A Great Wind Requires A Great God

Have you ever thought about the story of Jonah from the perspective of the sailors?

The book is called “Jonah,” after all, so we might not give much thought to the supporting characters. It’s clear the Assyrians, the citizens of Nineveh to whom Jonah was sent to preach, were recipients of God’s mercy, but the sailors who took Jonah on board, fully aware that he was running from his God, also received mercy.

In the process, they also got a front-row seat to an important lesson: God alone is God.

Jonah 1:4-6 – The Lord hurled a great wind on the sea and there was a great storm on the sea so that the ship was about to break up. Then the sailors became afraid and every man cried to his god, and they threw the cargo which was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone below into the hold of the ship, lain down and fallen sound asleep. So the captain approached him and said, “How is it that you are sleeping? Get up, call on your god. Perhaps your god will be concerned about us so that we will not perish.”

First of all, this passage tells us that these sailors, who lived almost three thousand years ago (circa 790 BC) were a lot smarter than our current culture which denies the existence of a God who controls nature. Their immediate response to this unusually violent storm was that someone had upset the gods. They recognized their human limitations to fix the problem.

Not that they didn’t try! They threw off the cargo, and even when the cast lots revealed that Jonah was the one on whose account the calamity had struck (1:7), they didn’t immediately agree to send him over the side of the ship to appease his God. They rowed desperately to get to land, to no avail.

Finally, however, the lesson that God wanted to teach Jonah bore fruit in the lives of the pagan, pantheistic sailors. Their gods were useless. The storm would not abate, no matter how hard they worked, or how loudly they cried to their deities. Reminiscent of the Baal worshippers dancing around Mount Carmel, they had to admit the obvious.

The God who created the storm is the only God who can calm it. Only God is God.

Jonah 1:14-16 – 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 upon us; for You, O Lord, have done as You pleased.” So they picked up Jonah, threw him into the sea, and the sea stopped its raging. Then the men feared the Lord greatly, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows.

Jonah surrendered his life into the hands of his God when he advised the sailors to throw him into the sea. As he sank beneath the waters, the noise of the storm instantly ceased, replaced by a quietness he had never experienced. In that moment his fate was fully dependent on the God from whom he’d been running.

I believe the same happened above the waters. The storm abated, the waves settling in a pristine hush as the clouds dissipated and the heat of the sun’s rays burst onto the deck of that ship. No wonder that astonishment, fear, and amazement struck the hearts of the sailors.

What storm has God hurled upon your life? His sovereign purpose in the storm may not be immediately clear. It might be your storm or the storm of someone in the boat with you, but regardless, you are watching the waves get higher and the clouds get darker.

What “god” are you crying out to, to fix the storm? Is it a god of your own making?

A great wind requires a Great God.

Like Jonah, you may have to go down to the deep recesses, where you think you are going to die. Or, you may have to release someone, some dream, some hope, some goal, into the hands of the One who is showing Himself to be present and mighty over the affairs of your life.

The only answer is to cast your fate on the goodness, grace, and mercy of the God who created the storm. He is the only One who can calm it.

Psalm 46:10 – Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.