Therefore they cried out to the Lord and said, “We pray, O Lord, please do not let us perish for this man’s life, and do not charge us with innocent blood; for You, O Lord, have done as it pleased You.” So they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice to the Lord and took vows. Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. (Jonah 1:14-17)
Everyone knows the story of Jonah. Some may think it is just a fable or myth fabricated to enhance the intent of a lesson. If God is able to create the world who's to say He can't cause anything to happen? Including a man surviving being swallowed by a "whale."
I'll bet there are many things that happen in this world or in our own lives that we don't even perceive as by God's design, things He has not made us aware of or we have not noticed. They may be like a raging sea or just a delay. God's hand...
Example: you get up in the morning, get ready for an appointment, have your coffee, breakfast, spill coffee on your shirt, which you need to change. The only shirt that is suitable needs pressing. Now you're running a little late. Shirt ironed, you're on your way. You get in car and forget you needed to get gas. Another delay. You head to your appointment, taking a quicker route allowing you to get there just barely in time. Later you hear about a deadly accident on the road you would have taken. It took place at the time you would have been there. Your life might just have been spared.
Think that's impossible? Why? What's to say this is just one more time in your life when God wanted to get your attention? It might happen more than you think, in ways we couldn't imagine. In good ways or bad. But it was looked at as "karma" or fate.
Jesus walked on water. He calmed a raging sea. He opened blind eyes, healed broken bodies, fed thousands with next to nothing. He allowed for a great fish to be present to save Jonah's life. And although these men on the cargo ship were not believers at first, it's quite evident they were after they tossed Jonah into the sea, the water calmed and their lives saved. Don't you think they put two and two together? And...their plea to a God they did not know to not be charged with Jonah's death was also met.
Who says God doesn't intervene in our lives? We might just be missing it. Take a close look around you and things that have transpired. Maybe God was trying, or is, trying to get your attention.
While we may not ever know if God caused this or that, whether good or bad, we can know, and believe with all the wonder of a little child, that our God is in control. If we can take this knowledge into our lives, believe it, believe then in God, then were one step closer to taking Him at His word.
I like how the New Living Translation says this: The sailors were awestruck by the LORD's great power, and they offered him a sacrifice and vowed to serve him. They vowed to serve Him. They offered a sacrifice. Today some churches, not all, we are told we must make a sacrifice to receive Christ. That sacrifice is our own lives, spiritually. We turn to God and worship Him, not the gods we have created in our everyday lives. Our lives...a sacrifice to Him. This is our vow when we call on Him to be our Lord and Savior, and ask for Him to save us from a spiritual death.
Jonah's story is as real as any story in the Bible. If it weren't there'd be no need for the Book to give us right wisdom and knowledge for everyday living, introduce us to Jesus and no command to give our lives to Him. Jonah, like Jesus, was willing to sacrifice his life to save those ship's men (and came forth again after three days). Jesus did that for all, anyone willing to hear and obey...even for people today. Today's not too late!
Romans 10:13 - For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (And Joel 2:32, Acts 2:21)