Jonah 1:3-4 says, “3 But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord and went down to Joppa, and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.4 But the Lord sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea so that the ship was like to be broken.”
Jonah had forsaken the Lord, resigning from his ministry as a prophet in Israel or anywhere else. Jonah has left friends and family. He had openly refused to obey God. Although Jonah had left God, God had not left Jonah
Why didn’t God find someone else? God didn't want someone else; God called Jonah. God was dealing with Jonah. Who caused the Storm? God did. Whose fault that there’s a storm? Jonah’s fault. Most of the time people blame God for the storms that arise in their lives. When there’s a storm in your life, you are the reason for the storm. It’s not always because you are running from God, sometimes it’s because you are running to God. Storms come to make or break us.
Whether the storms come from God, or the Devil it is for the same purpose, to make or break you. The devil can’t do anything unless the Lord allows him. Although the devil plans are to break you, destroy you if he could, but he can’t. God wants to break you too. Our Heavenly Father want's us pliable and yielded to His will. God wants to break off all rebellion, unforgiveness, fear, doubt, self-righteousness, etc. He wants to make you righteous, fearless, compassionate, forgiving, faithful, etc. Our Heavenly Father is not just our deliverer, but also our Healer. The thing we react instead of respond as in a defensive mode is an indication of an unhealed wound, which God wants to heal.
Jonah 1:4 “4 But the Lord sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea so that the ship was like to be broken.”
It’s not the ship God wanted to break, but Jonah’s defiant, stubbornness, pride and lack of compassion. If we look to Jonah on how we should respond during a storm, we are looking to the wrong person; Jonah is not someone you want to follow nor emulate. In this story, we see that God is a merciful, faithful and loving God. He cares for us even when we disobey him; he loves us even when we sin. He protects us even when we're running away from his Presence.
In this biblical account it isn’t so-called self-righteous Jonah, but the heathens, sinners that have the right response. They prayed to their gods to stop the storm, which never works, they told Jonah to do the same. He didn’t. Instead, Jonah’s responds by saying, in verse 9 “I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land.”
Jonah like so many others didn’t fear God. If Jonah feared God, he would have obeyed him.
In verse 10 we read, “Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him. Why hast thou done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the Lord because he had told them.”
“11 Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? for the sea wrought and was tempestuous.”
“12 And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you.” Throw me overboard? Instead of let's pray. Jonah knew that the storm was because of him because he said,” for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you.”
14 "Wherefore they cried unto the Lord, and said, We beseech thee, O Lord, we beseech thee, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not upon us innocent blood: for thou, O Lord, hast done as it pleased thee.”
15 "So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging. 16 Then the men feared
the Lord exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the Lord, and made vows.”
The heathens prayed to Jonah’s God and made sacrifices to the Lord, and they made vows unto the Lord. Another word they repented and got right with God.
Jesus had said, that he came to save sinner not the righteous. So what is Jonah doing? Drowning in a sea of regret, but not repenting. We can be sorry for what we have or have not done, but remorse or guilt is not repentance.
Even after this storm, Jonah doesn’t repent. God in his Mercy prepared a fish just for Jonah. Some would look at that fish as punishment, but in reality, it kept him from drowning and from dangerous prey. To Jonah it was a prison, a living hell, but to God it was Jonah’s covering and protection. It’s amazing how the very thing we run from, the things we fear or reject are sometimes the very things that we should embrace, like trials and tribulations, storms and separation, deserts and wilderness, letting go and holding on, being still and change.
Verse 17 says "Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.”
Jonah was in total darkness, a prelude to hell. Jonah wanted to run from the presence of God; he wanted to separate himself from the will of God. Separated from God, is hell. There is total darkness, fear, no peace, no joy. Jonah got a taste of what it’s like being separated from God for only three days; I can’t imagine what it’s like for those who reject Jesus as their Savior and spend eternity in Hell.
The people on Jonah’s ship could have gone back to their false idols, and immorality after throwing Jonah overboard, but they didn’t. It wasn’t Jonah who left them with a lasting impression; it was God! They had to reason that If God is in control of the sea and the storm, what else is He in control of?
Jonah 2:1 says, after three days and nights Jonah prays. It took Jonah three days and night in complete darkness to realize he was not only wrong but needed God. Jonah finally prays. Most people would have prayed on the ship, and definitely when they saw a great fish coming for them.
What was Jonah doing for three days? He was probably looking for a way out, or perhaps he just gave up and was waiting to die, instead of praying to live. Jonah could have been waiting for God to do something like delivering him, but God was waiting for him to ask for deliverance, not just from the fish but his rebellious and prideful condition. It wasn’t just the fish Jonah needed deliverance from, and that also applies to us. It's not the storm God want’s to change, after all, He allowed it. God wants to change us.
Jonah concluded his prayer by acknowledging in chapter 2:9 “Salvation is of the Lord.” …To be Continued