Sunday, 23 January 2000 00:00

One Question With No Answer

Jonah 1:7-10 (KJV)

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. 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? 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 dray land. 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 finds himself in the middle of a storm in the Mediterranean Sea. He is running from God and the storm has been sent to not only get his attention, but to turn him around. However, in the middle of the storm it looks as if the ship is going to sink and all aboard are going to die. In a desperate attempt to find answers, the mariners cast lots and the lot fell upon Jonah Scripture teaches us that the Lord is in charge of even the minor events of life (Proverbs 16:33). The mariners then ask Jonah four rapid-fire questions ("What do you do? Where do you come from? Where is your country? Who are your people?" v.8). Jonah answers their questions by saying: "I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, which has made the sea and the dry land" (v.9).

  1. It is possible for God's greatest servants to grievously sin... "I fear the Lord..." (v.9).
    Jonah was not lying; he was telling the truth. This is Jonah; a child of the one true living God.
    1. He was part of a chosen people... "I am a Hebrew..." (v.9).
      Above all the peoples of the earth, not because of their size or number, but simply due to God's sovereign choice, the Hebrews were God's chosen people. Jonah knew this!
    2. He was orthodox in his faith... "God who made the sea and the dry land..." (v.9)
      Jonah knew the nature of God. There was no doubt in his mind as to Who was behind the storm, and Who was in charge of the storm. He was known of God and he knew his God.
    3. Yet Jonah fled from the Lord... "he fled from the presence of the Lord..." (v.10).
      May you always be aware that it is possible for you to run from God. Jonah did. You can. Humility is essential for a strong commitment. You are as capable of great sins as others.
  2. To be terrified of God is the opposite of trusting in God... "exceedingly afraid" (v.10)
    In verse five the mariners were "afraid" and in verse ten they are "exceedingly afraid." What is the difference? Why the augmented terror? What changes within these few verses?
    1. The natural has become supernatural...
      At first the mariners only saw the waves and felt the wind. Now God enters the picture. Belshazzar's face grew pale when he saw the handwriting on the wall, but his fear grew greater when Daniel explained what God said on the wall (Daniel 5:9; Daniel 5:30).
    2. The temporal is lost in the eternal...
      When someone is facing death, it is the thought of facing an offended God that terrifies. "Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matthew 10:28).
  3. There is one question asked with no answer gien... "Why have you done this?" (v.10).
    All the other questions evoked a response. This question is met with mute silence. Why? ; There is no good answer that could be given. So it is with all those that run from God's will. Are there any here about to commit sin? If so, you are deceived. The storm will come, and then injured companions will ask, "Why?" There is no good answer that can be given. None.
    1. When there is no answer, "Arise, call upon thy God".
      God is gracious and forgiving to those who give no excuse, but acknowledge their sin.
    2. God will forgive, but the journey home is not always easy.

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