Summary: Jonah professes to be a Hebrew who worships the Lord. However, because he cannot accept the unanticipated mercy of God Jonah behaves like cargo. We are cargo when we don't speak to God.
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Our Identity Before A Merciful God
Last week we ended with Jonah in the town of Joppa paying the fare to sail for Tarshish.
Jonah did this because he found the mercy which God was extending to the town of Nineveh too disturbing.
A succinct visual summary of the actions of Jonah can be seen by looking at a map.
Jonah’s hometown is Gath Hepher.
Nineveh, is the location God called Jonah to proclaim to.
The port town of Joppa is where Jonah went to get the boat.
The most likely location of Tarshish is where Jonah was headed.
Jonah is literally going in the opposite direction … as far as he can.
So what does the Lord do about this? Let’s read Jonah 1:4-17
The Lord send a storm.
The moment the storm hits Jonah knows exactly what is going on.
Behold, the storm of the Lord! Wrath has gone forth, a whirling tempest; it will burst upon the head of the wicked. The anger of the Lord will not turn back until he has executed and accomplished the intents of his heart. In the latter days you will understand it clearly.
On the deck of the ship the sailors are praying. Everyone worshipped a god in those days. And everyone knew, in this situation, that this is no ordinary storm. There is something about this storm that the seasoned sailors know it is one which requires calling out to the gods. The problem however was that it was difficult to know which god to call out too.
Each nation had their own gods, and there were different gods for different circumstances. Is it the god of the sea who has been offended? Or the god of the sailors? Or the god of relationships? Was it your god and not my god?
Everyone is scrambling for help and hope.
Praying. Calling out.
But also throwing the cargo overboard as well – it was a desperate move because safe delivery of the cargo was how they were paid. But they needed to lighten the ship so it would sit higher in the water so there is less chance of waves swamping it.
Where is Jonah?
The prophet who hears God’s voice. The one who knows exactly which God is the one to pray to? Where is he? In the process of throwing the cargo overboard Jonah is discovered by the captain, below deck fast asleep.
If Jonah had been a monkey in a pick tutu playing an accordion the captain would not have been more surprised.
It is absolutely inconceivable in the circumstances that someone would be asleep in the middle of the storm, instead of praying. It is an act of absolute selfishness and complete disregard for everyone else on the ship that Jonah is not even trying. Trying to call on the name of his gods in order to bring a reprieve and end to the wrath of the “gods”. But here is Jonah, fast asleep, doing nothing.
I’m going to put two verses in Hebrew up on the screen.
(get hebrew of Jonah 1:2)
get-up go to-Nineveh the city the great and-speak against-her
(get hebrew of Jonah 1:6)
The calling of the captain is echoing the calling of God.
Speaking … it is so essential in the journey of our relationship with God.
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?
The word needs to be heard as a testimony of the work of God. Unless this testimony, the proclamation of the Gospel, happens people will not call on the Lord and believe. Speaking.
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
In the journey of relationship with Jesus we speak out his name – Jesus is Lord. It is a declaration of identity that we stand in the kingdom with Jesus and we want to be his. Speaking.
Once God speaks to us through His Word, and we speak to Him in confession. Then we can keep speaking to Him in prayer … about anything and everything.
In every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Here is a situation that needs prayer. Get up and speak to your god!
Jonah does get up and go onto the deck. But there is no record of Jonah speaking to God.
Nothing changes when we don’t speak to God.
Jonah is silent. The storm keeps going. So a new strategy is implemented.