The Lord told Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach. Jonah didn’t want to do it so he tried to run away. It doesn’t matter if we’re running from what the Lord wants us to do or if we’re running from the life the Lord wants us to live or running from the person the Lord wants us to be. The point is that running away from the Lord, running from what we know in our hearts is the truth, causes all kinds of turmoil in our lives and in the lives of people we love and care about very deeply.
When the storm began and the sailors realized it was much worse than any storm they had ever been in before, they started crying out to their gods and throwing the cargo overboard; trying to do everything they could think of to make it stop. Jonah was asleep below deck. He was in a dangerous state of denial, completely oblivious to the trouble he. had caused. Everybody else was frantically trying to solve his problem for him.
Nothing the crew tried to do was going to make any difference. The storm wasn’t their fault. It was Jonah’s. Jonah was the reason the ship was in that storm. Nothing was going to change until Jonah stopped running from the Lord and surrendered his life to Him.
But, instead of throwing Jonah overboard when he was crying out for help; instead of doing what had to be done, they tried to row back to shore. But there was no other way to stop the storm. Things had to change. Jonah had to change. They had to let him go. They had to throw him in.
Jonah 1:15 “Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm.”
The last time anyone on that ship saw Jonah, he was sinking into the sea and they’re all pretty sure he’s dead. I guess, in a way, you could say he WAS dead. The old Jonah, the rebellious, stubborn, have-to-have-my-own-way Jonah died in the sea that day. By the time this is all over, by the time Jonah gets back on dry land, he’s going to be a totally different person; a transformed, a re-born person, a brand new creation. When he gets back on land to serve the Lord, he won’t look anything like the man who got on the ship to run away from the Lord.
Everyone on the ship, the people he was sailing with and hanging out with, his old friends, only saw him hit the water. They only saw him at his worst, at his lowest. They never got to see him after he got saved.
Jonah 1:16 “At this the men greatly feared the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to Him.”
The fear of the Lord is the first sign of wisdom. It’s easier to accept the love of a gracious God who saves you after you’ve met the holy God who refuses to tolerate sin. It’s easier to accept the Savior when you realize you’re a sinner who needs to be saved. Let’s see what happened to Jonah when someone found the courage to do what needed to be done. What happened to Jonah after he received a hefty dose of tough love?
Jonah 1:17 “But the Lord provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish for three days and three nights.”
When Jonah finally hit bottom, when things were at their worst and he had sunk as low as he could go, when everyone else had given up on him and Jonah was all alone, the Lord was there for him. The Lord was there to save him. The Lord provided a place for him. The Lord did not leave him or forsake him. No matter where Jonah tried to make his bed, the Lord was there. He’s always there for us because He has a plan and a purpose for our lives.
Lord willing, we’ll talk more about Jonah’s adventure next Tuesday. Thanks for staying in God’s Word with Pastor Buj.