Vol. 7, No. 43 – October 30, 2022
How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber and want like an armed man. –Proverbs 6:9-11
You know, I think I will just have a nap.
Jonah had gone down into the hold of the ship to sleep. He showed both an indifference to the call of the Lord upon his life; but also an indifference to the captain and sailors on the ship. This is not as uncommon an activity as you might imagine.
A young man named Eutychus, sitting at the window, sank into a deep sleep as Paul talked . . . being overcome by sleep, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. –Acts 20:9
It is dangerous to fall asleep in church, or in any other place where you should stay awake. I have had that experience, and so have you. When it happens there might be a booming voice, a burst of music, or even the shuffle of chairs to reawaken us.
Jonah was awakened with perhaps a swift kick, or at least with the booming voice of the captain. Abrupt words. You get up and call on your god!!! Since the captain did not really know Jonah, or what god he worshipped, perhaps the fearful captain was scratching and clawing for another god in case his own failed. So much for a sense of the god the captain worshipped being dependable. For the captain and the sailors, any god would do. Should not have been that way for Jonah, but he was mad at God.
We may be critical of this captain and his sailors; however, how many of us tend to depend upon ourselves and push ourselves into corners to think of how we can get out of our difficulties—holding off our prayers and faith until nothing else works. A believer cannot ignore reality forever.
But we wait far too long.
Meanwhile, on deck, the sailors are more than discussing the raging storm. They were not discussing the great storm of 702 B.C. They only knew this storm is the absolute worst of their life experience and are fearful of its outcome for them. Ferocious. Supernatural. They were right. Because it was the Lord who sent the storm (Jonah 1:4).
The literal sense of send is to hurl. The Lord hurled the storm. What gets hurled into our lives unexpectedly? What do we do with it?
The sailors concluded that the storm was in judgment against someone on the ship who had done something horrible. They cast lots to discover who. Discover the culprit.
At that moment Jonah appears on deck. In God’s economy, nothing occurs by chance. The lot fell on Jonah. God is in control; remember, He is not surprised. The outcome is His.
That is true for us as well.
Donald Grey Barnhouse paraphrased this scene as, Man throws the dice, but it is God who makes the spots come up. Yes, He does.
Jonah is exposed (Jonah 1:8-9). He speaks. We need to note the irony. He ran away from God, being in this awful position because he refuses to preach to the Ninevites (pagans). He is about to preach to them anyway.
The sailors’ judgment comes upon Jonah. He is hurled into the raging sea. And a great fish has him over for a meal; Jonah is the entrée.
In an amusing way, this shows that God always gets His way. Despite our determination to disobey God, despite our breaking our relationship, and despite all the fear and anxiety experienced, there is hope.
Jonah has been a preacher too long for him to fall away from the gift God implanted in his heart. His calling was to lead people to God. God has not changed His calling, and He certainly is going to get Jonah’s attention.
How does God get our attention? Sometimes He drives us to tears.
When I get out of this belly, it is a good time to tell my children
and grandchildren that I have times of crying.
—From chapter 11, Echoes from the Belly of a Whale, my latest book