Usually when we think of “a whale of a story,” we’re referring to something that’s a tale…a BIG tale that’s untrue. Through the years, those who describe themselves as atheists, do not believe in God nor in the miracles described in the Bible. One such supernatural story of the Bible often written off by those skeptical of God’s existence involves the experience of Jonah, whom the Bible says was swallowed by a large sea creature and spit out of its mouth three days later—and he survived. God used this experience to teach Jonah a lesson about obeying God’s call for him to preach the Lord’s message of repentance to the residents of Nineveh, a pagan city infamous among the Jews (and ancient world) for its rejection of God and its inclination toward brutality and evil acts. Jonah didn’t want to do this, but after being swallowed by a big fish and spit up onto the land, he changed his mind.
On June 11, 2021, 56-year-old Michael Packard, a commercial lobster diver says he escaped relatively unscathed after nearly being swallowed by a humpback whale off the coast of Provincetown, Massachusetts. According to a National Public Radio report of the incident, he was 45 feet down in the water when the whale suddenly scooped him up. He said he felt a huge bump, and then everything went black. At first, he thought he had been eaten by a shark, but when he didn’t feel any teeth, he realized that he was in the mouth of a whale which was trying to swallow him. Packard said, "I was in his closed mouth for about 30 to 40 seconds before he rose to the surface and spit me out. I am very bruised up but have no broken bones." When the whale rose to the water's surface it began shaking its head from side to side. Witnesses observed the incident. Packard said, "I just got thrown in the air and landed in the water, and I was free, and I just floated there. I couldn't believe I got out of that." He was pulled out of the water by his crewman and rushed back to shore to the hospital; now he is recovering from soft tissue damage and plans to go back out to sea upon his healing. His crewman, Josiah Mayo, saw the whale burst back to the surface and said, "I saw Mike come flying out of the water, feet first with his flippers on, and land back in the water."
Whale experts believe what happened between Packard and the humpback whale was accidental in that whales don’t usually like interaction with humans, and more than likely the whale was lunging for a school of fish and Packard was in the wrong place at the wrong time. When they lunge for small fish, they open their mouths, accelerate and “take in 10 SUVs worth of water and fish and then everything else,” according to the NPR report.
No doubt, Mike Packard can somewhat relate to Jonah, unlike anyone else. It took him a while to settle down after being rescued from the water. Hearing a story like this reminds me that there are always new experiences and things that the Bible talks about that maybe we yet do not know about. For those who doubt that a person can be swallowed by a whale and survive, here is a modern-day example of one who did. Who’s to say that God can’t use his creation any way he wants to accomplish his purposes, such as he did with Jonah? If God can create the world and universe from nothing, why couldn’t he command a great sea creature to swallow Jonah in order to get his life back on course with God. Hopefully it won’t take a great sea creature swallowing us to make us think more intentionally about God and to motivate us to serve God wholeheartedly. Perhaps you should refresh yourself with the message of Jonah by reading that book once again in the pages of the Old Testament.
Serving the Lord with you,