— Jonah 1:9
In some ways we can think of Jonah’s experience as a kind of baptism. Jonah is a rebellious, runaway prophet who needs to repent, seek God again, and obey what he is called to do.
God called Jonah to preach a message of repentance to the people of Nineveh. But Jonah didn’t want to. The people of Nineveh were enemies of Israel, and Jonah wanted them destroyed. So he boarded a ship going the other way and tried to flee from God.
But God “sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up.” Where else have we seen God’s power at work in a wind on the sea? (Genesis 1:2; 8:1; and Exodus 14:21.) But here God created a storm and a different pathway for Jonah.
The sailors, who were terrified and cried out to their pagan gods for help, showed more respect for Jonah’s God than Jonah did. But at least Jonah admitted he had caused the problem, and he told the sailors to throw him overboard. When they finally did that, “the raging sea grew calm.”
Though Jonah was still trying to escape, God still wanted to call Nineveh to repent, so he sent “a huge fish” to swallow Jonah. And after three days, the monster fish vomited Jonah “onto dry land.” Here again, the sea should have meant death for one of God’s people (and many others) but God rescued Jonah to share his blessing and grace.
Lord, guide us not to run from you, whatever you may call us to do. Forgive us, we pray, and pull us back to follow your way for us. Amen.