Thursday, March 3, 2016

Jonah 1:10-14

Jonah 1:10-14
1:10 - 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.
The confrontation by many reaches a crescendo with "How could you do this?", which, given the intensity of the situation, might better be rendered, "HOW COULD YOU DO THIS????!?!?!?!!!!"

We find out several things in this verse.
1. Jonah told the sailors the reason for his journey. The sailors probably didn't think much of the information at the time as in their minds, regional gods could be run away from. Of course, when Jonah revealed which God he was running away from, the information became extremely important.

2. The fear of the Lord is put into the sailors' hearts. The evidence surrounds them of this God's power, and they are deeply afraid. What is interesting is that the sailors realize the stark reality of the situation, and Jonah is still in rebellion in the face of all that is happening.

3. All of the questions coalesce into "How could you do this?" The question is loaded with implications and accusations:
How could you put us in danger?
How could you run from this kind of god?
How could you not repent at all that has happened?
How could you not pray for God to relent in the storm?
How could you not care about our livelihood as we tossed the cargo overboard because of the storm?
How could you not even care about our lives???

An interesting contrast is presented here: Jonah says that he fears the Lord and acts differently. The sailors didn't fear the Lord, but when the source of the storm is finally revealed, they display in their question and subsequent actions, the fear of the Lord.

1:11 - 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.
Who better to ask about directions for appeasing the angry god than the one who is angering him?

Two things stand out:
The sailors are asking what they should do to appease Jonah's angry God. They don't plead with Jonah to do something. They don't force Jonah into repentance or prayer for relief from the storm. They recognize that Jonah ain't gonna do squat for them. What a sad reflection on God's prophet.

The second is that the storm continues to not only rage but also grow in intensity. God continues to apply the pressure on Jonah by the means of the storm's effect on the sailors (and Jonah). God continues to call Jonah to repentance throughout this whole chapter. At any time during this discipline, Jonah could have called out in repentance, and I believe, God would have stopped the storm, turned the ship around and proceeded with the plan for Nineveh.

1:12 - 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.”
Jonah is not even willing to throw himself overboard in order to save the crew and the ship!! How hard Jonah's heart is! He is willing to die at the hands of pagan sailors, but is unwilling to sacrifice himself to save them.

Here is the first indication that, as Jonah will voice later, he would rather die than go to Nineveh. I believe that the original audience would view Jonah as being in the right and even as being noble for allowing the sailors to throw him overboard. I believe that they would also be impressed that Jonah would be willing to die rather than allow Nineveh the opportunity to avoid God's judgment on them. They still would be firmly in Jonah's camp.

Note Jonah's passivity. Much like Adam did in the garden, Jonah stands passively by while he has the means and knowledge to stop events from spinning out of control. Adam could have stopped his wife from partaking of the tree, and Jonah could have stopped the storm at any time by turning back to God. Sadly, neither one manned up.

1:13 - However, the men rowed desperately to return to land but they could not, for the sea was becoming even stormier against them.
The pagans show a lot of concern for one man (in stark contrast to Jonah's indifference to a lot of souls) as they desperately row to make landfall. But God's storm gets even worse, and they are given no other option but to throw Jonah overboard.

The godless ones act more godly than God's prophet in their efforts to save Jonah from himself, but as they are fighting against God Himself, their efforts are in vain. The original audience may have even snickered at the sailors' attempts to go against the LORD God while not even recognizing Jonah's feeble plan to escape from God's will.

1:14 -  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.”
Finally God's will in this trial is realized in the pagans. They repent of their fighting against God and give in to His will: Throw Jonah into the sea.

They pray for deliverance from the LORD. They pray for forgiveness for the "innocent blood" of Jonah. They recognize that the LORD is doing just as He has pleased. In this short prayer, the sailors display a remarkable understanding of the LORD God and fully repent/relent of their actions.

And Jonah does none of this. God's discipline causes everyone on the ship to turn to Him except the one who is the target of that discipline. Once again, look at how hard Jonah's heart is.

Paragraph summary
This paragraph is the climax of the first section/chapter. The confrontation by many, the raging fury of the storm, and the terrified sailors culminate into the question "How could you do this?" One could almost hear the LORD God Himself asking this question of Jonah as he fights against the all powerful " Lord God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land.”

When the sailors reach the absolute end of everything in their power to do, they turn to the Lord. They, instead of Jonah, cry out to the one true God for deliverance not only from the storm but also from the "innocent blood" of taking Jonah's life. The pagans repent and believe; the prophet does not.

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