1 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil [evil or disaster] has come up before me.” 3 But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went on board, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord.
4 But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up. 5 Then the mariners were afraid, and each cried out to his god. And they hurled the cargo that was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone down into the inner part of the ship and had lain down and was fast asleep. 6 So the captain came and said to him, “What do you mean, you sleeper? Arise, call out to your god! Perhaps the god will give a thought to us, that we may not perish.”
7 And they said to one another, “Come, let us cast lots, that we may know on whose account this evil has come upon us.” So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah (Proverbs 16). 8 Then they said to him, “Tell us on whose account this evil has come upon us. What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?” 9 And he said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” 10 Then the men were exceedingly afraid and said to him, “What is this that you have done!” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them.
11 Then they said to him, “What shall we do to you, that the sea may quiet down for us?” For the sea grew more and more tempestuous. 12 He said to them, “Pick me up and hurl me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you, for I know it is because of me that this great tempest has come upon you.” 13 Nevertheless, the men rowed hard [the men dug in their oars] to get back to dry land, but they could not, for the sea grew more and more tempestuous against them.
14 Therefore they called out to the Lord, “O Lord, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not on us innocent blood, for you, O Lord, have done as it pleased you.” 15 So they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. 16 Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows.
17 And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
Jonah – Chapter 2:1-2
Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish, 2 saying,“I called out to the Lord, out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice."
The Jonah witness bothers people. It sounds like it should begin, “once upon a time.” Great for the kiddies in Sunday School. As Christians we should remember disciples asked Jesus who would be good enough to have salvation, He replied. “All things are possible with God.”
Sooner or later, you will have a Jonah story in your own life. This story is bigger than a fish tale, it is about having a personal conversation with God, not in your brain which isn’t going to survive death, but in the essence of your being – your soul.
We’ve had discussions in the past, that if you’ve lost a child, have a serious illness, something that causes a lot of contemplation – we wonder if we are being punished. No, Jesus Christ died for your sins; you need no further redemption upon believing you are, personally, saved by the Lord Jesus.
When Christians believe they are saved, how do they know? Christians in Bible study have this conversation a lot. The reply is usually this, “you know what you know, what you know.” It describes a deep inner conviction. Unshakable.
Jonah does not want to go into the Assyrian Empire and help the enemy. Just as Winston Churchill would not have wanted to go to Berlin and preach to the German people. Jonah is convinced this is wrong, is too big for him, will ostracize him from the good opinion of his people, sounds nuts and will endanger him. Jonah has a big dilemma. Jonah must have decided God was not asking him something out of line with God’s nature. It did not violate anything he had learned about God, His nature or His word. Jonah decided to use his option God gave him – his free will.
And Jonah’s free will works. Jonah is traveling far and away. Until there is a crisis and every person on board begins to have a situation where they reach out desperately in their belief in their higher power. Paul would have called this their Unknown God. We might call this what the entire Scripture says is true – God’s unshakable Plan. Jesus would probably say this is His promise of “ask and the door will opened for you.”
The men on the ship are 1. Crying out to God. 2. Understanding only by spiritual conviction what the problem is. 3. Seeking to save Jonah’s life. 4. Placing Jonah’s safety before all the ship. Mercy before sacrifice, even at the cost of their lives.
Remember Jesus’ advice to Martha in Luke 10:38-42, the better portion will not be taken away from people seeking the Lord. Jonah finally decides his life is not more important than other men. He offers to do God’s will, even if it will kill him.
So many people are very afraid of doing God’s will and trusting God for exactly the reasons of the Jonah story. It points to a fear button of committing themselves to God. God Will Make Them Uncomfortable. So… NO. Jonah wasn’t forced into doing God’s will. Jonah was grown into placing himself in God’s hands with powerful results. At the end of Jonah’s life, there is no doubt, he thanked God for being part of his life.
The story of the Scriptures is always God’s will is done. In all situations, God hears our voice, we are not left without His help.
We thank You.
Amen in the Name of Jesus.
♔ Lord Jesus Saves! †