Daily Reading: Jonah 1
“… I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land.“Jonah 1:9b
Over the years, I’ve shared many times, that one of the saddest days in my life was the day that a co-worker told me that he did not know I was a Christian. I had been working for this company almost two years and had interacted with this individual regularly during that time. When those fretful words, “I didn’t know you were a believer,” came out of his mouth, my heart sunk. I was filled with all sorts of questions such as, had my character not shown Christ? Did I never during this time talk about the Lord with him? And even, why had I not shared the Gospel with him. My heart wondered, were there others who did not know that I feared the Lord?
This middle section of chapter 1, finds Jonah in the midst of the Mediterranean Sea. He is on board a ship with a storm building. The unsaved do those things which would be expected of them, they seek their gods in search of something that will save them from this storm. Casting lots was something common in those days among the saved and the unsaved. Men believed in the supernatural, as one can hardly escape its very reality. We know it was God who caused the lot to fall on Jonah. He was the one after all who had truly brought this calamity on those who were around him. How would Jonah respond?
Jonah takes a step that you and I are called to take many times in life. Jonah must take the step to acknowledge in whom he placed his faith. Each person, regardless of their background, places their faith in someone. The atheist does not escape this reality; for even the atheist places mankind in the position of god, even if he or she does so unwittingly. Jonah however, acknowledges that his faith is in the God of the Israelites. Notice again, the use of God’s personal name by the use of small caps in the English bible ‘Lord‘. As a prophet, Jonah knew the Lord, and likely enjoyed a relationship with Him to some extent as he was able to detect the Lord’s calling for him to go to this depraved city.
This bold step set him apart, and those in the boat knew it. Just as the unsaved men of Jericho feared God (Joshua 6:1), so these who knew not Yahweh, but likely the things which He had done, feared for their lives. Not only did Jonah take a bold step in identifying his God, but he took ownership for the problem. As we will see in the last movement of this chapter, Jonah identifies his disobedience as the cause for the calamity his shipmates where in.
As believers, we need to constantly be reminded that our relationship with God was settled when we placed our faith in Jesus Christ as the one who took on sin for us and rose again. In our lives, however we should be aware that God will chasten us as His little children as we grow in dependence upon Him. (Hebrews 12:6) The Lord will never turn His back on you, but might certainly bring situations into your life to help you make the right choices. We should first and foremost be able to name Him as God publicly; we should also repent when we run from Him in disobedience!