The captain came up to him and said, “What’s this? Sleeping! Get up! Pray to your god! Maybe your god will see we’re in trouble and rescue us.” Jonah 1:6
Jonah gets a bad rap in his story. A local prophet who willfully disobeys God’s direct message, gets eaten alive by a massive fish, is vomited up on the beach and then makes a 600 mile road trip on foot finally following God’s directions. Then Jonah turns out to be a racist who isn’t happy when God doesn’t give bad people the blow they deserve. (After all, in Jonah’s mind, the Assyrians Jonah was sent to preach to didn’t deserve God’s love and forgiveness.)
Jonah had some serious major flaws (like all the rest of us), but his story is actually very encouraging. Through Jonah’s shortcomings God was able to reach people who would have never been able to hear about God’s saving grace otherwise.
Imagine being the captain of the boat that Jonah boarded to get away from God’s mission. Here’s your everyday work-a-day Joe who comes within an inch of losing his life and everything he’s ever worked for in a catastrophic storm God sends.
Many think this storm was sent to punish Jonah for his disobedience… But what if this storm’s primary purpose was to rock the captain’s security in what he believed?
If Jonah had never run away, the captain would’ve never been confronted with a power greater than his own gods could deal with. The entire crew of the ship would’ve never faced a life-or-death situation with a God who was really doing it to call attention to how much he cared for all for them. God was waiting in the storm, ready to save them, ready to come close to them. And the fact that God was someone who longed to save people from their problems was something Jonah still didn’t understand by the end of his story.
Jonah certainly was not the epitome of a good person. He wasn’t even an example of a nice guy. Jonah wasn’t walking in his calling like a “good” believer. Jonah didn’t even believe in the purpose of the mission God had given him. He thought it was a useless cause. But through Jonah’s complete disobedience, the Captain and crew were all saved and converted–making that first part of the story a mission accomplished!
— By Daly Kay Reback —