11 The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?”
12 “Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.”
13 Instead, the men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before.14 Then they cried out to the LORD, “Please, LORD, do not let us die for taking this man’s life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, LORD, have done as you pleased.” 15 Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. 16 At this the men greatly feared the LORD, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows to him.
Here we see Jonah in a good light. He is not all bad! Jonah offers to sacrifice himself in order to calm the sea and save the ship.
The sailors show themselves to be honourable. They try to avoid sacrificing Jonah by doing their best to row back to land. The sailors’ care for Jonah contrasts with his lack of care for the people of Nineveh.
However, the sea becomes even wilder and the sailors accept Jonah’s offer to throw him overboard. The storm is then calmed.
Now the sailors cry out, not each to his own god, but to the LORD. The sailors’ openness to God is greater than that of the prophet! They ask the LORD to pardon them for killing Jonah; they fear the LORD, offer sacrifice and make vows to Him.
God has acted through Jonah to bring the sailors to acknowledge Him. Despite the sailors not being in God’s initial mission for Jonah, God has used Jonah’s disobedience to carry out His rescue mission. Be careful. This is no excuse for disobedience! However, it does give us great confidence in the LORD’s providential work in the world – even through our mistakes and disobedience, the LORD is sovereign.
Pursuing God, I thank you for never giving up on us. Thank you for pursuing us wherever we may be, at all times and in all circumstances. Please bring men and women, girls and boys, to become Jesus’ disciples. Thank you for finding me. Give me your heart for all people. Amen.