This is part ONE of a three part series on the book of Jonah. Every Thursday, the next part will be posted!
Jonah 1:1-2, “Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.”
Jonah was a prophet. Jonah was a “religious” guy. Modern equivalent would be a pastor, or a missionary.
Throughout the book, we see the picture of a man who hears God speak, who knows God’s character, but refuses to respond to or reflect God.
God spoke to Jonah. The Word of The Lord came to Jonah. Don’t ignore that.
God still speaks today.
Nineveh – Capital of Assyria. Wicked city. “City of Blood” (Nahum 3)
They would kill people by peeling off their skin while they were still alive.
God is going to judge them. He sends Jonah to warn them, give them a chance to repent.
God gives a chance to repent.
Jonah 1:3, “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 down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the LORD.”
Jonah is a very passionate person, he is going to do something. He’s not a sit around and wait and see kind of guy. God told Jonah to go to Nineveh, Jonah went the oppisite direction.
Jonah didn’t just stay home and disobey God. Jonah ran from what God asked.
Jonah knew what God said, and intentionally acted agaisnt it. Jonah was running from God’s calling on His life.
Jonah 1:4-6, “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. 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. 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.”
Jonah is on his way to Tarshish. He thinnks that he has “escaped” God, but God has been following him the whole way.
There is a big storm, so big that the professional sailors on board are fearing for their lives. They all think that they are going to die.
But Jonah isn’t too concerned, he’s actually asleep. Jonah is the only one with a solution to this problem, but he’s completely disregarding God’s calling.
Don’t be a sleeping Christian in a dying world.
Every Christian has a calling on their life. That calling is to be an active part of God’s Kingdom, to reach the lost with the good news of Jesus Christ. Don’t be Jonah. Don’t disregard that calling.
At this point in the story, the captian of the ship is closer to God than Jonah. He doesn’t understand yet, but he realizes that they need God’s help.
Remember that Jonah is a “religious” person? Here the world is doing better than he is! It’s a sad day when the world is better at seeking God than God’s own people are. Jonah should have been setting the example.
Jonah 1:7-8, “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. 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?”
So they all get together, they’ve thrown everything that wasn’t needed off of the ship. The storm is still too bad. They know that if it keeps up, they won’t make it. They’ve come to the conclusion that this storm is someone’s fault. Storms this bad don’t happen on their own.
They’re right. It’s important to notice that they don’t blame God for the storm. They know that God has caused the storm, but they realize that it’s because of one of them.
Don’t blame God for your storms, seek God in your storms.
You had probably already guessed it, but the lots point to Jonah. The whole boat is now looking at him, asking him questions. They’re trying to get some background to figure out what he did.
Jonah 1:9-10, “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. 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.”
Jonah tells them who he is, and that’ he’s running away from God.
Kind of interesting… Now that Jonah is in trouble, he fears God. When he was safe and sound, he didn’t.
Don’t wait until you see danger to put your trust in God.
Jonah wouldn’t be in this situation if his trust had been in God at the beginning.
Jonah acknowledges that he is running away from God. It probably sounded really dumb when he said it, but he admitted his sin. Part of Jonah coming to God was admitting that he didn’t have it all right. Part of us coming to God means admitting that we don’t have it all right.
Jonah 1:11-15, “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. 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.” Nevertheless, the men rowed hard to get back to dry land, but they could not, for the sea grew more and more tempestuous against them. 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.” So they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging.”
The sailors know that something needs to happen to make the storm end. Kind of funny, Jonah’s first response is “Throw me overboard!”
Forget logic and reasoning, “Throw me off the boat.”
Wait what? That sounds more like a last resort.
The men around Jonah try to reason with him, they want to row back to shore.
The response of these men shows the heart of the world. They want to do it themselves.
Eventually they realize that they are getting nowhere, so they throw Jonah overboard.
Guess what? It works. The storm calms, and the men are safe.
This makes me think of another storm that we see in the New Testament.
In Mark 4, all of the Apostles are in a boat with Jesus, and there is a storm that seems like it’s going to kill them. Jesus calms that storm with three simple words.
“Peace, be still.”
Jesus has the power over the storms in our lives, but we have to let go and let Him take that control. We can’t command storms to cease, but in the storm we can cling to the one who can.
This part of our series ends here in Jonah 1:16, “Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows.”
The result of this whole adventure, the crew of the ship gets saved. Making vows meant that they were setting themselves apart for God. The beginning of a relationship with God.
This story is a great example of how God uses everything together for good (Romans 8:28)
Jonah was running from God, completely in disobedience, and God used it to save a crew of sailors.
Next week we’ll look at Jonah in the belly of a great fish. The whole storm could have been avoided, and Jonah wouldn’t have been eaten if he had just obeyed God. Some storms in life will come no matter what, some storms we bring on ourselves through disobedience.
Stick close to Jesus, and He will bring you through every storm. But don’t put yourself through extra storms because you don’t feel like doing what God has called you to.
Our lives can end up looking a lot like Jonah’s. Maybe we haven’t been eaten by a fish, but I’m pretty sure that a lot of us have decided not to do something that God has called us to do, or we’ve avoided God until the storm is so bad that we can’t go on.
Don’t wait for the storm to get that bad. You can throw your whole life overboard, and wait until you’re the only thing left, or you can run to Jesus today, and let Him speak “Peace, be still” over your storm and over your heart.