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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Man Overboard!

While Jonah slept in the hull of ship bound for Tarshish, a horrific storm threatened to capsize the ship. The desperate sailors were praying to their false gods and tossing cargo overboard. A rebuke from the ship’s captain jolted Jonah. Why wasn’t he praying instead of sleeping?

Jonah recognized God’s hand in the storm and believed He was chastising him for trying to run from the responsibility of preaching against Nineveh’s wickedness. After the casting of lots singled out Jonah as the troublemaker who had stirred up the storm, Jonah confessed his disobedience and advised that the sailors to throw him overboard (Jonah 1:7–12). To their credit, the sailors were reluctant to heed Jonah’s advice. They vainly tried to row to shore, but eventually realized they would have to toss Jonah overboard (vv. 13–15). Before doing so, however, they asked God not to hold them accountable for Jonah’s impending death.

When Jonah splashed down, the storm settled down. The sailors were so impressed with the power of Jonah’s God to start and end the violent storm that they offered a sacrifice to Him and made vows (v. 16).

Think of the irony in this episode. The pagan sailors tried to do the right thing. Jonah, a prophet in Israel, had tried to do the wrong thing. As a prophet, he was supposed to represent the true God to pagans. But what a wretched representative he was. His personal guilt and shame were evident.

It is extremely sad when a believer’s “dirty laundry” is exposed and pagans seem to have more integrity than the offending believer. Spectacles of shame include acts of immorality, crooked business deals, and deception, and many other sins that mar our testimony.

Shouldn’t we expunge from our lives daily anything that fails to square with our profession of faith? A hot temper, bad language, lack of courtesy, rancor, disrespect, envy, and pride are a few of the many sins that contradict our testimony and render us ineffective representatives of the true God.

May our walk and our talk say positive things about God this week!

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