UPDATE: This post was my first impression while reading Jonah. My 3-point sermon, after revising this post, is called Lessons from Jonah.
So I was reading Jonah yesterday. Despite Veggie Tales getting a 2-hour feature film out it, there’s actually very little material. The entire book is only four chapters, and one of those is really short. Okay, here’s what I noticed.
You never hear about the sailors on the ship. You get a lot of sermons about listening to God’s instructions, and maybe a few stories on how God always gets what he wants so there’s no point in arguing with him. But are we in so much of a hurry to get in the belly of the whale we can’t pause and notice what happens on the ship?
In the Jonah 1 he boards a ship and sails for Tarshish, the “end of the world” as far as the people of his time were concerned. As the wind and seas picked up, the men on board began praying to many different gods. They woke Jonah and encouraged him to pray to his God. After realizing they could not escape – they did try, fearing what would happen if they killed Jonah – they finally threw him overboard to save themselves. They had already tossed their cargo in an attempt to lighten their load. After Jonah was gone, and the storm calmed, those men feared the Lord and offered sacrifices. Let’s consider the motives for their actions.
They had already tossed their cargo, so saving their lives ranked higher than making a profit. After the lot fell on Jonah they rowed even harder for land, trying to save his life after the reason for the storm was reveled. They asked forgiveness for tossing him over, fearing what would happen to them if they murdered God’s prophet. But then the storm stopped. They could have continued on their way but now feared the Lord. Proverbs says that fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. They then offered sacrifices.
Jonah would go on to preach to all of Nineveh, and of course there was a great revival there. But knowing what we do about God’s will and all things working together for good (Rom 8:28) such as we do, his being on that ship with those particular men cannot be a coincidence.