The Lord told Jonah to “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it because its wickedness has come up before me.”
Jonah rebelled and headed for Tarshish. In Joppa, he found a ship bound for that port, paid the fare, boarded and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.
The Lord sent a hurricane on the calm sea, and the ship threatened to break up. All the sailors were afraid, and each cried out to his own god. They threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship, but the storm continued.
Jonah had gone below deck, where he had lain down and fallen into a deep sleep. The captain went to him saying, “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us so we will not perish.”
Then the sailors said to each other, “Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity.” They cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah. So they asked him, “Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What kind of work do you do? Where do you come from? Who are you?”
He said, “I am a Hebrew, and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.”
This terrified them and they asked, “What have you done?” (They knew he was running away from the Lord because he had already told them so.)
The sea was getting rougher, so they asked him, “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?”
“Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.”
The men did their best to row back to land. But they could not because the turbulence increased. Then they cried out to the Lord, “Please, Lord, do not let us die for taking this man’s life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, Lord, have done as you pleased.” Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. At this, the men had real fear of the Lord as they offered a sacrifice and made vows to Him.
The Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of that fish three days and three nights.
Jonah acted like a child who ran away from home because he could not have his own way. He was so wrong and silly that we read this and chuckle even though his actions are typical of many preachers even now.
Think about this; suppose Jonah had said: “I’ll go where you want me to go dear Lord, and do what you want me to do”?
Let us continue with the travels of Jonah in the November message of LIVING BY FAITH.