Summary: Jonah serves as a type of sin in the passage before us. This verse reveals how the sailors decided to deal with the issue of sin and what happened following their actions to rid the vessel of all impediments.
CLEANSING CORRUPTION CREATES CALMNESS
The sailors have now, at last, come to the realization that their only hope for survival was to rid the boat of Jonah. Speaking from a human viewpoint, these seasoned men of the sea had done all they could to save every passenger on this ship, but reality dictated that specific action had to be taken to save the ship and the passengers.
Again, I have to commend these hardy men for their patience and for their endurance. For men who knew not the God of the Hebrews when this voyage began, these men came to worship this God and to become believers in Him. Even though Jonah disobeyed God and did not go to Nineveh at first but bordered this ship, his influence and testimony helped set the stage for these men’s ultimate conversion to God. It is amazing how God can make all circumstances work to His glory. God’s message and messenger arrived at Nineveh and were met with great success; however, along the way, Jonah’s journey with these sailors helped to convert them to God. We do not know the final results of these sailors. With the closing of chapter one, these men fade from the narrative and Jonah writes about what happened to him as he finally obeys God. Even though we do not have any more record of these men and what happened to them, we do know that God knows and this is all that really matters in the final count of life’s living.
As I study this verse before me, I see where it divides into three parts-each with a great significance in this story of Jonah and its impact on the lives of those he met so long ago.
The first part of this verse, “So they took up Jonah,” relates to what I feel is the CRISIS these men faced that day with Jonah on board. I also view this first part as relating Jonah to sin and what these men did to rid their bark of this heinous affront to God. The second part of this verse, “…and cast him overboard into the sea” has to do with these men CLEANSING the sin from their midst both on a corporate and a personal level. The last part of this verse, “and the sea ceased from her raging” speaks of the CALMNESS that resulted from the cleansing of the sin which was with them. Hence, this verse speaks to me of doing away with the problem of sin-its tempests, storms, and consternations-and the peace-contentment, calmness, and serenity-that comes in its place.
I. CRISIS: The sailors now arrived at a crossroad of which, one route had to be taken over the other. The situation was dire and the need for action was now. There were to be no more delays. With all of their kindness and unwillingness to harm any passenger, especially this one who believed in God, they had to act fast. They knew that all of their actions were now very limited and they had a problem which demanded an action. Such is the type of Sin in one’s life. One can try to mollify it as long as one can, but when the reality of its awfulness is revealed-actions have to be taken to rid it from one’s life or to allow it to drag one down into Hell, itself.
For the first time-it appears-from the text, these men gave Credence to the fact that Jonah, a type of sin at this point due to his rebellion, was the problem. These men had skirted the issue of just what to do with Jonah and for the most part-they did nothing. Now, they came to believe that Jonah was the problem and he had to be dealt with a firm hand. When sin rears its ugly head, one has to believe that it is sin and not a “quirk” of human nature, but sin, sin and still sin.
We are so busy, in today’s world, to dress up sin as something that can be talked away with trained counselors, yet that will not solve the sin issue. There is nothing wrong in talking with a good Christian counselor, but talking about something which is in reality sin, will never be solved-it has to be cast overboard. Medicine, holidays, getting off by one self, wholesome therapy, self-help plans and actions are good in their places but they cannot rid the sin of one’s heart. When sin is recognized with all of its rebellion-it has to be expunged from the heart by the grace of God. These sailors, realized the real situation-rebellion-and finally accepted Jonah for who he really was-a type of hindrance, a sin-if you please-and he had to be cast overboard.