Summary: This devotion is about the calm that came upon the sea after the sailors threw Jonah into the sea. This is the 18th of 31 devotions in a series called 'The Church Called Jonah.'
# 18 – The Mighty Calm
Jonah 1:15-16 – “Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. At this the men greatly feared the LORD, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows to him.”
“Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard…”
We’ve already seen how hesitant the sailors were to follow Jonah’s advice to throw him into the sea so that the sea would become calm for them. They instead tried desperately to row to shore, but the sea grew more tempestuous. These sailors seemed to be kind men who, though were willing to dispose of their cargo in the sea, were hesitant to take a man’s life to save their own lives. But when they were making no headway, they eventually decided to follow Jonah’s advice. In our previous devotion, we saw how they prayed to the Lord, asking that He not hold it against them for taking the life of an innocent man.
But now they go ahead with their decision, take Jonah and throw him overboard into the raging waters. That was perhaps something they would never have done in all their years as sailors. It didn’t even sound reasonable – how could throwing one man overboard calm a raging sea?
In our world today, people sometimes find it easier to dispose of people for the sake of gaining wealth for themselves and sadly, even if it means disposing of their own loved ones. That’s the sad state of affairs of the world we live in.
What about us The Church? What do we value in life? Do we value people over things or things over people? That’s a question each of us must ask ourselves, and honestly answer. One thing is very clear about the God we worship – for Him, people matter far more than things. He was willing to sacrifice His own Son to save us from a lost eternity.
An often-overlooked story from the times when Jesus walked the earth, is when He went to the country of the Gadarenes and delivered a man from demon-possession. We are familiar with that story, but if we look deeper into that story, we’ll find a big difference between what man values, and what God values. Jesus was willing to let the owner of the pigs lose several hundred thousand rupees (or dollars etc.) to save one man, whom no one considered of any earthly value, while the keepers of the pigs and the people of the town had so much value for the money they had lost, that they asked Jesus to leave their region immediately. That’s a little glimpse of what we as humans hold dear to our hearts and what God holds dear to His heart.
Getting rid of Jonah from the ship brings to mind another incident from the times of the Exodus of the Israelites, in Joshua Chapter 7 when Achan, had disobeyed God and taken and hidden some of the spoil (a robe, silver and gold) from the defeat at Jericho. He was responsible for a defeat the Israelites immediately suffered in the battle at Ai, and he had to be killed along with his entire family so that the rest of the people didn’t suffer further.
Like Jonah was responsible for the tempest, are we The Church responsible for this pandemic that both we are the world are experiencing? Have we become so consumed with things, going so far as to believe that Godliness is a means to financial gain? This is in total contrast to Paul’s teaching in 1 Timothy 6:5, where he taught against such thinking. If this is the condition of us The Church, then perhaps we are in danger of being disposed of, for a period so as to bring a calm to the world around and also to lead us to repentance – to God and to our call to take His word to the world.
“…And the raging sea grew calm…”
When they threw Jonah into the sea, something amazing happened. The raging sea that caused immense fear of death, anxiety, loss of cargo, and even threatened the structure of the ship was suddenly as calm as if there had been no storm. The words, “the sea grew calm,” doesn’t just indicate that the winds died down, but says a lot more. It says that the raging waves caused by the winds also calmed down. It’s not an easy thing to bring a calm to raging waters. Even if the winds ceased immediately, the raging would continue for a while, but here we find that the sea grew calm immediately – indicating that the calming of the sea was an act of God Himself. Does this not remind us of the times when Jesus calmed storms, thereby proving to His disciples that He was indeed God, and had control over nature?