Summary: The ship master awakened Jonan and said cry out to your God, and then they cast lots to see who had caused God to be angry.
They Cast Lots
The shipmaster awoke Jonah and said, “Call upon your God.” The Bible doesn’t mention what Jonah replied, if anything. Although he was a prophet a man of God, he certainly had given up his right to communication and communion with God. He had assumed the role of a rebel against the Sovereign.
When we sin against God and continue in disobedience, we forsake our right to prayer. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” (Ps. 66:18)
True prayer is seeking God’s will in circumstances. So when a man is rebelling against God’s revealed will, he truly cannot pray. The man is seeking his own will.
The first true prayer that comes from a transgressing saint begins with a forsaking of his own rebellion. He must come back to seeking the divine will of God. he must return in submission to God vowing again his allegiance, loyalty, and obedience.
Jonah had closed the door on his prayer life. He could not leave the presence of God, yet in his disobedience, he could not come near unto God. to pray in faith is to be submissive to God’s will. For Jonah to even pretend to pray is hypocrisy.
God’s word on sin and prayer; Jer 11:10-11
10 They are turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, which refused to hear my words; and they went after other gods to serve them: the house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken my covenant which I made with their fathers.
11 Therefore thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape; and though they shall cry unto me, I will not hearken unto them.
For man to sin against God to deny God’s authority over him, then to dare to approach God with pride and arrogance asking him to hear our prayers. This is an insult to God, acting as if we hadn’t sinned or that God had not noticed. If God was to answer our prayer he would degrade himself.
You sin and disobey God then come back and act as if God approves of your sin. He would have to stop being a holy righteous God.
I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early.
There could be no prayer until there was repentance, “Then shall ye find me when ye seek me with all your heart.”
To bring Jonah to repentance was the purpose of the storm that Jonah would then be back in communion with God.
I. The Sailors Disown Any Guilt:
They were saying, “We’ll cast lots and see which of you is guilty.” A lost man is not under conviction; he feels no real guilt of sinning against God.
When Jesus announced that “His betrayer was at the table.” The disciples all questioned, “Is it I?” a saved man knows he is guilty of sin and that he id undeserving of forgiveness. Which sin is God so angry at that he brings this storm? Here it is obvious this storm is not an ordinary one, they could see the hand of an angry God in it.
Here we have a picture of how sinful men will justify themselves, they might be willing to admit, that they, as all men are, are sinners. But to say I have sinned against God is another matter.
To say my sinful life deserves nothing but the wrath of God. Oh no!
Men will declare, “I am as good as most men are, and better than many. This storm must be sent for someone worse than me.”
When man sees the wrath of God in a storm near him, he looks around for someone to blame it on. When it begins to beat upon the sides of the ship of his life threatening destruction ask him then if he is a sinner. To answer yes is to say, “I deserve all that has happened.” The flesh rebels he does not wish to pronounce sentence upon himself, that heart that Jeremiah says, “is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.” Causes man to try and justify his guilt. “I am a sinner but…” “I have lied but...” “I have stolen but...” “Look God there are many worse than me.”
Only when God the Holy Spirit replaces that heart of stone with a heart of flesh, will man fall before God and say, “Lord have mercy upon me a sinner.” When man is shown his guilt, then God displays his grace.
When man sees that God’s wrath is for him, “he is under condemnation.” He sees a sovereign God that is both Just and Justifier. He then begins to cry, “Lord save me.”