Summary: This is the 13th of 31 Devotions from a series called, 'The Church Called Jonah,' where I make a comparison between Jonah and The Church-at-large.

# 13 - The Terrifying Question

Jonah 1:10 – “This terrified them and they asked, “What have you done?” (They knew he was running away from the LORD because he had already told them so.)”

“This terrified them…”

In our last devotion, we saw how Jonah introduced himself to the mariners as a Hebrew who worshipped the Lord - the Lord who made the sea and the dry land. This introduction of Jonah to the mariners was enough to instill fear in them. Let’s look at other possible reasons for this fear.

Did the fact that he was a Hebrew itself say enough to them, as the Hebrews were known as God’s chosen people, who had been delivered by the Lord Himself, from the land of Egypt and who had led them through the years in amazing ways like no other nation had been led? Or were they terrified of the God of the Hebrews as they had heard that He was powerful and had destroyed nations on their behalf? Or were they afraid because of the words of Jonah, who said that He worshipped the God who had created the sea and the dry land, which means that if He had created the sea, then this storm was sent by Him, and if that was the case, then there was nothing they could do to get themselves out of this situation.

When the world around looks at us, The Church, what emotions and thoughts well up inside them? Are they instilled by fear of the true God we worship, are they drawn to Him as the God of love, on account of the love we share with them? Do they admire his holiness based on the lives we lead? Do they scorn us for claiming to worship a God whom we’ve never seen? Do they belittle us for beliefs that seem so foolish in their eyes? Do they persecute us because they think we are a threat to them? Or do they just ignore us like we never existed since we are no longer relevant to them in any way?

Whatever the attitude of the world has been to the church until now, this pandemic is changing things big time across the globe. The world is beginning to search for the truth, and in that process are being led to us, The Church with questions, for support, for encouragement, for hope, comfort, and more. Will they come to us with questions, just like the mariners were led to Jonah with questions? When they interact with us, what will be the response they receive from us concerning these turbulent times? Our response to them determines whether or not they are led into the Kingdom or led further away. It’s really important that we, The Church take every opportunity during these trying times to share the love of God, and the gospel of Jesus with our non-Christian friends and families, and do all we can to lead them to Christ so their lives are transformed both for here and for eternity.

(They knew he was running away from the LORD because he had already told them so.)”

It says that Jonah had also told them that he was running away from the Lord, and so it was obvious to the mariners that God was now catching up with Jonah and that they were now in the middle of this life-threatening scene. I wonder at the possible thoughts racing through their minds at this time. Perhaps they were thinking, “If the God of the Hebrews is expressing His anger against one man whom He sent on a mission to take his message of warning to a nation, what would the end be for us who don’t know God, and the quality of whose lives could be no better than the people of Nineveh?” If God would not spare His own prophet who rebelled against Him, how can we stand against Him? This reminds us of Proverbs 11:31, which says, “If the righteous will be recompensed on the earth, how much more the ungodly and the sinner.” A similar rendering of this verse is found in 1 Peter 4:17,18, “For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? If the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?” I’m sure this was another cause for the terror that the mariners were now gripped with – a fear of the God of the Hebrews who was at work right in their midst.

When I look at this pandemic, and the way it sneaked up on the world, without even one Christian having an inkling of its arrival, I wonder whether this was sent by the Lord Himself to wake up The Church and shake up The Church across the globe. Is the Lord getting our attention and warning us that if we don’t do what we’ve been called to do, we will end up in a far worse state than we were before we were saved? It’s my own wonderings about these turbulent times.

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