Of Whales, Prophets, and Mixes

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is BELLY

And the thought that comes to my mind first is the Bible account of Jonah being swallowed by a whale, which the old prophet compared to being in hell. We might, too! I doubt the whale was happy to play host, either.

In the Biblical book of Jonah, the giant creature is called a fish:
Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish’s belly, and said, “I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heard my voice.”
Jonah 1: 17; 2: 1-2

It’s Jesus, centuries later, who specifically named it as whale:
But he answered and said unto them, “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Matt. 12: 39-40

Jesus often compared between the old Law and the instructions He was giving. We see many literal demonstrations in the Law that took on a more intense meaning in the New. Like where Jesus told his listeners, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: but I say unto you, that ye resist not evil. Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. Matt 5:38-39

Where the Old Testament taught fairness, an even return for damage inflicted, Jesus went beyond the Law and taught forgiveness. He urged his listeners to suffer a wrong rather than retaliate with anger and violence.

What happened to Jonah was a literal demonstration of what would someday happen to Jesus. However, certain laws demonstrated literally a meaning that later was understood in a symbolic way. For example, one Old Testament law said the Jews must not weave a garment with two different fibers. So, no poly-cottons in Israel’s day. Neither could they seed a field with two different grains.

Does God, the Heavenly Father, frown on mixed fibers and grain? No, but He does frown on unequal mixes, the combining of good and evil. This law is the literal demonstration of a spiritual truth: it displeases him when we take something that comes from pagan or evil roots, swipe it with a whitewash brush of religion, and call it “good now.” Which explains why many Christian people through the centuries have rejected the deck of playing cards because they are derived from the tarot card deck, a thing of occult origin.

And this is enough about Jonah and the Whale, laws and illustrations. Have a great week, everyone.

Mary’s Faith

And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, “They have no wine.”
Jesus saith unto her, “Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.”
His mother saith unto the servants, “Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.”
—Read the whole account of this miracle in John 2:1-8

When I read these verses I couldn’t help but be impressed with the faith Mary demonstrated. “Whatever He asks, do it.”

Somebody had a problem. It wasn’t Mary’s problem, but she knew about it – even though the fellow in charge of the wedding feast didn’t seem to be clued in. I imagine the folks giving the feast were relatives, maybe a cousin or even a niece or nephew of Mary, which is why she and her children and even Jesus’ disciples all attended.

So Mary was somehow privy to the problem. She didn’t get in a mad flap (like I might.) She didn’t wash her hands of the situation and leave others to deal with it (like I might.) No, even though it wasn’t her problem, she brought it to Jesus’ attention, believing that He could do something though He apparently hasn’t worked any miracles before.

His response was almost rude. It sounds to me a lot like, “So? What am I supposed to do about it? This isn’t ‘Amazing time’ for me yet.”

Mary didn’t get confrontational. “Listen, Son. These are our relatives and You have to help them out.”

She didn’t nag or scold. “Look, this is a disaster! Don’t just sit there. Get up and do something!”

She didn’t whine, “Something has to change here. Can’t you please, please, do something?”

She didn’t have a solution to suggest. “If you’d kindly make six buckets of wine appear right there in the pantry, everyone would be so grateful.”

So I glean from these verses that Mary was aware of the problem; there was no visible solution; she brought the problem to the only One who could solve it; she kept her cool, sat on her pride, and didn’t argue with Him about it.

I doubt she had any idea what Jesus could do to solve the problem, or even if He would do anything. She simply informed Him about the situation and left it in His hands. Yet she had faith. She prepared for a solution. She told the servants, “Whatever He tells you to do, be sure to follow through with it.”

I’m guessing she quietly took her place among the guests and waited to see if and how Jesus would provide.

These verses make me look at my own prayers, the petitions and the attitudes I come to God with. Do I wash my hands of other people’s problems? Do I bring these needs to the One Who can help, or mull them over for days and weeks first, trying to come up with a great solution to suggest to Him? Do I believe He actually can and will do something? Do I whine? He just has to do something — like NOW!

Suppose Mary had said, “This isn’t my problem.” Suppose she hadn’t wanted to bother Jesus with it. What if she’d been doubtful that He could do something and hadn’t said anything to the servants to prepare them for a solution? Would there have been any ‘water-turned-to-wine’ miracle in the Bible. I doubt it.

Lord, teach us to ask in faith trusting Your wisdom to provide the best answer.