Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Why, Jonah?

I have no idea why this has bebuggered me so since Bible class Sunday morning, but I just can't get it out of my mind. For some reason, after 35 years of hearing and reading and studying the story of Jonah, something just jumped off the page at me during that study, see if it does to you too:

8.Then they said to him, "Tell us, now ! On whose account has this calamity struck us? What is your occupation ? And where do you come from? What is your country ? From what people are you?"
9.He said to them, "I am a Hebrew, and I fear the LORD God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land."
10.Then the men became extremely frightened and they said to him, "How could you do this ?" For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them.
11.So they said to him, "What should we do to you that the sea may become calm for us?"-for the sea was becoming increasingly stormy.
12.He said to them, "Pick me up and throw me into the sea. Then the sea will become calm for you, for I know that on account of me this great storm has come upon you."
13.However, the men rowed desperately to return to land but they could not, for the sea was becoming even stormier against them.
14.Then they called on the LORD and said, "We earnestly pray, O LORD, do not let us perish on account of this man's life and do not put innocent blood on us; for You, O LORD, have done as You have pleased."
15.So they picked up Jonah, threw him into the sea, and the sea stopped its raging.
16.Then the men feared the LORD greatly, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows.
Jonah 1:8-16


We were studying, in particular, that Jonah was totally oblivious to the calamity his disobedience to God was causing all around him and that he managed to be completely asleep during a storm so bad that seasoned mariners were emptying the ship in an effort to save it and themselves. We talked about how "your sin will find you out", and that sin has a way of affecting people all around us without us even noticing because we're just too caught up in "I'm only hurting myself" to pay attention to the storm that is threatening others. But that's not what caught my attention...

Why on earth, if he KNEW that he was the reason for the peril these mariners were in, WHY did Jonah not jump ship himself??? Why did he stand there and put the responsibility on their shoulders??? Notice for a second verse 13. These pagan sailors, with full knowledge of exactly what they needed to do, were so concerned for the life of their passenger that they put their own lives in jeopardy for a bit longer as they tried to row to shore instead of throwing Jonah to what they understood to be certain death. THEY were trying to save HIM--a prophet of God--but apparently Jonah hadn't repented enough to do what needed to be done to save the people who he was jeopardizing by his mere presence! He knew he needed to be in the water for them to be spared, yet he left that on THEIR heads. "Throw me into the sea," he said. He didn't do it himself, though! WHY???

Isn't that just the way of sin? Haven't you heard someone who was caught in sin stammer out in a lashing out of self-pity to "oh, just throw me out, if I'm that bad"!? Teenagers, maybe? An unrepentant wandering spouse? Offensive guests? It seems that sin blinds us to the responsibility WE have to those around us to get out of our own sin, does it not? Then again, Jonah cared more for the little worm-eaten tree that was shielding the sun for him than he did the entire city of Ninevah....so maybe for some of us it takes more than being tossed into the ocean, eaten by a fish, and vomited out on the beach for us to learn that we aren't the center of the universe.

3 comments:

Luke said...

I know I've still got a long way to go in these areas!

~Luke

SweetPeaCastle said...

You have a mighty way with words, sweet sister! After I was struck by the very point you were making, I was barrelled over by laughter over your wording. I'm afraid that most of us still act as if we are "the center of the universe" more than we'd care to admit. ~ Tiffani

the voice of melody said...

You raise some good points, and good questions to ponder on. Great post!

Many sweet blessings, :)

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