God continued to pursue the disobedient Jonah. He is not out to punish Jonah, but to turn him around and restore him. Even with this, Jonah’s actions of disobedience have consequences for others. After Jonah boards the ship, he goes below and lays down for a long nap. Meanwhile, up on deck, the sailors are fighting the storm. The sailors who have probably seen many storms are so frightened that they fear for their lives. The text gives us insight into the sailor’s worldview – they each begin to call on the gods they know. But they are also realists, and they begin to toss the cargo overboard to lighten the load. This was most likely a cargo ship that carried a few passengers.
Now Jonah’s disobedience had just affected the shippers of this cargo – they lost it to the sea. And the people who were to receive the goods are also out of luck. Neither of these groups know anything about Jonah or his disobedience, but their lives are still affected by Jonah’s decisions and actions.
We live in such an individualistic culture that we forget our actions influence others. Our actions have consequences not just for us, but for others. The sailors are frightened to death, but Jonah is totally oblivious to what is happening. He is sleeping through it all. It is only when the captain, who is probably going to the hold to bring cargo up to throw off the ship, sees Jonah asleep. He wakes Jonah up so that Jonah can begin to pray to his God. Then the crew casts lots to see who is responsible for the storm. When Jonah is pointed out, he admits he is the problem and the crew begins to question him. He admits he is a follower of the God that rules both earth and sea and tells the crew to toss him overboard.
Of all the people on board that ship, only Jonah knew the living God, the one who could quiet the storm. But at this point, Jonah was not on speaking terms with Him. Unlike the rest of the crew, Jonah doesn’t pray.
Jonah’s actions ripple into consequences for those around him. The same thing still happens today. When we don’t follow God as we should, we can bring consequences on those around us. We may be just as oblivious to this as Jonah was when he was sleeping below deck. We don’t realize our actions are causing others pain. But when we have God in our lives and serve Him faithfully, instead of our actions causing problems, our actions can be blessings.
To hear more about Jonah: https://podpoint.com/light-of-christ-church-podcast/series/journey-with-jonah-1/jonah-runs-away