““I am a Jew; I worship Jehovah, the God of heaven, who made the earth and sea.” Then he told them he was running away from the Lord…Then they picked up Jonah and threw him overboard into the raging sea—and the storm stopped! The men stood there in awe before Jehovah, and they sacrificed to Him and vowed to serve Him” (Jon 1:9-16; LB)
The boat looked like any ordinary boat. The seamen on duty did not know that soon they shall have an encounter with God, that their lives will be changed forever. The trip looked like any other. The route was the old Jewish port of Joppa, across the Great Sea and unto far away Tarshish in Spain. The passenger called Jonah stood in line with others bought his ticket. He then quietly went bellow, to the darkest part of the cabins. That third class cabin ticket was all his money could purchase. Anyway, this was not a pleasure trip he thought to himself. He was not ready to spend more money running away from the Lord. He went to his bunker and straight to sleep, trying to ignore this anxiety that Jehovah may locate him, in the belly of this old ship. But of one thing he was sure: he was not ready to go to that wicked city Nineveh and waste all his compassion on some stupid, idolatrous people for whom nobody cares. So he exchanged the anointing for ministry for a cheap cruise on the Mediterranean Sea.
Maybe God will forget… Maybe God will have mercy on him…Maybe God will forget saving the pagans…After all, Jehovah is his God, not theirs…Comforting himself, the prophet fell asleep…
For some time all things were quiet. Jonah slept on and off. He even indulged in a half smile, thinking that he outran God…Then suddenly, the ship started shaking…the wind started blowing like mad…the waves went up and down with a vengeance…No stars, no moon, no light at all…
The seamen tried to steady the ship. They did all they can to balance it on the angry waves. But nothing worked…Suddenly they knew that this storm was different than all others they’ve witnessed in the past. This was a strange storm…this was so unexpected…this was not even the season for storms- they said…something is wrong… the gods are angry, the gods are after them…
These were strong and hardened men, but the wind brought them to their knees. When all hope was gone, to their surprise, they found themselves praying… pleading with any god to have mercy on them all…They never prayed like this in all of their lives…Then one had an idea to cast lots, to find the guilty one, the one who offended the gods…and the lot fell on passenger number…Jonah Amittai….Who is this Jonah?… Anxiously, the Captain and all the rest went down below and found Jonah sleeping…This was a careless sleep of death…They asked him why sleep at such a time as this…he said that he was running from the God of Heaven, who created the land and the sea…the sea?…this was the man who had the boldness to enter a ship and ignore the call of God who made the sea…This is the call of the sea…Jonah has to go and meet the God of the sea…To save the rest of men, Jonah must die… then Jonah was thrown overboard…and suddenly the sea became quiet, satisfied with its offering…
The seamen fell down in awe, and worshiped Jehovah, the God of Jonah, the Creator God, the God who calls men to His service, the Jealous God, the God who purses His backsliding servants, the God who seeks and finds His own worshippers, the God who none can defeat, the God who accepts the death of one man, so that others may live…the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and our God forever! Among crew and passengers, brought together by an invisible hand and a strange call, revival has started on that old ship…
As you know, Jonah did not really die. The same God who provided the storm, also provided a big fish who swallowed and carried him free of charge to his primary place of ministry. This is not just the prophet’s testimony of repentance and restoration. It is also the story of how revival can come suddenly on a people who never dreamt of God before. It is the story of God’s compassion on pagans, on sinners, who need a Savior too.
This is a great lesson for us all, even as we pray for revival to come… When all things seem ‘normal’, in the midst of business as usual…suddenly, the power of God may hit your comfort zone and shake your boat. It may be losing a job, a sickness, pain, divorce…or it may look like death. But the storm is intended to humble you, to bring you to your knees before your Creator. Trapped between darkness and rough seas, in the midst of loneliness, loss and the anxiety of a million unanswered questions… you will meet with God. You will discover the power of prayer and the fragrance of worship to be the only Balm for your thirsty soul. The grace of God shall be your portion and revival your reward! Amen!
In Christ I declare:
I shall not die, but live and declare the wonderful things of God!
I am saved by the Blood of the Lamb!
I have answered the call to worship and serve God, forever!
The grace of God is upon me!
God has revived my heart!
I am healed and restored!
Revival shall come to this land!
In Jesus name