As many times as I've read the story of Jonah and the fish, yesterday something jumped out at me that I've never thought about before. Don't you love it when God does that? He illuminates our thoughts and gives us fresh new insight into His word.
When the storm began, the sailors prayed to their gods for safety. As the storm worsened, they went down and woke up Jonah. They asked who he was and why such a terrible storm was raging down upon them. I love Jonah's reply! He said, chapter 1 and verse 9 "I am a Hebrew and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven who made the sea and the land." Jonah told them how he was running from what God told him to do and that they'd have to toss him overboard to get relief from the storm. Finally, they gave in and tossed him overboard.
Here's the part that I've never caught before. In verse 14, the sailors began to call out to the Lord, Jonah's God! As the storm's mighty wind and waves subsided, the sailors were awestruck by God's power. They offered sacrifices to God and began to serve Him!
Did you get that? Through the storm, the sailors began to serve God. Isn't that pretty much the way it is today? It seems that when people are going through tough times, they automatically look up. It's amazing how storms cause this response, but it just goes to prove that God uses even our poorest life decisions for His glory. Not only did the sailors repent and begin to worship the true and living God, but once Jonah turned and went to Ninevah, the people there did the same.
Oftentimes God will allow us to make wrong choices so that His perfect will can be accomplished. Jonah's purpose was twofold. He was to get on that boat headed in the wrong direction so that a few men could be turned in the right direction. And because Jonah was tossed into the unpleasant belly of a fish, he wisely decided to do things God's way and head toward Ninevah. Once again, people came to know God through his actions.
"But I will offer sacrifices to you with songs of praise and I will fulfill all my vows. For my salvation comes from the LORD alone." Jonah 2:9