“Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, ‘Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.’ But Jonah arose 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 down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. But the Lord sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship was about to be broken up.” Jonah 1:1-4.
The first three verses in the above passage have been included to maintain context. Jonah was a prophet to whom God had given a commission.
However, Jonah knowing that the Assyrians were not only a wicked, idolatrous people who treated their prisoners with extreme cruelty, but he also knew they were aggressive enough to attack Israel.
It is for this reason that I view Jonah’s misguided rebellion against God’s commands as an act of patriotism on his part; it was for love of his people that he risked the wrath of God.
“But the Lord sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship was about to be broken up.” Jonah 1:4.
The incredible power of God is shown here as well as His complete sovereignty over the affairs of men.
“Those who go down to the sea in ships, who do business on great waters, they see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep. For He commands and raises the stormy wind, which lifts up the waves of the sea. They mount up to the heavens, they go down again to the depths; their soul melts because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits’ end. Then they cry out to the Lord in their trouble, and He brings them out of their distresses. He calms the storm, so that its waves are still. Then they are glad because they are quiet; so He guides them to their desired haven. Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of Men!” Psalm 107:23-31.
“For I know that the Lord is great, and our Lord is above all gods. Whatever the Lord pleases He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deep places. He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth; He makes lightning for the rain; He brings the wind out of His treasuries.” Psalm 135:5-7.
“The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.” Proverbs 21:1.
Yet for all the power of an omnipotent God, for all His power over nature and men, there is one thing that God would have been powerless to do.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek [Gentile].” Romans 1:16.
Without the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, God would have been powerless to save mankind from sin. Sin was committed against an infinite God which would take an infinite sacrifice to wash away. Jesus Christ, God the Son, was the only one capable of giving the infinite sacrifice of Himself.
“Then the mariners were afraid; and every man cried out to his god, and threw the cargo that was in the ship into the sea, to lighten the load. But Jonah had gone down into the lowest parts of the ship, had lain down, and was fast asleep.” Jonah 1:5.
These experienced seamen were terribly frightened, and each man who may have been of a different nationality from the other called upon his god.
“Thus you shall say to them [Israelites]: ‘The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth and from under these heavens.’ He has made the earth by His power, He has established the world by His wisdom, and has stretched out the heavens at His discretion. When He utters His voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens: ‘And He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth. He makes lightning for the rain, He brings the wind out of His treasuries.’ Everyone is dull-hearted, without knowledge; every metalsmith is put to shame by an image; for his molded image [idol] is falsehood, and there is no breath in them. They are futile, a work of errors; in the time of their punishment they shall perish.” Jeremiah 10:11-15.
“What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything? Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons.” 1 Corinthians 10:19-20.
God in His economy then is revealing Himself to these sailors as the true and living God, Creator of all things, and at the same time bringing Jonah to the end of his rebellious conduct.
Jonah, at this time was fast asleep below. I can only imagine that he undertook his journey to Joppa so quickly that he was exhausted by the time he came on board. The similarity between this incident and another nearly eight hundred years later comes to mind.
“Now when He [Jesus] got into a boat, His disciples followed Him. And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep. Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, ‘Lord, save us! We are perishing!’ But He said to them, ‘Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?’ Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. So the men marveled, saying, ‘Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?’” Matthew 8:23-27.
“So the captain came to him, and said to him, ‘What do you mean, sleeper? Arise, call on your God; perhaps your God will consider us, so that we may not perish.’ And they said to one another, ‘Come, let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this trouble has come upon us.’ So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah.” Jonah 1:6-7.
The ancients knew something that modern man has forgotten; random things do not just happen. There is a reason when Christians go through financial trouble, marital troubles, health problems and the like.
So the question here is, if you are going through a trial of some sort, have you asked God why these things are happening? Is there some hidden sin you are clinging to that has taken you into tempest tossed waters? You must be brutally honest with yourself, lying will only prolong the misery.
“If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” 1 John 1:6-10.
The mariners then cast lots after Jonah had joined them. Casting lots which was often done by putting marked stones in a container and having each person draw one out to find who it was. You can hide from men, but you cannot hide from God, the lot fell on Jonah.
“Then they said to him, ‘Please tell us! For whose cause is this trouble upon us? What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?’ So 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.’” Jonah 1:8-9.
The sailors soon learn that Jonah is the cause of the trouble that had come upon them, and that he was a prophet, he was from Gath-hepher near Nazareth, his country was Israel, and that he was a Hebrew.
Within the country of Israel, the people of Israel called themselves Israelites, however outside the country they referred to themselves as Hebrews, by which name they were known.
Then the mariners receive the chilling news, “I fear the Lord” YHWH, pronounced YAWEH for lack of a better pronunciation, the covenant name of God. Every time you read the word Lord in Jonah chapter one it has been substituted for the name YHWH.
“…I fear YHWH the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” Jonah 1:9b.
“Stand up and bless the Lord [YHWH] your God forever and ever! Blessed be Your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise! You alone are the Lord [YHWH]; You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and everything on it, the seas and all that is in them, and You preserve them all. The host of heaven worships You.” Nehemiah 9:5b-6.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made… And the Word [Jesus] became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:1-3 and 14.
“God who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high…” Hebrews 1:1-3.
It is interesting to see how the full weight of Jonah’s confession fell upon these men. They may have heard of YHWH, but now His exceeding power and sovereignty crushed in upon them.
I wish men could see this today. Actually they do but they give Him names like Mother Nature, and say, “Well, mother nature is lashing out at us today with this category 5 hurricane!”
Things like Mother Nature and evolution and the mythical global warming are Satan’s way of robbing God of His voice among men. As a result, the world is in a horrific tempest, and no one casts lots, questions why, or even opens their Bible.
“Then the men were exceedingly afraid, and said to him, ‘Why have you done this?’ For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them.” Jonah 1:10.
I believe if I were there my response would be, “Are you nuts!” Why would a man disobey the Omnipotent God who created everything, knowingly? Why indeed?
“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” 2 Timothy 3:1-5.
“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind [a mind that does not work], to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.” Romans 1:28-32.
We are indeed in perilous times, the world has become a Nineveh, and the Christian has become a Jonah. This is not a time to run from whatever God has called us to do.
Jonah was called to be a prophet, it was something he had done before and something he was perfectly capable of doing at that time. God will not have you do something you are not fitted for.
Whatever He may call you to do it will fit your personality, whether it is ministering to the housebound or the sick, writing to missionaries, teaching Sunday school, or actually doing some of the things most folks are frightened of, it will be something you are capable of.
Even if you are sick or housebound, you can pray for others who need it, or for those who are on the front lines. Christians should be kind, loving, godly, and knowledgeable in the Scriptures. Christianity is only as hard as we make it by ignoring the Holy Spirit within us.
“Then they said to him, ‘What shall we do to you that the sea may be calm for us?’ – for the sea was growing more tempestuous.” Jonah 1:11.
Verse four earlier said, “…there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship was about to be broken up.” This was the reason they jettisoned the cargo, and called upon their gods in an effort to stop the raging.
Here in verse eleven it says, “…for the sea was growing more tempestuous.” Think of this for a moment, the ship was about to be broken up, and then after perhaps a considerable amount of time things are even worse, what is holding the ship together under this battering?
“[God is speaking to Job from the whirlwind] Can you bind the cluster of the Pleiades, or loose the belt of Orion? Can you bring out Mazzaroth [constellations] in its season? Or can you guide the Great Bear with its cubs? Do you know the ordinances of the heavens? Can you set their dominion over the earth? Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, that an abundance of water may cover you? Can you send out lightnings, that they may go, and say to you, ‘Here we are!’ who has put wisdom in the mind? Or who has given understanding to the heart? Who can number the clouds by wisdom? Or who can pour out the bottles of heaven, when the dust hardens in clumps, and the clods cling together?” Job 38:31-38.
It was God who held the ship together when it should have broken up, and it is God who will be in control when we find ourselves in any crisis.
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.” John 10:27-30.
Jonah 1:4-11 taken from godisrevealed.com
Scripture taken from the New King James version. Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.