all stations of life, have joined together in this brief moment of devotion. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be among the community of all who pray in the name of Christ this morning, and remain among us always.


(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.

endless knot

Psalm 89:5-6

Let the heavens praise your wonders, O Lord,
your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones!
For who in the skies can be compared to the Lord?
Who among the heavenly beings is like the Lord?

Blue Latin Cross

Jonah 1:17 (ESV)

A Great Fish Swallows Jonah

And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Notes on the Scripture

And so, the great moment for which Jonah is so well known. Jonah's not going anywhere! When he tries to get on a ship to avoid the mission that God has set out for him, God has him thrown off the ship and then provides His own form of transportation back to where he wants Jonah to be.

The literal translation of the animal that swallows Jonah is a "great fish", but the incident is commonly called "Jonah and the whale", and for good reason. Whales were thought to be gigantic fish until a long time later, when marine biology became much more sophisticated and was able to classify whales as mammals. In modern taxonomic terms, we would not confuse fish and whales, but it seems silly to make a fuss over the matter about a story that occurred 3000 years ago.

There was a modern account of a man swallowed by a whale. In 1891, it was reported that one James Bartley, a seaman about the whaler Star of the East, was lost at sea when his boat was capsized by the tail of a sperm whale. When the animal was killed and its stomach cut open, some time later, Bartley was found alive inside of it.

But it would be a mistake to consider Jonah's fate a natural phenomenon at all. The very nature of God's communication with mankind is the action of an incomprehensible being, made manifest on earth in a way that can be grasped by a human mind. Perhaps God literally created a great fishlike creature who swallowed Jonah, or perhaps this is simply the only way in which the people of the time could grasp or explain what had occurred.

It is entirely possible that Jonah could have been swallowed by a whale and lived in its belly for three days, for God has the power to make this happen. Or it is possible that something else actually happened, and this is the explanation given us to understand. The point is, the narrative is given to us for a purpose. If we have to suspend our disbelief in order to understand a message from God, and to grasp the meaning of the Book of Jonah, we should simply be thankful for such a colorful and memorable account of Jonah's ordeal.

Jonah and the whale, Annie Lucas
Untutored Alabama artist Annie Lucas was inspired to begin painting when she experienced a vision of "Jonah and the Whale" on the walls of her home.

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