I Think I Know Why This Is Happening (Jonah 1)
There is no more miserable place in life for a Christian to be than running from God and the things He has called us to do. When you turn away from God there is no protection from the devil, there are no messages or comfort from God, there is no peace of mind, and there is no joy or strength from the Lord.
While Jonah probably thought he';d gotten away with something — and away from God — it wasn';t long before his sin and rebellion caught up with him. He had purchased a ticket to a place called Tarshish and boarded the boat. He was sleeping soundly in the ship';s hold when he was awakened by the terrified and panicked cry of the ship';s captain: “‘How can you sleep at a time like this?'; he shouted. ‘Get up and pray to your god! Maybe he will pay attention to us and spare our lives';” (Jonah 1:6).
Jonah really believed he could run from God, and he probably wondered if God knew where he was when he ended up in the belly of the fish. But David the psalmist wrote that it was impossible to hide from God: “I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence!” (Psalm 139:7).
This was no ordinary storm that had struck. It was a storm sent specifically from God (Jonah 1:4) so that He could pull His prophet back to a life of obedience, and it was so violent that it threatened to rip the ship in half. Even the weather-hardened, sea-wise sailors who ran the ship were so afraid they were going to die that they started tossing cargo overboard.
Jonah informed the ship';s crew that he was a Hebrew who worshipped the true and living Creator God and that he was on the ship because he was running from God. That, he said, was why they were in the predicament they were in. When they asked Jonah what they should do, he told them very directly and simply: “Throw me overboard” (Jonah 1:12).
But instead of getting rid of the cargo that was causing the problem — Jonah himself — the sailors tried harder to get the ship under control and back to port. When they found that they were helpless against the storm';s fury, they threw Jonah overboard and down into the sea.
Just as Jonah had said, the storm ceased immediately and the ship';s crew was safe. Jonah, however, had another problem to deal with.
How did the sailors respond when Jonah told them that he was a Jewish prophet and probably responsible for what they were enduring?
What happened in the hearts of those sailors after they threw Jonah overboard?