Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Jonah 1:12 -- On Rebellion and Sacrifice

"And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you."
Jonah 1:12

In the story of Jonah we often focus on the whole swallowed-by-giant-fish thing, but this is one of the other interesting parts.  Jonah was trying to run away from doing as God had asked (which doesn't really work), and in this part of the story, he buys passage on a ship, and because of him, the ship is in a lot of trouble.  He has told his story to the sailors; they ask him to pray for them, and eventually Jonah tells them that they should throw him into the sea.  They don't at first.  They keep trying to make it to land without doing that, but eventually they do, after praying that God will forgive them for doing as Jonah directed... and then of course we get into the big fish part.

What impressed me on this read-through of the story is that even though Jonah is actively rebelling and running away from God as far as he can get, he still cares enough about the people on the ship to be willing to sacrifice his life for them.  Neither Jonah nor the people on the ship know that Jonah's life will be spared.  They think that this choice means death.  Jonah is running away from what God asked him to do, yes, but he hasn't lost his compassion for others, and he doesn't want others to suffer for his poor choices.

I think that we get ourselves into some bad situations sometimes, and sometimes we're in circumstances where we're going to take others down with us if we continue our rebellious ways. Like Jonah, let's choose compassion over comfort--sacrifice over selfishness.  Let's turn around and walk away from causing any harm to others through our poor choices.  Hopefully we won't have to get swallowed by a great fish in order to learn other important lessons about our relationship with God... but even if we do, let's make sure that we're the only ones in the water.  Let's never be willing to sacrifice others for our pride.  And, you know, if we have the presence of mind to protect others, perhaps we'll one day grow wise enough to protect ourselves as well, and make some better choices. :)

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