Jonah: chapters 1-3
“The word of the Lord came to Jonah,”saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh that great city, and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before me.” Jonah, a Hebrew, was being called to go to a Gentile nation, to call them to repentance. This must have been so against everything that Jonah knew. Was Jonah prejudiced against the gentiles? Yes, as were all Jews, they were the chosen ones of God and were told in the Torah to keep themselves pure, and separated. So Jonah arose and went the other way to the port city of Joppa to catch a ride on a boat to Tarshish, most likely the island city of Tyre, Isaiah 23.1, which was still in the provinces of the Jews.
To be succinct, a storm arose, Jonah was thrown into the sea, a fish created by God swallowed Jonah, Jonah finally cries out to God, the fish spits him up onto dry ground, the word of God comes to Jonah a second time, Jonah obeys God and goes to that great city, he cries out that destruction is coming, the city repents from the greatest to the least, and God relents from destroying the city.
Our concern today is the sailors on the ship going to Tarshish. A great wind arises while in the Mediterranean Sea and the storm is about to break up the ship. The sailors fear for their lives all crying out to their gods, while throwing the cargo overboard to lighten the load, fear has everyone in it’s grip. Except Jonah, he is sleeping through all this chaos, calm as a sleeping cat. Scurrying about, in full panic mode trying everything they could the captain finds Jonah, gently nudges him, and says, “Awake, O sleeper! Call upon your God! We have tried everything we know, our gods don’t hear us, maybe your God will be concerned about us so that we will not perish.”
Maybe? Maybe your God, the great I Am, Yahweh, Elohim, Jehovah, Adonnai, the Creator of this world, the Deliverer of Israel from the Egyptians, the Redeemer of mankind, the Sustainer of all life, maybe He is concerned about us? A more pure and simple question could never have been asked. Yes, a resounding yes! In fact and deed Jehovah did care about those men, He calmed the sea, He spared their lives!
In Mark 9.22 a similar question was asked by a man whose boy was demon possessed, ” if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us,” and again yes, Jesus could do something for the boy, and did cast that demon out.
John 3.16 ” For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life,” tells of God’s concern for mankind, He was the one who was sending the Israeli prophet Jonah to the gentile nation where Nineveh was the capital city, and when His word reached their ears they heeded His call and repented.
Like the sailors who knew nothing about the God of the Hebrews, and the father of the child who didn’t even know what to ask Jesus for, we too sometimes limit ourselves in our relationship with God because of ignorance of what to ask Him for or what He is capable of accomplishing in our lives. The scriptures truly reveal all there is to know about our Savior, but we need to act in faith upon that knowledge. When the sailors acted by throwing Jonah overboard, the winds stopped, and when the father declared his belief in Jesus, his son was healed.
John 4. 41, ” It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.”