Day 19. JONAH IN THE DEEP

Read Jonah 1:15-17. The sailors ask in desperation, ‘What can be done to make the sea calm down?’ (v.11) What indeed! The man in wilful flight from his calling and destiny is the man with the answer. God is not placated by inter-faith services (‘each cried to his own god’ (v.5), nor human efforts and good works (‘they threw cargo into the sea to lighten the ship’ (v.5), nor a ‘must try harder’ approach (‘the men did their best to row back to land’ v.13). God’s wrath is not easily appeased. No politician, educator, economist or guru can row us   safely back to land. God must show a ‘religious’ world that all of their best efforts are futile. God alone can save us! Often even the church reduces the Gospel to ‘good works’ as saving merit in God’s eyes. Consequently, God complains that we ‘heal the wound of my people lightly, saying ‘Peace, peace’, when there is no peace’ (Jer. 6:14). There’s no peace apart from Christ and his Cross where pardon and reconciliation with God was achieved.

Everybody Jonah meets in this book becomes a believer! Amazingly, he’s the most gifted evangelist in the OT! He shares the Gospel with these pagans, the message that he the Man of God must first die, before they these lost men can live. They believe it! The restless chaos of the destructive sea of God’s wrath is calmed the moment they kill their substitute, Jonah! He literally dies for them, so that they might live. But it was really God who drowned him (‘You hurled me into the deep’ (2:3a) Believe it or not, that is Gospel truth!

With Jonah, we all have to realize that the Father’s sentence of death is on us, until Jesus undoes this by dying for us (John 12:24 ‘Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground’). We usually fight that realization to the very end. We distance ourselves from evangelists who tell us this. We think that God is just a builder, not a destroyer as well. But God can only undo our sin by killing us, or killing our substitute. There has to be both a negative judgement and then a positive of renewal. We think we can skip the former. We try cosmetic changes, a new outfit, a ‘make-over’, spiritual ‘snake-oil’ remedies. There are plenty of fresh ideas and new initiatives guaranteed to ‘renew the church’ and ‘bring revival – or your money back!’ But we are all beyond human help now. So God saved our lives by planning that another Saviour should die for us, in our place, for our peace. 

Plead with God to help you make this Gospel more widely known!