Summary: The sailors sailing with Jonah-Gentiles-prayed for God’s forgiveness and His help and received both. They were the forerunners of we Gentiles who have accepted Christ as our Saviour.
PRAYING PETITIONERS PURCHASE PARDON
What were the sailors to do now? They had heard the confession of the renegade prophet and they refused to entertain his plea for their safety. Now, after they had tried their best to make it to shore and found that their efforts were in vain, they had no other recourse except to turn to the God of Jonah.
It is interesting to note that after they had prayed to their gods and then cast lots for possible answers, nothing worked and the ship continued to sustain heavy battering from the storm. Besides these events, the situation was deteriorating quickly and they were afraid of the loss of all on board. Somewhere and at some point in their trying to run for safety, they realized that they were losing the battle and they turned to the only One who could help them at this time. I have to commend these sailors because they-unlike many other people-recognized their need for God. Many are blindsided and are sinking fast in their own storms of sin and never turn to God. For what ever the reasons are, and they appear to be many reasons, some just do not turn to God when they know they are sinking fast without hope and no way out of their situation unless they turn to God-not these sailors. Once it became clear to them that they were fighting a losing battle, they cast aside all of their pretensions and ideologies and prayed desperately to God. As a result of their prayers, God heard them, saved their souls and saved their lives. Above the raging storms of the world, God heard their cries for mercies and He came to their rescue. May this be a lesson for all of us: regardless of how bad the situations are which envelope us, God can still hear the cry for His help from Heaven above and He can and will come to the aid of those who call upon Him.
I see three things in this passage before us. The first one I see is the PETITIONERS as they cried out to God for help. The second thing I see is the PRAYER they prayed and how God answered their cries for His mercies. The last thing I note is the PRONOUNCEMENTS these sailors made after they made contact with God.
I. PETITIONERS: As I have stated in my other sermons, I have to admire these sailors. They seemed to be sincere men who truly believed in their gods and prayed accordingly. However, after being told about Jehovah, they became aware of the true God and while they hesitated at first to call on Him, they now turned to Him with their whole hearts. I feel that many people could take a lesson from these men as they ran the gamut of their faith only to find that their gods were powerless to help. When this dawned upon them, they then turned to God and became followers of Him.
The first thing I note about these seekers was that they were in Peril, real peril. They were faced with their demise when they turned, at last, to God. Why is it that so many people wait until life hangs by a thread before they turn to God-if they do at all? These sailors had tried everything and lost, they were going to drown and they knew that unless the God of Jonah intervened for them-they were doomed. It was in the darkest hour of their lives when from way down deep in the bosom of each man, they called out to God for help. Way above the earth, way past the celestial stars, far above the roar of the angry Sea, God heard the desperate cry of people seeking Him. This is important. This reveals that God was not just the God of the Hebrews as Jonah wanted to claim, but He became the God of the Gentiles also. These men were not raised in the Jewish religion, but when they called out to God-He answered their cry. This had to be revealing to Jonah. Standing there on deck, he saw that God could be the God that would save Nineveh as well as any other nation, race or people. All He needed was to be asked into one’s heart.
Not only were they in grave Peril, but they were actively seeking God, and their Plight, touched God’s heart. The Bible tells us over and over that the God of wrath is also a God of love. Not only did He arrange the situation in which these men now found themselves, but He was also disposed to help them in their present Plight of utter helplessness. The old saying is still true, “Man proposes, but God disposes.” Looking on from the celestial city of yonder Heaven, God saw the distress of these men who were involved in a lesson aimed at Jonah and when they cried out for help-He answered their petition.