It's not just about the Whale!
I’ve been hearing your story since I was young. You were swallowed by a big fish, prayed to God, and got spit out. I recently reread your book in the Bible. Because it’s so easy to focus on the big fish portion of your story, I tried to focus on other aspects. I tried to read it more deeply in search of other truths besides the obvious one we learn as children. I didn't get very far before I latched on to how the sailors react to your presence on the boat. Here’s what I found.
First of all, God used the god-worshipping sailors to point out THE GOD. The storm has arrived. The sailors are sitting around casting lots to see who has offended the gods. You lose the toss. When you're asked about your background, you reveal that you are Hebrew and worship the Lord, the God of heaven. When the sailors find out that you're running from the Lord they freak out. It’s like, “What? It’s one thing to mess with our little gods, but messing with the God of heaven is totally not okay!”
Next, I find these sailors crying out to your God. Initially, they opted not to throw you into the sea. Instead they rowed harder than ever. Isn’t that just like us modern day folk – instead of going to God we often just row harder. When hard rowing didn’t produce results, the sailors cry out to the Lord, begging to be saved. They give God the credit for the storm and acknowledge that God has created these events for a reason.
Finally, the sailors are awestruck by the Lord’s great power! Yep, they go ahead and toss you into the turbulent sea. It’s as if they were saying, “You want him, God, you’ve got him. We got Your message even if he didn’t!” Here they are responding to God as if He was their God! When the sea is immediately calmed, they are in total amazement of God’s glorious power. They see it and go further even by offering a sacrifice and vowing to serve the Lord. That’s right – worshipping God!
Jonah, in your story, the sailors seem like extras in a play; they don’t get top billing, but look at how they responded to God’s power. They took action and believed. Obviously, God can use all situations to point us to Him. Like the sailors, we too must take action and believe.
I know there's more to the story, but there is so much just in the first bit!
I can't help but wonder, did these sailors ever see you again? Did they spread your story? Did their belief influence others. I guess that’s another story too…