The story of Jonah and the whale is a powerful testament to God’s goodness and mercy. Jonah was called by God during the bronze age of the Akkadian Assyrian empire, which was brutal and full of villains. Citizens of this kingdom were oppressed by their kings, so God told Jonah to go tell the citizens of Nineveh to repent. In contrast, Jonah traveled in the opposite direction and a huge whale swallowed him. That sea monster seemed like punishment, but it was actually God’s mercy. It is what keeps Jonah from drowning and brings him back to Nineveh. As a result, God reinstated his calling.
During his time in this whale, Jonah said some of scripture’s most profound words. In the King James Version of the above scripture, he said, “Those who observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.” For Jonah, the lying vanity is the ocean, whale, Nineveh, and evil. All of these became smoke and mirrors, obscuring the truth about Jonah’s assignment. Anything contrary to God’s word is a lying vanity. Jonah decided he can either sit in the whale and dwell on his predicament, or he could close his eyes and think about the divine mercy that belongs to him. If you stay in your home when God says go and see about your neighbor; or you become restrained when He says share your faith and build something great, you are forsaking your own mercy.
Friend, all of us have allowed life’s lying vanities to become smoke and mirrors and keep us from our God-given calling and assignments. Eventually, you will see through the smoke and mirrors and realize that it was in God’s hands all along. The Holy Spirit will help you from becoming stagnant or trapped by moving you into the fullness of God’s plan.