READ JONAH ONE
The winds are raging, and the waves crash against all sides of the boat. The deck is a constant ebb and flow of water as the ship rocks back and forth unpredictably. No one can tell where the sea water ends and the rain water begins, and the sky is thick with blackness.
And into this chaos Jonah speaks his confession and plan: pick me up and throw me overboard.
And they do. The skilled sailors who fear for their lives and fear the God of the sea and dry land, when all else fails, pick up Jonah, and hurl him into the sea.
The word טוּל is the Hebrew word for “hurl.” We’ve seen it before several times.
Look at the following verses, and note who performs the action of “hurling” and what they are “hurling”:
The author isn’t using this word repeatedly because he has run out of vocabulary words, but because he wants to emphasize something very important. God’s act of violence in hurling the storm on the sea was necessitated by Jonah’s act of self-will and disobedience. And, in what looks like the end, the violence of hurling Jonah overboard is also necessitated by Jonah’s continued self-will and disobedience.
What happens when Jonah is cast overboard?
When does it happen?
The immediate calm on the sea points to one thing: the God of the sea and dry land. Only the Master of the waters could cause such a dramatic and awesome contrast in the elements of nature, and the sailors know this well.
What is the sailors’ response?
The sailors fall down in worship. They respond in awe and fear of the Lord for what He has done, and they make vows and offerings to the God who answered their cries for mercy.
The same word is used to describe Jonah’s relationship to God (self-expressed) and the sailors’ new relationship to God (expressed by the author). What is it, and how is each described?
Jonah, a prophet of Yahweh, confesses that he fears the Lord. After encountering Yahweh for the first time, the sailors “feared God exceedingly.” It is easy for us, perhaps like Jonah, to grow stale in our relationship with God. Perhaps it has been years since we felt as though we’ve seen Him move in miraculous ways or perhaps the call to obedience has left us weary and, like Jonah, running from God. But when we see God’s power on display, there is no other appropriate response than how the sailors’ respond: to fear God exceedingly and fall down in worship!
PRAY & REFLECT
Prayerfully consider whether or not you fear the Lord. Ask Him to refresh your heart with a holy fear of Him that causes you to worship Him. Ask Him to stoke in your heart a longing to see His power and to worship Him for who He is.