Most of us know Jonah
as the story about a big fish...
or as some say, "A whale of a tale."
But what has me fascinated today,
is not how a man lived in a fish three days.
But rather, how God used a man
even in his lowest and worst moments
to accomplish great things.
And how He can do the same for us!
For Jonah was a prophet,
called by God, to go to work...
work which he already knew could be hard,
but still called to go
to a place where he despised the people.
In fact, the city of Nineveh,
where God was sending him,
was described as a great city.
Not because God saw it as great.
But because it was great in power,
great in population,
great in wealth,
great in power, and
great in wickedness and sin.
And it was to Jonah
a place that oppressed
and fought against his people.
So Jonah arose and...
followed his feelings, instead
of his calling.
And most of us know the story
of him getting swallowed by the fish
and getting spit out
to get a second chance.
But I want to wiggle in before the fish.
I want to look at the time
when he was on the ship.
That's truly what interests me most.
Because he set sail for a long journey
with a bunch of pagan sailors.
But they don't worship his God,
And he didn't seem to be bothered
by that like he was the people of Nineveh.
I mean, he payed his fare, climbed aboard,
went down into the ship and slept.
And boy, was he was a sound sleeper.
Probably because he'd been up nights
worried about this calling from God.
But now finally, he'd gotten away...
out of the presence of God.
Like we can really run from that!
But then this wind that kicked up,
this storm... well a tempest, actually,
was so bad, that the ship was just about broken.
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.
Jonah 1:5 NKJV
These guys were praying.
All of them!
And throwing stuff overboard
to lighten the load...
not just to lighten the weight of the ship,
but to lighten the load on their mind,
the load on their emotions,
the load their on conscience.
These mariners worshiped pagan gods.
Typically they believed in curses
and punishments for sins against their gods.
But none of their efforts,
none of their prayers,
none of their gods were stopping this storm.
How ironic was it that they needed to
go wake up the only passenger
who probably did the most praying
in his everyday life, but right now
was sleeping through the catastrophe.
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.”
Be considerate... Arise.
God had one more arising call for Jonah.
So the sailors up top now resorted
to casting lots. A gamble as it were
to find out who was to blame for the storm.
And it pointed to Jonah.
Can you imagine the guilt and shame
he's feeling by now?
So he confessed,
His faith, his mission, his running away.
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.
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.
These men had gone
from afraid, to exceedingly afraid!
Increasing as did the storm.
And here is where I always believed
they just threw him off.
since he was the problem.
they should get rid of it.
But they actually tried to continue on.
Brave, noble, good-hearted sailors in the storm.
It was Jonah's idea.
And he said to them,
“Pick me up and throw me into the sea;
then the sea will become calm for you.
For I know that this great tempest
is because of me.”
Jonah, offered himself as a sacrifice
for these men... these pagan men.
they prayed for forgiveness.
Therefore they cried out
to the Lord and said,
“We pray, O Lord, please do not let
us perish for this man’s life,
and do not charge us with innocent blood;
for You, O Lord, have done
as it pleased You.”
So they picked up Jonah
and threw him into the sea,
and the sea ceased from its raging.
Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly,
and offered a sacrifice to the Lord
and took vows.
Do you see it?
A foreshadowing of the salvation
just as Jesus offered?
The sacrificial giving of life,
the raging storms of life calmed,
fear of the Lord,
these vows... now salvation.
And Jonah, swallowed...
by a fish God prepared ahead for him,
safe, entombed in the water three days.
This man Jonah, first running away,
disobedient, angry, fearful.
But God still used him to save the lives
of these sailors on the journey
as he turned Jonah around...
physically, emotionally, spiritually.
I have come to realize...
that we don't live in this bubble
of selfishness, where our problems
are just for the sake of changing us.
Often times, God needs us to share
our problems, our tragedies, our life lessons
with others so they too can see God in them.
We need to be more transparent in life
so that people can transition from fear
to exceedingly great faith
in a God who delivers us from the storm.
Even if it means
admitting that we are on the run from Him.
Word of God,
train me, today...
to live my life in front of others,
knowing even my mistakes can bring You glory,
to arise and go when You call,
being faithful to the interruptions,
no matter where You send me.
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