Summary: This morning, we are going to see a prophet try to run away from God. And we will see God pursue Jonah with a storm. At the end of this section, the story gets a bit fishy.
In the Storm (Jonah 1:4-17)
Pastor Jefferson M. Williams
Chenoa Baptist Church
A Whale of a Storm
This past week, Hurricane Dorian slammed into the Bahamas as a category 5 storm. Then it stalled. It just sat still over the Bahamas for more than. 24 hours as hurricane force winds, rains, and storm surge devastated the island.
One storm hunter said that it looks like a nuclear bomb went off.
Dorian was a historic hurricane. This morning, we are going to study a storm that made Dorian look like a spring thunderstorm.
I am Jonah
Last week, we began our series on the Old Testament book of Jonah. I would encourage you to visit our FB page or our website and watch that sermon.
In the first three verses, God told Jonah to go to Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian empire and give them a chance to repent from their brutality.
God said go. Jonah said no! Instead of going to Nineveh, which was NW of Israel, he boarded a ship bound for Tarshish, which was 2,500 miles east of Israel.
Why? Because he understood that this could be a suicide mission. And…he just didn’t want the people of Nineveh to have a chance to experience God’s forgiveness. He was judgmental, racist, hard headed, and disobedient to God.
This morning, we are going to see a prophet try to run away from God. And we will see God pursue Jonah with a storm. At the end of this section, the story gets a bit fishy.
Remember the big idea of Jonah:
God is a God of extravagant grace, especially to those who deserve it least.
Turn to Jonah 2.
“Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship.” (Jonah 1:4-5a)
Jonah had this crazy idea that he could run from the presence of the Lord. God had to get Jonah’s attention. So God “hurled” a storm at him. The word used for throwing a javelin. The wind and the waves obeyed God but not Jonah.
The storm was so violent that even the ship threatened to break up. It’s as if the ship was even saying “I’ve had enough!”
The sailors were seasoned mariners who had been in many storms but the recognized this storm was different. It was supernatural.
They were afraid and began to call out to their gods. Most nations were polytheistic, which means that they worshipped many gods.
Think of those as cell towers. They were hoping that they were “in range” of one of the gods so that god could save them.
The storm was so bad, they started hurling the cargo overboard. If there was going to be a hurling contest, God was going to win.
That was their profits. While the sailors were throwing their profits overboard, God’s prophet was sound asleep down below.
A Deep Sleep
“But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep. The captain went to him and said, “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us so that we will not perish.” (Jonah 1:5b-6)
I got on the plane in Harrisburg, Penn and we taxi’d out onto the tarmac. I looked out the window and saw this storm approaching. There was rotation in the clouds and it was coming quickly. It began to rain and then I couldn’t see out the window. Then hail started bouncing off the wing. Then the plane started to rock back and forth. Even the flight attendant sat down. It was intense.
But in the row next to me, a guy was sound asleep! He never woke up, even when the plane started to move.
The rain finally moved on but a guy on my flight told that he flew a lot and he had never experienced anything like that.
I was scared. But the guy across from me slept through the whole thing!
The pagan captain comes down to where Jonah is sleeping and says the same thing God said to him, “Arise!”
The pagan captain says to the prophet, “I think now would be a good time for you to pray!”
He understands that without divine intervention, they were all going to die.
One quick point - sin will lull you to sleep…even in the midst of a storm!
The God of the Sea
“Then the sailors said to each other, “Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity.” They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah. So they asked him, “Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What kind of work do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?” He answered, “I am a Hebrew and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.”