Jonah 1:17 and Paragraph Summary
1:17 - And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights.
Once again, we see the Lord's hand in all of chapter one: the storm, the sailor's actions, and finally, the appointed fish.
Here we find the final stage of the Lord's discipline: isolation. When the general call to repentance, the confrontation by one, and the confrontation by many do not achieve God's desired results, He brings isolation. In Jonah's case, it was absolute isolation: from humanity, from light, from anything resembling life - he rightly describes it as Sheol, the underworld.
It is easy to gloss over the information in this verse without giving it its proper consideration. The second half of the verse is especially relevant in assessing Jonah's heart. It takes three days and nights of isolation in the absolute dark, with the stink of death around him and being near drowning himself for Jonah to finally relent to do God's will.
Three days...Three...days. Three days without light, without fresh air, possibly without food or at least fresh food, only rancid sea water to drink, and the smell of death and decay is inescapable.
And it took Jonah three days of being in this environment to finally relent. How hard, hard, Jonah's heart is toward the will of the Lord and His purposes.
Chapter 1 Notes and Summary
Israelites may have seen themselves in Jonah in that they had been called God's people but instead ran from Him. They would recognize the Judges cycle in this chapter and resolving in the next chapter with Jonah's restoration.
The missionary aspect of chapter one would have been a new revelation of going out to the pagans with the word of the Lord instead of drawing them to the land and converting them. The northern kingdom may have been shamed by the sailor's repentance at the discipline of the Lord when they were unwilling. However, they would probably be in the same place spiritually as Jonah - unrepentant at sparing Nineveh the judgment that their wickedness had brought upon them by the hand of the Lord.
Chapter 1 boiled down to a sentence: God's will, will be done.