Jonah 1:9-11 NKJV So 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.” (10) Then the men were exceedingly afraid, and said to him, “Why have you done this?” For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them. (11) Then they said to him, “What shall we do to you that the sea may be calm for us?”—for the sea was growing more tempestuous.
When I read Jonah chapter one, I can’t help but to feel compassion for these sailors. They pick up a passenger who tells them he is traveling to Tarshish and when asked why, he tells them because the God of Israel wanted him to go to Ninevah. They must have thought that Jonah was nuts. That is like living in Tulsa, OK, booking a flight to L.A., California and when you get your boarding pass the airline agent asks, “You headed to LA on business or pleasure?” you respond, “Neither, God told me to go to NY to minister and I don’t want to.” Seriously, how preposterous does that sound? They probably just sluffed him off as a religious nut and went their way. That is until this they encountered a storm unlike anything they’d ever seen before and knew it wasn’t natural in design.
After crying out to all their gods to save them they turned to Jonah, who they accurately deemed the root cause of the issue and asked him, “Why have you done this?” This is a fair question because he just got done telling them that he has great awe inspiring fear for the God of Israel.
This had to be incredibly difficult to process and send all kinds of mixed messages to them. In essence he tells them that he incredibly fears the God of all gods and creator of all things, who has sent me on a mission of mercy to a lost and dying people, but he doesn’t want to so he’s trying to run away and in the process has made life unbearable for himself and everyone around him. These sailors are terrified of this epic storm, are confused by this guy who is running from the God he serves, and just want an answer of what they need to do to find peace again.
The sailors of people of the world asked Jonah two questions: 1) If God is as good as you say He is why aren’t you obeying Him and living doing what He wants? 2) What should we do? Then Jonah gives them divine wisdom of how they should be delivered from their terrible situation.
When the world is in terror, I’m glad there are many like Jonah who can give them wisdom of what to do to be “saved” and delivered from the disaster. But too many are living like Jonah and causing people in fear to ask why they should turn to a God that they themselves are willing to live for and follow. Some people will never ask the 2nd question because they are too confused by the “Jonah’s” answer to the first. I’m glad Jonah ultimately decides to obey God, but don’t be a “Jonah” in how you live. It just confuses people and can encourage them to live in fear longer.