Summary: Once the sailors decided to rid their ship of Jonah, a type of sin, they saw first hand the awesome power of God. This awarness of His majesty led them to become believers in Him.
CONSTERNATION CREATED CONVERSION
I. CONSTERNATION: (They Feared Excessively)
II. CELEBRATION: (They Offered a Sacrifice)
III. COVENANTED: (They Made Vows)
It is amazing how our God uses things and events to speak to people about their souls. Sometimes He uses such small things and then at other times He uses great things to reach people about their need for Him. In the study of Jonah, we see where He used a storm, a terrible storm, to reach the sailors who were sailing with Jonah and to help them become converted to Him. Jonah boarded the ship not wanting any Gentiles to believe in God and he left the ship knowing that his time among some Gentiles led to their conversion. We do not know his frame of thought as he went sailing overboard but we do know what these sailors thought when they finally ridded their boat of the sin problem. With Jonah gone, they were now ready to move on with their lives yet God was not through with them and by the time all was done-these hearty sailors came to believe in the God of the Hebrews.
When Jonah went sailing over the sides of the ship, the sailors breathed a heavy sigh of relief. They had tried their best to save the ship by praying to their gods. Then, when they found that Jonah was the reason for the storm, they tried to reach land with him and the rest of the passengers. They had done all they could from praying, jettison the cargo, trying to save Jonah and the ship and all were in vain. The only avenue open for them now was to comply-against their wishes-to throw Jonah overboard and hope that the storm would abate. They did not know if throwing Jonah overboard would save them and still the storm, but they ran out of options and they wee desperate to do all they could to see the storm subside, the waves return to normal and the ship be saved. They gave it the good old “college try” not knowing if this was the answer-getting rid of Jonah. They soon found the answer!
I see three things in this verse about these sailors and their conversion to God. The first thing I note has to do with their great CONSTERNATION-“They feared excessively.” Next, I note the great CELEBRATION-“They offered a sacrifice.” Then, I note the great COVENANT-“They made vows.” I wonder what these sailors must have thought when they saw Jonah hit the water and the sea became calm, the storm stopped and they were safe. We do not know all of the answers, but we do know they were very happy and they began their acceptance of God as being their God.
I. CONSTERNATION: I can only imagine what must have gone through the minds of these sailors as they tossed Jonah overboard. They did not know if this would really work-they tried everything else and now abandoning all protocol, they tossed him over waiting to see what would take place. They did not have to wait too long.
The first thing they had to note when Jonah hit the waves was that there was a general and complete Cessation
of the storm and its effects. Instantly, according to the Bible, the sea became calm and the waves stopped their violent heaving. What they had tried to do on their own was now accomplished by the abandoning of Jonah. One can only imagine what must have raced through the minds of these unconverted sailors as they witnessed a miracle before their very eyes. Earlier, Jonah told these sailors that the God whom he served was the God who created the land and the sea. Now, for the first time, they understood to what he was speaking. It is no wonder that they suddenly feared God excessively. They could not deny nor did they want to deny what they saw-they saw God in action and they feared God and His power. More people need to see God in action and they too would fear Him.
Not only did they see the storm stop instantly, they believed it with their entire hearts-they saw for themselves what the power of God did right before their very eyes. There was a Certainty to what they had just witnessed that no one could ever dislodge from their minds. They saw God in action. People today need to see God in action. Or, better yet, people need to recognize that what they see around them is God in action. When one is certain of what one has seen and or witnessed, it is impossible to erase that from one’s psyche. These sailors saw the Creator God do something out of the ordinary and they were afraid.