Devotion: Jonah 1:10-16I think I have spent a lot of my life taking responsibility for things that were not my responsibility and dodging responsibility for things that were my responsibility. I have spoken often of late of the sin of Adam. Adam, created in essence to be king of creation, the vice-regent of God to reign at His right hand over all that He had made, falls into sin. King Adam's basic sin is to follow his wife, Eve, into sin by taking hold of ultimacy. King Adam the Fallen sought to usurp God's role in defining the good. The knowledge of good and evil is unnecessary for human flourishing. After all, Adam knew the goodness of God and could be in His holy presence without fear. What more could Adam want? Indeed, even wanting more than what God had provided and choosing a way other than the call of God on Adam's life was sin itself. The so-called forbidden fruit did not have magical, mystical or spiritual powers inherit to it. The sin is not eating the fruit, it is desiring to eat the fruit, and, therefore, desiring to take God's place as the ultimate and final authority on all things.
When we go overboard in taking too much responsibility or shirking our responsibility we are simply following King Adam in usurping God's authority and denying His call. We must resist both sides of the responsibility temptation, but the way forward is not merely a compromise position between the two, but rather to be properly oriented to God in the surrender of faith. This is the way of King Jesus the Redeemer and the way Jonah discovered on board a ship caught in a storm:
"Then the men were exceedingly afraid and said to him, “What is this that you have done!” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them. Then they said to him, “What shall we do to you, that the sea may quiet down for us?” For the sea grew more and more tempestuous. He said to them, “Pick me up and hurl me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you, for I know it is because of me that this great tempest has come upon you.” Nevertheless, the men rowed hard to get back to dry land, but they could not, for the sea grew more and more tempestuous against them. Therefore they called out to the LORD, “O LORD, let us not perish for this man’s life, and lay not on us innocent blood, for you, O LORD, have done as it pleased you.” So they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows." -Jonah 1:10-16 ESVJonah knows God's call on his life. He was a prophet, one who heard and reported the Word of the Lord. He was called to go to Nineveh, the capital city of the Assyrian Empire and denounce the city for its evil. Yet Jonah went the opposite direction, fleeing from God and choosing to shirk his responsibility to the call of God. Shirking our responsibility to the call of God is something that resonates with all of us, at least some of the time. Jonah decides to choose his own path and this is his sin, and, frankly, his echo of the sin of King Adam the Fallen.
The storm that rose against the ship must have been monstrous to terrify the sailors. It was so bizarre and strange that they decided immediately it must be of supernatural origin. Jonah is finally singled out as the one who had displeased his God and therefore the root cause of the storm. The question that faced those aboard the ship at that point was, "What now?"
Fear is the initial action, followed by disbelief. The sailors discover that Jonah had shirked his responsibility to God's call and they are flabbergasted. The fear quickly gives way to the practicality of disbelief, that is, if we try hard enough we can fix this. Something must be done to end the storm, something that must involve Jonah. It would have been easy for Jonah to steer the sailors in a way that denied taking responsibility. Jonah could have lied, could have invented a strategy out of thin air. He could have prescribed sacrifices, prayers or even conversions. What he did was shocking--telling the crew to throw him overboard. His suggestion is so shocking that the crew tries desperately to escape the storm one more time, only to find that the storm worsened as they denied the call of God.
This is the most difficult part of the entire first chapter. Jonah's solution, (toss him overboard), seems to be almost suicidal. The sailors recognize that throwing Jonah overboard would all but certainly lead to his death. So they pray to God and ask to be excused from what seems an immoral act to them. The sailors invoke the name of God (YHWH, here represented in the English as "LORD") in their prayer and surrender to His will as spoken by the prophet Jonah. Jonah is thrown into the sea and all is calm. This leads the sailors to fear the Lord, offer sacrifices to him and make vows--in other words, they come to worship the Lord as their God.
Jonah, in surrendering to the will of God and taking proper responsibility leads others to surrender to God in faith. When we lay down the sin of Adam and take up the way of King Jesus we do much the same. Evangelism is rarely accomplished by marketing and gimmicks. It is accomplished by the followers of Jesus surrendering to his will and his way. We must hear the call of God and follow even if it appears to lead us unto death. This is our responsibility in faith and it is in taking this responsibility that we proclaim the truth of our God.
News for You:
- Maundy Thursday, March 29th, at 7pm will be a service of scripture, prayer, and the Lord’s Supper.
- Community Good Friday Service will be on March 30th at 7pm at CPC!
- Sonrise Service will be at the Omak Memorial Cemetery on April 1st at 6:30am.