A Modern Jonah

Average reading time is about 5 and a half minutes
AN AMAZING FACT:  At 4:30 on the morning of May 26, 2013, in the oil-rich waters off the Nigerian coast, Harrison Odjegba Okene sat in a small room in the tugboat where he was the cook. The boat suddenly lurched, flipped over, and began to sink. Without any light or heat, he groped his way to a cabin that seemed safer than where he was, and there he waited as the temperature dropped and the water took up more and more of his cabin.

Okene piled mattresses on top of a platform to stay above the water. With only a bottle of soda for sustenance, he spent what must have seemed an eternity reviewing his life and worrying about his crewmates. At one point, he became even more fearful as he heard the sound of sharks or barracudas feeding and fighting over something nearby.

Finally, Okene was rescued by a team of divers. Since all of the other crew members had perished, when one of the divers saw his hand, the diver thought it was the hand of a corpse—but the hand grabbed him back! “I started calling on the name of God. … I started reminiscing on the verses I read before I slept. I read the Bible from Psalm 54 to 92. My wife had sent me the verses to read that night when she called me before I went to bed,” Okene said later.

Okene had spent three days in the belly of a tugboat in the murky depths of the Atlantic Ocean, delivered from death by his prayers to God. Does this story remind you of anyone in the Bible?

When people in Jesus’ day asked for a sign, He said the “sign of Jonah” was the only sign that would be given. When Jonah preached in Nineveh, his “back to life” experience with the whale likely gave credence to his message. Similarly, Jesus’ resurrection is evidence of His divinity.

But sadly, for many the sign of Jonah isn’t enough—not only do they disbelieve the Jonah account, but they deny the resurrection as well. We’re left with a choice: we can join the “evil generation” in disbelief or the Ninevites in believing and repenting. Is the sign of Jonah enough for you?

KEY BIBLE TEXTS
And when the people were gathered thick together, he began to say, This is an evil generation: they seek a sign; and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet. Luke 11:29


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