Summary: An examination of Jonah’s struggle with the will of God.
As we continue into this exploration of the life of Jonah – it is interesting to discover how much we are like him. Many times in our lives we have to deal with God giving us a word. Whether it is directly from the Word of God (the Bible), or by the Man of God (the Preacher) or by Inspiration of God (the Holy Spirit) – often times we do not respond too well to His communication.
Some of us have become masters in the area of ignoring the Word of God. Our Bibles are not worn from use; rather they are immaculate replications of the original purchase. Some of our Bibles still contain the “snap, crackle, pop” of the day that they were purchased or presented some years ago.
Some of us have become masters in the area of ignoring the Man of God. Some of us do not come to hear what the Lord’s word has to say, we want to be entertained. Some of us can sleep during the introduction and points and then snap out of it when the Man of God begins the Celebration and Intonation – in other words, whoop.
Some of us have become masters in the area of ignoring the Holy Spirit. Our ears are not attuned to looking for a Word from Him. We do not seek his advice or counsel. Some of us don’t even believe that the Holy Spirit even speaks or leads, as if that is a doctrine from another place or planet.
Jonah is like us.
As he begins to flee from his home region of Gath-Hepher after hearing the audible Voice of the Lord, he has purchased a secondary seat on a Phoenician Vessel which is heading to Joppa. Although God has told him – not asked him, not advised him, but told him – to go to Ninevah, Jonah has chosen to engage himself in an “Exit Stage Right” theology.
Running away is better than running to.
When going down to Joppa is better than going up to Ninevah.
When going down into a ship is better than riding high on a Camel.
When going down into the sea is better than traveling on dry land.
Jonah is traveling via a sea faring Grain Vessel. There were faster boats – called Men of War – they were much lighter but they could not survive a storm. Most civilians who traveled in that day traveled by land – via carriages, chariots and cargo transportation. However, Jonah chose to travel dangerously – by sea.
It is interesting to note that passengers who traveled by sea were considered extras. The cargo was more important that human travelers. A traveler would have to bring your own food and be responsible for your own nighttime lodging as the ships very rarely traveled at night due to the uncertainty of the travel lanes.
There were two main times of the year to travel. First, the safe travel period was considered to be between March 26th and September 14th of the year. However, the Romans were more adventurous – they allowed ships to travel between March 11th and November 9th – during the stormy season.
That’s why the Apostle Paul pleaded to have his journey extended via boat – because when the storm came, the ship caught the Northeast wind. They had to lower the mainsail, use a small sail at the bow of the ship, throw the grain overboard, and run a cable from the prow to the stern to prevent the ship from breaking its bow.
Jonah is now on the sea. He must have felt awfully smug by now. After all – it looks like he has gotten the last laugh. He has defeated the will of God for his life. He has refused to go and preach in Ninevah. He would not have to face the descendents of those who pillaged his parents’ homeland. He has actually begun to feel that perhaps he was right. There is a place you can go to flee from the presence of the Lord.
However, may I suggest that there is no hiding place from God?
There is no mountain high enough.
There is no valley low enough.
There is no planet far away enough.
There is no depth of the sea low enough.
There is no room dark enough.
There is no location discreet enough.
There is no train fast enough.
There is no building high enough.
There is no bullet fast enough.
God is everywhere! God decides that Jonah has gone far enough. In our text, the Bible says, “But the Lord sent out a great wind into the sea.” Coverdale edition puts it like this – “God hurled a great wynde (sic) into the sea.”
God has a way of using the elements to get our attention. Anybody here who has been through a God generated storm understand that wind will grab your attention!