A Short Study of Jonah 1:1-17

Jonah 1:1 Now the word OF THE LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,

Jonah 1:2 Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.

Jonah 1:3 But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence OF THE LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence OF THE LORD.

Jonah 1:4 BUT THE LORD sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken.

Jonah 1:5 Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep.

Jonah 1:6 So the shipmaster came to him, and said unto him, What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not.

Jonah 1:7 And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah.

Jonah 1:8 Then said they unto him, Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this evil is upon us; What is thine occupation? and whence comest thou? what is thy country? and of what people art thou?

Jonah 1:9 And he said unto them, I am an Hebrew; and I fear THE LORD, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land.

Jonah 1:10 Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him, Why hast thou done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence OF THE LORD, because he had told them.

Jonah 1:11 Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous.

Jonah 1:12 And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you.

Jonah 1:13 Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not: for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous against them.

Jonah 1:14 Wherefore they cried uNTO THE LORD, and said, We beseech thee, O LORD, we beseech thee, let us not perish for this man’ life, and lay not upon us innocent blood: FOR THOU, O LORD, hast done as it pleased thee.

Jonah 1:15 So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging.

Jonah 1:16 Then the men feared THE LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice UNTO THE LORD, and made vows.

Jonah 1:17 NOW THE LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

As I began to look at the book of Jonah something came to me that I had never considered before. I saw the ship into which he entered as a vessel chosen of God to redeem. Here is a vessel full of ignorance and idolatry into which comes a stranger desiring to go to Tarshish (the delightful place). He pays his fare and enters deep within the vessel and there he finds a place of rest prepared for him and goes to sleep. There the religious man takes his rest and is blissfully unaware of anything until God begins to destroy his ship with a storm sent to awaken him.

This is the lot of every chosen vessel of God. He is full of idolatrous ideas and superstitions. And then without him even being aware of his coming a religious man running from God finds his way deep within his vessel and secures his place with the fare. Thinking all is well we set sail on our journey, our stranger quietly asleep within. Then God sends a storm; His storm! And the mighty wind of His spirit begins to shake our vessel with the power of the gospel. So we bow our heads and call out like the prophets of Baal to a God that cannot hear and pray our shallow empty hearted words, but the wind keeps blowing. We attempt to save ourselves by lightening the load and we toss a few bad habits over the side but still the ship is pounded by the tempest. Until finally we turn our attention deep within and arouse the old man out of his safe place and cry, “What meanest Thou, O sleeper?”

Then we begin to question His presence. Why are you hear? – Where are you from? – From whose kingdom have you come? – What is your occupation? “I am a Hebrew and fear the God of Heaven which made the sea and dry land.” (Jonah 1:9). Are you now! Then why do you run from His presence, rebel against His instruction, and defy His commandments? Here is the reason for the storm: Unbelief, Self-Righteousness, and Self-will. In order to save the vessel the one righteous man who claimed to have an interest in God must be cast into the sea. The righteousness of God’s holy prophet cannot be seen asleep in a place of safety but can only be seen as he is thrown into the judgment of God’s Holy wrath, by our own hands and according to the good pleasure of God.

In the great substitute for sinner’s we see both our sin and our Saviour; both our righteousness and His. Upon their obedience to the instruction of God’s servant the sea ceased from her raging and the men feared the LORD, offered sacrifices, and made vows. Oh, may the God of Jonah cause such a storm to enter our lives, expose our self-righteousness, and cause us to see His glory. Amen.

D. Pruitt

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