As recently reported by the BBC, a group of Yemeni fishermen made a life-changing discovery – a huge quantity of ambergris in the belly of the carcase of a whale. It’s a substance produced by the whale’s digestive system that’s used in the manufacture of perfume. And it’s very valuable. The amount found by the fisherman is valued at $1.5 million. It’s actually not the first time something hugely valuable has appeared from the belly of a whale (or something very similar!). The Biblical prophet Jonah attempted to escape God’s command for him to go and preach to the city of Nineveh. He considered the Ninevites not to be worthy of God’s blessing. God was not to be mocked, however, and the Old Testament book that bears Jonah’s name records how a great storm blew up around the ship on which he was trying to escape. Convinced that the storm had been brought as a result of his disobedience, Jonah insisted that the sailors throw him into the raging waters. Jonah’s rescue, unlikely as it may seem, came in the form of a “great fish” who swallowed him whole and three days later vomited him back up safely on shore. Jonah delivered his lesson to the Ninevites who listened and turned to God. The Yemeni fishermen’s discovery changed their lives. They are now able to buy houses, get married and help others in their villages with their wealth. God’s word, like the words delivered by Jonah and carried by him in the belly of the “whale”, is even more valuable, however. It is, as the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). The word “useful”, rather tamely translated in most English versions, comes from the Greek word, dunamis. It means “dynamite”! God’s word is dynamite! Yemen is a country torn apart by conflict; its people are impoverished and the fishermen’s find has changed their lives overnight. The change will be short lived and limited, however: $1.5 million is a huge sum but it’s not enough to right the wrongs in Yemen, let alone the world. God’s word, however, has the power to change us all forever. It opens the way to a relationship with God and life in his coming Kingdom. And we don’t have to be lucky fishermen, happening upon it by accident on a fishing trip. It’s freely and easily available to us all.

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