Summary: Jonah 1:3 and 4 present quite a contrast. In Verse three it is all "man" man flees from God, man sails the ship, man has no place for God. In verse four, the table is turned and it is all God. God seeks man; He sends the storm; and, in the end-God wins.
CRAFTY CLERGYMAN CHALLENGES COMPASSIONATE CREATOR
Jonah is safely on board the ship and he feels enough at ease to descend down into the hold to find a good spot for a long nap. He has successfully made it to Joppa; he has found his vessel; he has paid his fare; and, now he is ready to take a long repose from his plan to avoid going to Nineveh. This thing of fleeing from God must be exhausting and he needed time to refresh himself and restore his depleted energy. He would need all of his renewed energy to continue his flight from God, once he landed at Tarshish. How much better could life be for this renegade clergyman? He was certainly a crafty clergyman who challenged a compassionate Creator and he was about to lose the challenge.
As I look at the text, I cannot help but notice that there are some fine points to this verse which stems from verse three. Verse three reveals a man made scene. It is all about man and man’s plan to go his own way. There is no concept nor concern for God nor anything to do with the Divine. Man has done all of the arraigning, seeking, buying and resting. God is no where to be found in this verse. However, in verse four everything changes and it is all about God and His actions. He does not appear in verse three but comes roaring to center stage in verse four as He takes charge of the whole affair concerning Jonah and his flight from his God given duty. May we take these two verses to heart and remember, that without having God in our plans-there is no room for advancement.
I see three things relating to these two verses. The opening scenario begins in the previous verses, but the actions begin in verse four and the rest of the chapter and indeed the entire book.
I note the contrast between these two verses with that little conjunction, “but.” This little three letter word caries such an impact in the story of Jonah. Everything was fine until that word, “but” is introduced. That little word changes everything. It changes the whole picture of what went before and what follows. That three letter word, reveals all about Jonah before it is used and then it shows God’s actions after Jonah makes good on his flight from God. May we ever live on the clear side of that little word. “but.” May we ever live so that people will not have to use that word in our relationship with God. May people never have to say, “He was a good man, but he was not a Christian.” Regarding this one little conjunction, I note the CRAFT in which the renegade clergyman was sailing before that word, “but” was introduced into verse four. I also note the CONTRAST between these two verses since that word was placed at the beginning of verse four. Lastly, I note the CONSEQUENCES which follow that little word.
I. CRAFT: As I noted, verse three is all about man (Jonah) and what he wanted and what he did. However, when we get to verse four and once we read that little word, “but” everything changes from man’s perspective to God’s actions.
I first notice the CRAFT in verse three as it was intended for man’s benefit then I notice what happened to that very vessel once God entered the picture.
True to form the ship wherein Jonah was resting was designed by man; made water tight by man; floated by man; and, sailed the Sea many times by and for man’s well being. Like so many times before, this craft left port and began to set sail on a marked Course which it had taken many times before. It was no stranger to the water and once loaded with its goods for sell to foreign ports, its Course was well learned and well attended by the sailors on board. There was no cause of alarm when the boat was tied to the shore line; everything was working as it should be working; there were no apparent storms brewing in the distance; and, everything pointed to a good and fast sail to Tarshish for a good and hefty profit for the boat’s owners. If only the boat would have stayed moored to its tether, things might have been different. However, the lines were pulled onto the deck, the sails were unfurled, the helm was engaged and slowly the ship began to drift away onto a calm sea. All was under man’s control and everything was fine.