Series: Jonah: The Gospel of Grace
Subtitle: Jonah Did the Unexpected (Part 4 of 4)
Scripture: Jonah 1:11-16
Subject: The Sinning Prophet
Scope: Jonah sinned against God by attempting to run from the presence of God, who sent a storm in order to convict Jonah of sin by the use of the pagan sailors, who threw Jonah into the sea because of his sin. (Central Point of the Text)
Scheme: To provide motivation for my people to resist the temptation to sin against God (Purpose of the Sermon)
Scrutiny: What did Jonah do that was completely unexpected?
Solution: The passage before us describes four (4) details outlining the unexpected actions of Jonah – the defiant servant, the devastating storm, the determined search, and the desperate solution.
Main Idea: Jonah sinned against God.
Supporting idea #1 - Jonah sinned against God by running away from God
Supporting idea #2 - Jehovah sends a storm to identify Jonah’s as a sinner
Supporting idea #3 - Jehovah uses the pagan sailors to bring Jonah’s sin to light
Supporting idea #4 - Jonah is thrown into the sea because of his sin
Take your bibles and please open them once again to the book of Jonah. We have been working our way through chapter one for the past few weeks. And Lord willing, it appears that we just might finish chapter one today.
Well, at least through verse 16. I think the chapter break is at the end of verse 16 and verse 17 actually goes with the next segment.
We are working our way through a series that I have called Jonah: A Gospel of Grace. A careful and diligent study of this minor prophet will display the glorious grace of our wonderful God in each and every chapter. This little prophecy, although we have determined it to be more of a historical narrative rather than a prophecy, is filled with God’s great grace.
We are looking at the subject or the theme, Jonah did the unexpected. Today is the fourth and final message concerning this theme.
[Let’s take a few minutes and begin with a brief…]
We began with this series with the fact that Jonah has done something that no other prophet has ever done before. He has disobeyed his instructions and attempted to run away by going in the opposite direction. Jonah has tried to remove himself from his commission to go to Nineveh and preach God’s word to them.
In the book of Jonah we can see at least four major actions performed by Jonah. We have spent a number of weeks looking at the first action described in Chapter one. What is that first action?
The first action described in our passage is:
1A Jonah Does the Unexpected (Vss. 1-16)
The fact that Jonah did the unexpected in this chapter is clearly seen by four (4) details. We have established these details as: the defiant servant, the devastating storm, the determined search, and the desperate solution.
[We have already looked at the first detail. This first detail shows Jonah to be…]
1B The Defiant Servant (vss. 1-3)
Jonah tried to escape God’s call on his life to travel to Nineveh and speak God’s word to the Ninevites. Jonah was defiant! He ran away from God. He got up and deliberately bought a ticket on a ship headed the opposite direction that God has directed him to.
[So, Jonah does the unexpected by being the defiant servant!]
We then looked at the second detail that demonstrated that Jonah did the unexpected in verses 4-6 of chapter one. The second detail showed us…
2B The Devastating Storm (vss. 4-6)
When we looked at this storm we saw three (3) very important facts about this devastating storm. We saw…
The source of the storm – Jehovah himself hurled this extremely powerful storm down upon the sea, the ship, and the sleeper – Jonah the Prophet.
The strength of the storm – this was no ordinary storm. It was powerful and it was breaking up the ship. This storm raged against the ship, it agitated the waters. The storm was violent! It was breaking up the ship.
The significance of the storm – it was designed by Jehovah to uncover the sin and guilt of Jonah. The sailors were terribly afraid for their lives, they were throwing the cargo and anything that wasn’t nailed down overboard. This was all the while Jonah, the guilty party was sound asleep.
As the Captain was inspecting his ship and the damage that she had sustained, he discovered sleeping beauty sound asleep in the bottom of the ship.
And so, Jonah continues to do the unexpected in this section. In spite of the ship being subjected to a very devastating storm, Jonah lays down and goes to sleep. Not just a sleep, but a deep sleep.
[So Jonah does the unexpected during the devastating storm – he goes to sleep]
[The third detail that we looked at the third detail that showed us that Jonah did the unexpected and we called that…]
3B The Determined Search (vss. 7-10)
This portion reminded us that sin will always find us out. The sailors decided to search for the source of their problem. The crew had a flash of inspiration which led them to cast lots until the lots identified Jonah as the guilty party. The crew interrogated Jonah until they got out of him the information that they were looking for.
[The crew has found the source of their trouble, they have found the guilty party.]
[Jonah does the unexpected during the determined search by keeping silent.]
This leads us then to our…]
TRUTH FOR TODAY
As we move to the final section, the obvious question that comes to mind, is what do they do now? Well, we discover what they do as we move to the fourth detail in our passage which is…
4B The Desperate Solution (vss. 11-16)
The sailors are in a very desperate situation. This storm is first, of divine doing, and second, it is about to break the ship apart. This in all probability means that all hands on deck will drown, they will die.
It is a well-known fact that desperate situations often call for desperate measures. As a matter of fact certain actions that might have been completely rejected under normal circumstances might seem to now be the most obvious solution.
Some people loose rationality and take some extremely desperate actions in an attempt to alleviate their problems.
· Here in Vancouver, WA a mother was so hopelessly broke and unable to care for her baby that she believed there was just one desperate solution. She stood in front of a Taco Bell and offered to sell her baby for 500 to 5000 dollars.
[Another example of absolute desperation…]
· A woman on the morning she realized her husband and son would learn the family was losing their house, Carlene Balderrama, 53, faxed a note to the mortgage company, then went to the basement and shot herself. “I hope you’re more compassionate with my husband than you were with me,” she wrote in a suicide note left for the company.
Clearly these are examples of extreme desperation that are totally unacceptable. But the reality is, some people when pushed to their ‘limit’ take desperate actions.
As we examine this section of chapter one it becomes very clear that both the crew of this ship and Jonah opt for a very desperate solution to their problem. Under normal circumstances this solution would have been unacceptable. The sailors were desperate and their fear pushed them to their limits.
This section points out four (4) aspects of their desperate solution.
[The first aspect pointed out is…]
1C The Reaction of the Sailors (vs. 11)
“Then they said to him, ‘What shall we do to you that the sea be clam for us?’ For the seas was growing more tempestuous.”
The crew reacts to what Jonah had told them. In verse ten (10), the men became extremely frightened when Jonah had talked during their interrogation. His answers sent them over the edge.
“Why have you done this?” For the men knew that he had fled from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them.”
Why should this rattle them so much?
Why should they be so afraid?
I think it is because the sailors knew that they were not dealing with an ordinary criminal, or even a regular “sinner.”
They now knew that Jonah was a ‘God-fearer,’ he was a servant of Jehovah and that Jonah had disobeyed Jehovah.
This was serious business folks. In their culture the correct response to any of their many gods was crucial. Whatever action that had to be taken to punish Jonah and to appease Jonah’s God had to absolutely correct. They knew that whatever they had to do to placate Jonah’s God had to be the right thing to do.
So, they reacted to Jonah’s revelation by asking, “What do we need to do to get the storm to stop. The storm is still raging on against the ship. The rain is still falling and the waves are still violently agitated. In all probability it’s lightning and thundering.
Their reaction showed that they were afraid to do the wrong thing, to take the wrong action against Jonah. They did not want to punish Jonah wrongly. They did not want to displease his God.
As far as they were concerned Jonah had already did enough, just by coming aboard their ship. That was obvious because nothing they had done, even with their impromptu pagan prayer meeting had caused the storm to cease.
It seems their idea was, let Jehovah punish Jonah himself. This seems to be a really good idea since they don’t have a clue as to how Jehovah wants Jonah punished or what Jehovah would require in a case like this. What do you do to a runaway prophet?
And so, the sailors ask Jonah, ‘What do we do to you that the sea may be calm for us…?’
[This question points out the second aspect of their desperate situation. We move from the reaction of the sailors to…]
2C The Response to the Sailors (vs. 12)
“And he [Jonah] said to them, ‘Pick me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will become calm for you. For I know that this great tempest is because of me.’”
First of all, if these sailors were hoping for a confession of some kind, they sure got one.
Second, Jonah’s response was possibly less shocking to the sailors than it might be to you or me. You see, the sailors believed that the god of the sea had been offended in some way and this god needed to be appeased by some type or kind of sacrifice.
“He does not refuse, or prevaricate (avoid the issue), or deny; but, having made confession concerning this flight, he willingly endures the punishment, desiring to perish, and not let others perish on his account.” (Cited on p. 396 in Keil & Delitzsch)
Keil & Delitzsch
“Jonah confesses that he has deserved to die for his rebellion against God, and that the wrath of God which has manifested itself in the storm can only be appeased by his death. He pronounces this sentence, not by virtue of any prophetic inspiration, but as a believing Israelite who is well acquainted with the severity of the justice of the holy god, both from the law and from the history of his nation.” 
Jonah is in effect saying, ‘Hand me over to my God. I am the guilty one. Let my God punish me and you will be saved.’
Why would Jonah come to this conclusion? It seems severe and no pun intended, to be ‘overboard.’
It is quite possible that since the lots fell on Jonah identifying him as the ‘guilty party,’ that the only logical conclusion that he come to was that this storm was not an ordinary storm, but that the storm came from a divine origin, from Jehovah Himself.
So it seems that Jonah was willing to be handed over to his God for whatever punishment might come. Jonah apparently wanted to be in the hands of God.
Let’s stop here for a minute and consider a few things.
Writer of Hebrews
“For we know Him who said, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the LORD. And again, ‘The LORD will judge His people. Then the writer says this, ‘It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.’ [Hebrews 10:30-31, NKJV]
God is a long-suffering and patient. God is loving and gracious. But when someone turns their back on God there is nothing left for God to do. The only thing that remains is judgment.
Now, I know that this passage refers to someone who rejects the salvation offered in Jesus Christ. But even so, I think we can agree that even for believers the chastening hand of God can be severe and more than we would want to endure.
Let me also say this also, it appears that falling into God’s hand seems to be better and more preferable than to fall into the hands of man.
When David numbered the people of Israel
(2Sa 24:10) And David's heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David said unto the LORD, I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now,
I beseech thee, O LORD, take away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly.
(2Sa 24:11) For when David was up in the morning, the word of the LORD came unto the prophet Gad, David's seer, saying,
(2Sa 24:12) Go and say unto David, Thus saith the LORD, I offer thee three things; choose thee one of them, that I may do it unto thee.
(2Sa 24:13) So Gad came to David, and told him, and said unto him, Shall seven years of famine come unto thee in thy land? or wilt thou flee three months before thine enemies, while they pursue thee? or that there be three days' pestilence in thy land? now advise, and see what answer I shall return to him that sent me.
(2Sa 24:14) And David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait: let us fall now into the hand of the LORD; for his mercies are great: and let me not fall into the hand of man.
(2Sa 24:15) So the LORD sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning even to the time appointed: and there died of the people from Dan even to Beersheba seventy thousand men.
David would rather fall into God’s hands than man’s hands because David believed that he could count on God being more merciful and gracious than man would have been. David had the most potential for mercy.
Jonah was willing to be handed over to God.
However, we also note from this passage that Jonah did not exhibit any repentance. He did not repent of:
· Disobeying God and running away from his assignment
· Endangering the lives of the crew, the ship, or cargo
As a matter of fact, look at verse twelve (12) again. (Read verse). It appears that Jonah would rather die than repent, and go back to Nineveh.
I don’t think for a minute that Jonah thought that if the sailors threw him overboard that he would be somehow saved. I think Jonah knew he would drown. He would be lost. But Jonah was convinced of at least one thing:
“Pick me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will become calm for you. For I know that his great tempest is because of me.”
So, we see the second aspect pointed out in regards to this desperate solution. Let’s move to the third aspect pointed out in our passage and that is…
3C The Recognition of the Sailors (vss. 13-15)
Verses 13-15 depict a very traumatic story. Their situation is extremely dangerous. Any minute they may lose the ship and their lives.
Regardless of their background, their skill, their experience, or their religious convictions, these sailors seem to be too kind, too humanitarian, or even to afraid of Jonah’s God to comply with Jonah’s instructions.
Verse thirteen (13) begins with the words, “Nevertheless…” The general meaning of nevertheless is “despite what you just told me to do and why you told me to do that; we are not going to do that.
It seems to me when we look at verses thirteen (13) to sixteen (16), we can see at least three (3) things that they recognized.
1D First, they recognized the value of Jonah’s person (13)
“…the men rowed hard to return to land, but they could not, for the sea continued to grow more tempestuous against them.”
They did not want to be responsible for sending Jonah to his death, we will see this a little more clearly in the next verse.
But it seems they may have thought, ‘If this storm is his fault and the only way to save ourselves is to get him off the ship, let’s row to land and put him ashore. Then maybe this infernal storm will quit.’
So, what did they do?
They rowed hard, as hard as they could row. Literally, it says they ‘dug deep down into the water.’ They gave it their all. They worked as hard as they could to move the ship toward land.
They did not want to be responsible for Jonah’s death nor did they want to be punished for killing him.
But, they couldn’t do it. No matter hard they rowed, or how hard they dug deep into the water with the oars, the storm blew harder and harder and the waves grew more agitated and violent.
[They recognized the value of human life, the value of Jonah’s life.]
2D Second, they recognized the value of Jonah’s prescription (vs. 14)
“Therefore they cried out to the LORD and said, ‘We pray O LORD…”
Since the storm was growing worse it made getting to shore out of the question.
So, what did they do?
They prayed. They had a short and impromptu prayer meeting. They didn’t pray to their individual gods. No, they prayed to Jonah’s God. Their prayer is actually very interesting. It consists of three (3) important insights:
· First – “…please do not let us perish for this man’s life…” Do not let us die because we are going to take his life in order to save our ship.
· Second – “…and do not charge us with innocent blood…” Don’t make us the responsible agents for his death which would subject us to penalties.
BTW, when the used the term ‘innocent,’ they were excusing or exonerating Jonah of his sin, they simply recognized that no human court had convicted him and pronounced a sentence upon him.
· Thirdly – “…for you O LORD have done as it pleased you.”
What did they mean by that phrase?
This phrase meant that these sailors recognized that God was responsible and had purposed the chain of events that led them to this desperate solution of throwing Jonah overboard in order to save themselves.
These sailors recognized at least three (3) distinct principles:
o They recognized that God sent the storm
o They recognized that God controlled the lots
o They recognized that God owned Jonah
What they were implying in their prayer with this recognition of these principles was, ‘Hey, we are not responsible; we have been drug into this desperate solution because you brought us in like pawns. All of these events are under your control so don’t hold us accountable or responsible. We are not guilty of what we are going to do.
What were they about to do? Verse fifteen tells us what they were going to do.
3D Third, they recognized the value of Jonah’s passing (15-16)
The sailors did three (3) unique things.
· First – the threw Jonah overboard
“So they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea…”
After everything failed – their prayer and their valiant attempt to row to shore failed, they did what Jonah had told them to do – they hurled him into the sea.
First of all, the storm did not grow any more violent or powerful.
Second, the ship did not break up nor did the sailors drown.
What happened was…
“…and the sea ceased from its raging.”
The sea immediately calmed. The ship was safe, the sailors were safe. There desperate solution which consisted of throwing Jonah overboard worked, it was the right solution, desperate or not.
· Second unique thing they did was…
“Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly…”
The immediate cessation of the storm confirmed that Jehovah was really in control of all things, including the sea.
It literally says “they feared the LORD with great fear.”
The verb fear means to respect, to reverence, or to be afraid. It used in connection with the meaning “to fear God.” This type of reverence, awe, or fear causes people to believe or to behave morally.
The word “fear” is used in”
§ Vs. 5 – fear the storm
§ Vs. 9 – Jonah fears God
§ Vs. 10 – sailors fear Jonah’s response
§ Vs. 16 – fear God
[An example of what our word means…]
When the new Pharaoh who never knew Joseph came into power, he saw the children of Israel as a potentially powerful enemy. He attempted to reduce the eventual number of the Israelites by having the midwives kill any and all new born baby boys. But what do we know? “…the midwives “feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the male children alive.”
It is the same word which gives the idea leading one to keep God’s commandments, Deut. 6:2.
· Thirdly – “…and offered a sacrifice to the LORD and took vows.”
This fear is a submissive awe which manifests itself in some form or degree of repentance. At the very least these paganistic and polytheistic sailors recognized the God of Israel.
We do not know what it means, “and offered a sacrifice to the LORD…”
It would have been rare to have any animals on board at this time. Not to mention they threw overboard large furniture, gear, and the cargo.
This might have been evidence of conversion. We cannot read that into the text and we must be careful.
Again we don’t know what type of sacrifice was offered nor do we know the nature of the vows that they made.
“…sacrifice could hardly have occurred on board the ship, denuded of its cargo…the transportation of edible animals on ocean-going ships was as infrequent in ancient times as in modern…and that in all the religions of the ancient Near East, as far as the evidence is known, sacrifices too place at shrines or temples.” 
Smith & Page
“Therefore they probably made vows to offer sacrifices and fulfilled those vows after they reached land.” 
We must be very careful here and not attempt to read something into the text that it doesn’t say. By that I mean, there isn’t enough here to say conclusively that these actions signify that these sailors were converted.
There seems to be no doubt that they knew enough to recognize that the storm they endured was sent by Jonah’s God and that Jonah was a disobedient servant of His God. If they knew more than that we don’t know.
Let me quote Stuart one more time to maybe make this idea a little more clearly:
“…the statement that they ‘greatly feared’ the LORD would hardly mean to the ancient audience that they crew had been converted to monotheistic Yahwism. They had, however, been so convinced that Yahweh really could do as he wanted that they added Yahweh to the god (s) they already believed in.” 
It would be great if we could convincingly state that these sailors had been converted and continued in the worship of God, but we don’t know what happened to them after they threw Jonah into the sea.
So, we conclude this third aspect that Jonah pointed out in regards to the sailor’s desperate solution. The sailors recognized the value of Jonah’s person, the value of Jonah’s prescription, and the value of Jonah’s passing.
This also brings us to the close of this first section of our study of Jonah: The Gospel of Grace. We have been looking at Jonah: The Sinning Prophet.
Jonah sinned against God by attempting to run from the presence of God, who sent
a storm in order to convict Jonah of sin by the use of the pagan sailors, who threw
Jonah into the sea because of his sin. (Central Point of the Text)
My purpose for these messages is to provide motivation for you to resist the
temptation to sin against God (Purpose of the Sermon)
[What do you say we wrap this up?]
 C. F. Keil & F. Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Vol. 10, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1973), p. 396
 Douglas Stuart, World Biblical Commentary: Hosea – Jonah, Vol. 31, (Waco: Word Books Publisher, 1987), p. 464-465
 Billy K. Smith & Frank S. Page, The New American Commentary: Amos, Obadiah, Joel, Vol. 19b, (Nashville: B & H Publishing Group, 1995), p. 238
 Stuart, Hosea-Jonah, 464