6.8 Jonah -- Jonah's Ordeal

Running away was not so easy as Jonah thought.  In the ancient world, it might have been possible to escape a local deity by fleeing from his or her territory.  But that did not work with a God who claimed to rule the whole earth.  God sent a violent storm against the ship, threatening to sink it.

       

There follows a telling series of contrasts between the chosen prophet of Israel and the pagan sailors on the boat:

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        -- Jonah was not a man with a troubled conscience.  While the sailors were frantically tossing the cargo overboard to lighten the ship, he slept through the storm (Jon 1:5).  Each of the sailors cried out to his god for deliverance.  They believed that the storm had a spiritual cause, and cast lots to see who among them was at fault (Jon 1:7).  
        --  The lot pointed to Jonah.  When the sailors heard that he was a Hebrew and that his God was the God of heaven, they were terrified (Jon 1:10).  Jonah told them to cast him overboard, and the sea would become calm.  Even though Jonah's disobedience had threatened their lives, the sailors resisted throwing him into the sea (Jon 1:12-13).  They valued his life more than he had valued theirs.

        -- after finally pitching Jonah overboard, they feared God, asked for forgiveness, and made sacrifices and vows to Him (Jon 1:14-16).

       

Jonah was swallowed by a large fish, and spent three days and nights inside it (Jon 1:17).  As Elijah fled from Jezebel and hid in a cave (1 Kings 19), so this fish was Jonah's sanctuary, a place of refuge, a "time out" from life -- and a meeting place with God.