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Eternity 37 - Jonah Causes The Storm At Sea
Jonah 1:4-10 ASV But Jehovah sent out a great wind upon the sea, and
there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken.
(5) Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god; and
they cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten
it unto them. But Jonah was gone down into the innermost parts of the ship;
and he lay, and was fast asleep. (6) So the shipmaster came to him, and
said unto him, What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if
so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not. (7) And they said
every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for
whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon
Jonah. (8) Then said they unto him, Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause
this evil is upon us; what is thine occupation? and whence comest thou?
what is thy country? and of what people art thou? (9) And he said unto them,
I am a Hebrew; and I fear Jehovah, the God of heaven, who hath made the
sea and the dry land. (10) Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said
unto him, What is this that thou hast done? For the men knew that he was
fleeing from the presence of Jehovah, because he had told them.
The servant of God, fleeing from his calling, becomes a cause of trouble for all around him. Jonah flees from God, pays his fare (Jon 1:3), goes deep down into the interior of the ship and promptly falls soundly asleep.
Meanwhile those around him are embroiled in a life-threatening storm, the cargo is thrown overboard, their prosperity is ruined, the purpose of their trip made null and void. Jonah sleeps on oblivious and uncaring.
There was something so malevolent about the storm that the sailors recognized a divine hand behind it, a wrathful god. They cried to their gods to no avail. Then they cast lots to see whose fault the storm was.
A god was angry, someone must have made this god angry, and now it was
up the god to indicate who was to blame. And the lot, quite accurately,
fell to Jonah.
When Jonah is questioned about his country, his god and his religion he replies succinctly: "I am a Hebrew; and I fear Jehovah, the God of heaven, who hath made the sea and the dry land." This description of God is the basic description of God used throughout the Bible and is the "eternal gospel" in Revelation (Rev 14:6,7).
This description of God as the God of heaven who created the entire natural order is the basic biblical truth. The Bible opens with "in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" and it is "that God" - the one who created everything, that we are to worship.
Therefore disobeying such a god is a serious matter, a matter of life and
death - so that the sailors reaction is one of fear: "Then were
the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him, What is this that thou hast
done? For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of Jehovah,
because he had told them. "
In other words the sailors were saying "How could you be so spiritually irresponsible as to mess with such a powerful God?".
In the classical pagan traditions of the Odyssey, the Iliad and the Aeneid, the angry god would pursue the offender across land and sea turning the world around that person into chaos until the god was placated or the offender was suitably punished.
Jonah had brought the wrath of the high God, the creator of heaven and earth, down on their ship and their cargo in the form of a violent storm. Jonah did not dispute this interpretation and as we shall see later requested to be thrown overboard - as the means of placating Jehovah - and this extraordinary tactic worked and the sea became still.
Jonah was being personally "chased" by the God that controlled
the wind, the waves and the natural elements and this God was using them
to express his disapproval in a most unmistakable way.
The Scriptures tell us that disobedient Jonah was the cause of the disaster - and disobedient servants of God can be a cause of disaster still.
Many of the most bitter and troublesome people in churches are those that have run away from call of God on their life. Someone has observed that many of the church gossips he has met were, in reality, disobedient evangelists, who have turned to telling bad news instead of good news.
Also there are those whose life is a "storm" because they will do everything except go into Christian service. They try and set themselves up with prosperity instead and lurch from financial disaster to job loss to disease and even sometimes death.
Ananias and Sapphira felt God's call to sell land and give to the poor (Acts 5:1-11) but decided to lie to the Church en route - and paid for it with their lives.
If your life is stormy - check to see if you are being disobedient to
a clear call and command of God.