“So they asked him, “Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?” He answered, “I am a Hebrew and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land.” This terrified them and they asked, “What have you done?” (They knew he was running away from the Lord, because he had already told them so.) ” (Jonah 1:8–10, NIV84)
There was no doubt in the sailor’s minds that a divine hand was involved in their stormy existence. They had weathered many storms before. Even storms that had brought some fear to the surface. But this storm was different. This storm was not giving up until it got what it wanted. They sensed the storm had a purpose. After they cast lots, pointing to Jonah as the responsible party, the interrogation began. Look at the questions. Study the depth of the questions. “From what people are you?” can be interpreted, “Who is your God?” They had never seen anything like what they were experiencing at that moment. A people group typically had a deity they worshipped. These sailors, in the midst of the storm, needed to know who Jonah’s God was. Look at Jonah’s answer, “I am a Hebrew and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land.” This terrified the sailors. At that moment, they had a healthier fear and respect for the God that Jonah believed in than Jonah did.
The remarkable thing to me in these 3 verses is that God forced Jonah to testify to who God is to foreign sailors. Jonah, who refused to go to Nineveh to testify to who God is, was forced to go, amidst the storm that threatened his life and the life of the crew. Through all that was going on in this scene God was using it to penetrate and teach the heart of Jonah. God pursued him and captured him. He reminded Jonah that He is God and Jonah was not. God is not just the Lord of heaven, the sea, and the land. He is the Lord of the heart of every man on that ship. And if God wants His Word to be spread, it will be spread. There is no use running. There is no use hiding.
Who has God placed in our lives that He wants to reach? Are we running away from the responsibility? Let’s learn from Jonah’s experience. It doesn’t pay to run from God, for His will gets done regardless.