WEEK 2: Consequences
“Then they said to him, ‘Tell us on whose account this evil has come upon us. What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?’ And he said to them, ‘I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.’ … Then they said to him, ‘What shall we do to you, that the sea may quiet down for us?’ For the sea grew more and more tempestuous. He said to them, ‘Pick me up and hurl me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you, for I know it is because of me that this great tempest has come upon you.’” (Jonah 1: 8-9, 11-12)
A great tempest had broken out and the boat that was taking Jonah to Tarshish was about to capsize and sink, killing everyone on board. After the sailors woke Jonah, who was fast asleep and had to be woken up, he realised that what was happening was his doing. No one else was to blame, and Jonah began his confession.
“I am a Hebrew.” Jonah started his confession by confirming his position in relation to the God of Israel. Remember that Jonah was supposed to go to Nineveh, a heathen non-Hebrew city to “call out against” it. Jonah chose to flee to Tarshish because he was afraid of the heathen enemy. Now here on the boat, surrounded by non-Hebrew heathen sailors, Jonah confessed his identity as proof to God that he would now go to Nineveh and do the same there.
“I fear the Lord, who made the sea and the dry land.” Jonah confessed that there was no place where he could hide from God: sea or dry land. But Jonah’s confession of an omnipresent God was the key to his eventual going to Nineveh. Jonah feared going to Nineveh because they were an evil and a brutal people who would certainly kill him. Jonah realised that his fear of Nineveh reduced the power of God. Faced with a God able to command the seas, Jonah realised that God was to be feared and not Nineveh.
“Pick me up and hurl me into the sea” (1:12). Jonah, having confessed his wrongs in running away from God and placing others in danger because of his selfish choice, told the sailors to “hurl [him] into the sea”. Jonah could have asked God to stop the storm, but he did not. Jonah could have prayed to God, allowing the sailors to see the power of Jonah’s God, but he did not. It might seem as if Jonah perceived everything as lost. Having confessed his wrongs and acknowledged that God is all-powerful, Jonah might have felt as if God would not want to use him anymore because of his wrongs, and decided it was better to die. Jonah also knew that because God made the sea and dry land, God could save him from drowning if He still wanted to use him.
Jonah was willing to literally give his life so that the sailors on the boat could be saved. We all run at some time, and by God’s grace we return after confession. Choose today if you are willing to literally give everything, even your life, so that God might save others, despite your reluctance.