Jonah 1:7 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 an Hebrew; and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land.
10 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.
13 Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not: for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous against them.
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 account of Jonah’s life is quite interesting to study. We will see some important truths here. You may see others as well.
In verse 7 the men on this ship believed there was a reason for this severe storm. They believed that one of those on the ship was guilty of something and had caused this storm to come up. They did not know the true God, but they believed in some spiritual power. They were ignorant with regard to the truth, but they were wiser than many today. They understood that the events they were facing were not the result of man-made climate change. They knew there was something beyond human control that was taking place here. They would come to learn some important truths about the true God. Jonah never planned these events. Jonah was living out some rebellion in his life. He never would have dreamed things would go as they would.
God is good. He works within the realm of man’s freewill and works all things for His glory. These sailors cast lots and the lot fell upon Jonah. Now they needed to know what was going on here.
In verse 8 they asked Jonah to tell them what was going on. They wanted to know his occupation, where he came from, they wanted to know of his country and of what people he was from. They assumed they had taken on an innocent passenger earlier, but now they needed more detail about this mystery man.
In verse 9 Jonah had to admit to them who he was. He was a Hebrew. What a sad testimony of God’s design for the Hebrews he was, but nevertheless that is who he was. He now said he feared the LORD. Remember in verse 1 that the LORD had something to say to Jonah. At that point he did not fear the LORD. He assumed he could ignore the LORD’s Word and everything would work out fine. Now he was beginning to see some things about the LORD that he did not want to believe earlier. He further stated that the LORD is the God of heaven. He also stated that it was the LORD that made the sea and the dry land. Jonah was giving these men some important truths that he had no interest in telling them earlier. He also was not interested in telling the Ninevites the truth. God worked things out so that Jonah would see that it would have been the height of foolishness for him to continue to fight against the true God.
In verse 10 we read that these men were exceeding afraid now. They did not know the true God. They had their imaginary gods, but those gods did not have the power that this true God had. Their gods were of their own imaginations and their imaginations were influenced by the devil. The devil is no match for the true God. Now they wanted to know what Jonah had done to bring about this storm that was threatening to take their lives. Jonah had told them that he had run away from the LORD. He had to admit to them the foolishness of his choice. They had been confronted with death because of his sin. They were also given an opportunity to turn to the true God because of his sin. God would want His children to obey Him and serve Him faithfully, but He will use the disobedience of one of His children to get His message out.
We are not learning this to suggest that it is important to disobey God at times. We are looking at this to see that even when His child disobeys, God will be glorified.
In verse 11 these men now wanted to know what they needed to do to Jonah in order for the sea to calm down for them. They knew that something needed to be done to Jonah. They learned that God is a holy and righteous God and that when one of His children disobeys, there will be consequences. We cannot pay for our sins. Jonah was going to give a picture of one important aspect of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jonah needed to be thrown into this raging sea in order for it to calm down. As far as he and those men were concerned, he needed to be put to death.
The Lord Jesus Christ came to this earth to lay down His life for mankind. He came into this raging world of sin and laid down His life and shed His blood so that we could be saved. Jesus would die on that cross and He would rise again the third day. Jesus pointed to the account of Jonah when He was teaching about His sacrificial death.
Matthew12:39 But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:
40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
41 The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.
Back in our text, the men did not want to cast Jonah into the sea. They now knew he was the cause of their trouble, but they also had respect for human life. They were not as vile as the Jews who would demand Jesus be crucified. What they would learn is that you cannot ‘out row’ God. There was no other option that these men could consider.
Likewise, there is no substitute for the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ for our salvation. A person can work as hard as he likes. He can give as much money as he would like. There is only one sacrifice that would please God the Father in relation to man’s sin. That sacrifice was the shed blood and death of His Son.
In verse 14 the men discovered they could not win this battle and they cried unto the LORD. We see their prayer there in that verse. They did not want to be held accountable for this man’s “death”. They understood that God had done what He needed to do in the life of Jonah and also in their lives.
In verse 15 they took up Jonah and cast him into the sea. When they did that, the sea became calm. What an amazing story. This is not a fairy tale. This is a true account that Jesus referred back to. The Jews of Jesus’ day were familiar with this account. There are people today who want to dismiss this as some type of mythology, but it is true.
In verse 16 we see that these men came to see the greatness of the LORD in this event. They now offered a sacrifice unto the LORD. They were done with their false gods. God had shown them that He was the only true God. He was indeed the Creator of heaven and earth. He made the sea and the dry land. These men now made vows to the LORD.
It is important for us to pay attention to the Word of the LORD. He is the Almighty and true God. He loves mankind. He wants to reach out to those that we might think are not worthy. He wants them to know the truth. We do not need to change the message. We need to know the true God and we need to obey His Word. Those who are saved need to have a love for the lost. That love will come through knowing the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord.
As we will see, Jonah did not die at this time. God was in charge of this whole matter. What we will read is a unique account. It is unusual from our perspective, but God is also unique. He can do things that we cannot do.
Ephesians 3:20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.