by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions
Jonah 1:14, 16 Therefore they cried out to the Lord and said, "We pray, O Lord, please do not let us perish for this man's life, and do not charge us with innocent blood; for You, O Lord, have done as it pleased You."
Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice to the Lord and took vows.
While most read the story of Jonah focusing on Jonah's journey, I want to pause and examine the lives of the pagan sailors. What a journey they were on! We see the hand of God touching them providentially through Jonah's disobedience. Talk about God bringing good from evil. Here He draws them into a desperate sea voyage and almost incidentally reveals to them the impotence of their gods, who have no power whatsoever to stop the deadly storm. In their total helplessness the God of Heaven then introduces Himself through his runaway prophet. And suddenly, the sailors are crying out to YHVH.
They are not crying out to their gods any longer – but now are crying to the true God of Israel.
And God performs a miracle for them, when Jonah is tossed into the sea, the storm suddenly calmed... and the amazing miracle evokes what sounds like prophesying, as they offer sacrifices and vows in worship to YHVH. "For You, O Lord, have done as you pleased!" The whole crew is converted. So, while Jonah is fish food – there's a revival happening on board.
And now these wonder struck sailors have quite a fish story to tell in all their subsequent travels concerning the wayward prophet who disappeared beneath the waves as his God stilled the perfect storm. And the Lord has a boat full of newborn missionaries heading to Tarshish...
Our God desires all people throughout the world to hear His message. His providence is such that anywhere His servants find themselves becomes a place and a moment of opportunity for Him. The apostle Paul writes to Timothy "Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; [2 Timothy 4:2] Even Jonah's gross disobedience didn't stop the Lord from using him as a testimony. We need to be aware of who we are and what we carry for Yeshua (Jesus). His love and faithfulness to us is such that even our discipline can become a vehicle for expressing His love to the world.