Summary: The sailors in Jonah refused, at first, to rid the boat of this troubling person, but later did so. They serve as a type of a person ridding oneself of sin.
ROWING ROWERS REACH REASON
With Jonah’s confession over, the sailors decided that they would not throw him overboard, but would attempt to make it to land somewhere soon. The storm was so ferocious, that for the first time, the text tells us that the sailors began skimming the horizon for land-any land upon which they could drive the boat lest they all perish at sea.
Perhaps they realized that they had wasted valuable time in talking with Jonah and now the best response to all was to head for land before the angel of death settled in upon them. Taking the oars in hand, these seamen began the difficult task of steering this sea-going vessel against the wind and head for shore. Since this storm was not like any other storms they had ever encountered, the task they set for themselves proved to be an impossible one to say the least.
The scene must have seemed to be very strange to anyone who would by chance look upon this spectacle at that time. There stood Jonah, holding on to what ever he could hold to keep from being thrown into the sea, in spite of his earlier plea to be tossed overboard. Down in the hold the sailors were busy manning the oars and the rest of the passengers were just as scared as everyone else. However, in spite of the efforts of these sailors, the work they were attempting to accomplish was not succeeding and the ship was being held in place by strong winds and surging waves.
As I study this particular verse of my text, I see three things about these sailors, which play a vital role in this entire scene before us, and I see some very practical applications to people who are rowing against the currents of their lives and the possible reasons for their lackadaisical experience. The first thing I note is that I do have a great deal of RESPECT for these sailors. The second thing I note about this verse is that in spite of what these sailors were trying to do, there were inherent RISKS involved. Then, I note the REMEDY of the situation at hand.
I. RESPECT: In spite of the spiritual condition of these sailors, regardless of their belief in their own gods, I have to commend these men because of who they were and what they were willing to do. They had just heard Jonah’s plea to be taken up and thrown overboard, but instead of that, these men returned to their oars and tried to bring all-including this renegade prophet to land.
The Response of these men under such trying circumstances is laudable. They refused to participate in the demise of a prophet of God. Unlike so many people who absolutely refuse to recognize God, His Church, His people, and His prophets, these sailors recognized that the God of Jonah was superior to their gods and they were not willing to incur any more of His divine wrath by hurting, harming or destroying His prophet. They had respect for God unlike so many today who try to debase the God of the universe in any way possible. The reaction of these men to Jonah’s plea was to turn to their oars and not to throw him overboard.
Not only do I find a great deal of admiration for these sailors in their answering Jonah by not throwing him overboard, but also I respect them for their Resourcefulness. They turned to help all on board-including Jonah, by taking to their oars and doing their best to get the boat to land. These men had done all they could do and the last thing that could be done was to row and row hard. I also note that these men-at least as far as the text shows-did not waste their time in bemoaning their circumstances and whining, but took to their oars as if every life on board depended upon them which in reality was true. Mark down two areas of high esteem for these men.
The third part of my admiration for these men has to do with their Resilience. These men had just been given a brief introduction about the God of all gods; they had just met a prophet of this God; they had been made aware of the fact that this God was the only God; they had just come to hear that this God of Jonah was the Creator and sustainer of all life on this planet; and, they were face to face with a Deity that was holding them in suspension while they tried to sort things out for all concerned. These men did not turn and jump overboard, they did not curse this God, they did not even curse Jonah, instead they accepted what they had and turned to trying to save the passengers on board. They were a hardy bunch of men and they refused to go down without giving their all to saving as many as possible. Somewhere they had developed good work ethics and they were determined to succeed. I have to admire any person who is willing to work against all odds just in order to help someone else. These sailors are to be admired-oh, that more church people would emulate them-working for one another and for Christ, regardless of the costs.