Considering .... Jonah
Jonah, was not only a child of God, a Hebrew, and a prophet of God ~ but, he was also a statesman, the most famous man next to the king, in his nation Gath-hepher.
A man of such prominence and status, what would people think and react like in what he was to do that God had ordained and commissioned him to do and say? Why, was he in particular the one that God saw fit to choose for such a time as this, warning Ninevah, that great city? Go to them with a message of doom and Judgment, warning them of God's impending Judgment coming upon them for their cruelty and theft of the poor, their selfish control over them and their lives, and their idolatry and sinfulness against God and His laws, in many areas? Then, now and always ~~~ God knowing our heart, knows exactly who He can count on to do what He wants and/or commands them to say and do to whomever. Such was the case with Jonah. (although you surely wouldn't have known this in his first response)
The Book of Jonah was written by Jonah himself, declaring the situation of things, with no attempt to excuse his own show of disobedience. In Jonah's life, we see God's love, patience and mercy; how He waited upon and ultimately dealt with man's sinfulness and rebellion against Him. We see the priority issue made quite clear, and again, this accounting offers to us today, lessons regarding what we should/should not do. Therein, we see God's desire fulfilled, and His reward upon the repentant and the obedient.
Jonah was called of God to prolong the life of the enemy nation which was already in the process of exterminating his own nation. Wow! This, no doubt, is one of the reasons he disobeyed God at the first (until he got himself into the first 'submarine' ride ever for disobeying God....i.e. the belly of a whale). Study books say this, plus that he disobeyed because of patriotic dread of a brutal and relentless military machine which was closing in on God's people. Now, let's consider the events and reactions of the people written therein.
Jonah 1: 1 ~ 12
" Now The Word of The Lord came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before Me. But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from The Presence of The Lord, (as if this...is even 'possible'....duh!) and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from The Presence of The Lord. But The Lord sent out a Great Wind into the Sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the Sea, so that the ship was like to be broken. Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the Sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep. So the shipmaster came to him, and said unto him, What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not. 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 dry 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. Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee, that the Sea may be calm unto us? for the Sea wrought, and was tempestuous. And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the Sea; so shall the Sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you."
And, Chapter 1: vs. 14 ~ 17
" Wherefore they cried unto The Lord, and said, We beseech Thee, O Lord, we beseech Thee, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not upon us innocent blood: for Thou, O Lord, hast done as it pleased Thee. So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the Sea: and the Sea ceased from her raging. Then the men feared The Lord exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto The Lord, and made vows. Now The Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights."
(what a way for those mariners to stop....calling on 'their gods' and to learn to believe in The God of Heaven and earth! One quickie lesson given to all of them from The Master, through Divine Intervention and whalla!.....all of them were believers, prayed and made promises to Him. Chuckles!)
There are many thoughts I had as I read this Book through again. There are several things we each can learn and apply to our self and our life with God....if we will. First, Jonah was sound asleep on the ship, off in his own little corner, while the Sea tossed from God's Wrathful Wind He sent. Jonah had temporary peace of mind and soul after he disobeyed God. This, in itself, greatly deludes the mind of people who embrace disobedience to God as 'their' way of life. It is best described as a 'false sense of security'. One is lulled into a temporary sleep, Spiritually speaking. Of course, this is the devil's playground to work against a soul; then, he likes to sock-the-gas to you, because .... you've opened the door to him and his buddies, by disobeying God's way of being. So, here's the first result of disobedience. Second, God in His Anger ~sent a Storm from Heaven, Divinely Intervening and getting the time and attention of all of them. He had a purpose, a plan, and for sure He was going to get it done. Jonah had lessons to learn. And, the mariners had 'their gods' they called upon, needing to come into the realm of Faith in God Almighty, The One Who rules this entire Universe~The Great I AM! Hallelujah. Third, they saw they were not left to fate nor to happenstance, any more than any of us are today. They each had terms to come to. Coming to terms with their self and God Himself, in Repentance, i.e. 'a change of mind, a turn around'. Then, they made promises to God. Then, they were willing to do whatEVER it took to spare their lives out there in the middle of the raging and scary Sea.
Fourth, notice their child-like faith and trust? They asked Jonah who he was, where he was from, and why he had even tried...to flee from The Presence of The Lord. Then they asked the key question, 'What shall we do to you man, so that we are safe, and the Sea becomes calm again?!' He said, 'throw me overboard!' Yeh, sure! WHOA! Notice, they asked who, where, why and what?! I can relate to those questions.......and I'm sure you can also. Chuckles.
Well now, if that wouldn't be enough to put The Fear of God into a person, I don't know what would! Could you have done that? Could you throw someone overboard in the middle of the Sea? Yet Jonah's reply was that the Sea would settle when they did so to him. They prayed and prayed and asked God to forgive them for what they were about to do. This is serious stuff here. It isn't an every day event to be experienced, and if you'd tell anyone about it they would probably think you were half-daffed in the head. Just like the part that when they did so, God had a great fish (whale) ready to swallow up and spare Jonah. ( while in his disobedient state, and causing a ruckus on all within the ship, endangering their...lives) What is this? God's love and mercy. Divine Intervention. The Great I AM with you always, even unto the end. 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.' (Jesus said) Hallelujah. Then, I just love this.....Jonah comes to his 'right mind', while he's in there, in the belly of the whale, with the water slushing him about, the seaweed wrapped and flapping around him, the smelly gassy inners of the whale...and look at those teeth!....and 'oh me! I've REALLY gotten myself into a pickle of a jam THIS time! Now what?!' Well, Jonah knew that he knew that he knew what....to do next, and he did it.
Jonah 2: 1 ~ 10
" Then Jonah prayed unto The Lord his God out of the fish's belly, And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto The Lord, and He heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and Thou heardest my voice. For Thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the Seas; and the floods compassed me about: all Thy billows and Thy waves passed over me. Then I said, I am cast out of Thy Sight; yet I will look again toward Thy Holy Temple. The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head. I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me forever: yet hast Thou brought up my life from corruption, O Lord my God. When my soul fainted within me I remembered The Lord: and my prayer came in unto Thee, into Thine Holy Temple. They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy. (Aha! Lesson learned?) But I will sacrifice unto Thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of The Lord. And The Lord spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land."