I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD. Psalm 40:1-3 NIV
From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God. He said: “In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry. You hurled me into the deep, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me. I said, `I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.’ The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you brought my life up from the pit, O LORD my God. “When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, LORD, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the LORD.” Jonah 2:1-9 NIV
“Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters,” (Genesis 1:2). In Hebrew, the rhyming phrase is “tohu v vohu”. In the context, “tohu” implies chaos or uninhabitable, and “vohu” empty or desolate. These words paint quite a picture of a chaotic, desolate, empty wilderness – the earth BEFORE God filled it with plants, animals and humans.
The word “vohu” is used in 2 other places (Jeremiah 4:23, & Isaiah 34:11) to describe the coming destruction of Israel by the Babylonians, and the destruction of the earth in the end times. The word “tohu” is used many times in the Old Testament, usually describing chaos, futility or confusion. Genesis 1 & 2 describe creation – exactly how God fills the earth and the skies and the waters with plants, with animals, and with the first two humans. The Bible is unique in its telling of creation because God brings order out of chaos, creativity out of desolation – filling the emptiness. It is God who made the earth livable and inhabitable by all living things (Isaiah 45:11-12, & 18).
(Psalm 69:1-3) says, “Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me. I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God.”
What sort of chaos are you experiencing today? How does God bring order into our world today?
Jonah, in the middle of a fish, after running from God said, “In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry,” (Jonah 2:2). God entered into Jonah’s chaos and answered his prayer. I encourage you to invite God into your chaos. Ask him to order your world, to fill it with life-giving activities, people, and plans. Look at the rest of Psalm 69, or Genesis 49:15-21, or read the book of Ruth to see how God entered into the chaos of David’s, Joseph’s, Ruth’s and Naomi’s lives. God wants to be invited into the chaos of your life too, and He will bring order and remember, “it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails,” (Proverbs 21:19).