THE SERVANT GENERAL
IN THE TEMPEST
reading once again brings us to an encounter with destructive
waters, as Jonah and the ship he is on were caught up in a
furious tempest at sea. God "hurled a violent wind upon
the sea, and in the furious tempest that arose the ship was
on the point of breaking up." (Jonah 1:4). This happened
because Jonah was avoiding God's call for him to preach against
wanted Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach in order to bring
that wicked city to repentance. God was showing His mercy.
But in the process, God was punishing innocent people, the
mariners and everyone else on the boat with Jonah. Favor the
bad, but chastise the good? We cannot fully fathom the depth
of God's wisdom. We can only rest on our conviction that He
is just and righteous. God will accomplish His purposes, many
times not according to our human wisdom and ways.
mariners, frightened by the violent storm, cried to their
gods (Jon 1:5). Jonah told them "I worship the Lord,
the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land."
(Jon 1:9). Ultimately, the mariners also cried out to the
true God (Jon 1:14). They acknowledged: "you, Lord, have
done as you saw fit." (Jon 1:14). They were "struck
with great fear of the Lord" (Jon 1:16a). Finally, they
"offered sacrifice and made vows to him" (Jon 1:16b).
Wow! Such conversion of pagans! And founded on truths that
took Job much discussion with his friends to realize: reverential
fear; God acting according to His own sovereignty; acknowledgment
of His power and control over nature; realization that their
lives were entirely in His hands. Such deep conversion could
not have happened if not for the calamity that was upon them!
in particular Jonah 1:16. "Struck with great fear of
the Lord, the men offered sacrifice and made vows to him."
Reverential fear is our proper posture before God. "The
fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge" (Prov
1:7a). Such awe of God in His majesty--seeing His control
of the forces of nature, causing a furious tempest and then
abating its raging--is the foundation of rightly relating
to Him. Awe leads to worship. Awe leads to living out our
covenant with Him.
is worthy to note that basically the same thing happened to
Jesus' disciples, in the incident of the calming of the storm
at sea (see Mark 4:35-41). Storms get our attention, and put
us in the proper posture of helplessness which leads to humility.
Then we experience the awesome power and majesty of God, which
brings us to faith and worship.
is more. The mariners and Jonah were made to suffer, but their
suffering resulted in Jonah finally surrendering to God's
will. Jonah himself spends three days in the belly of a large
fish. There he turned to God in his distress, and acknowledged
Him once again. He preaches in Nineveh, causing the sinful
city's conversion. Suffering is redemptive--for oneself and
for others. And redemptive suffering paves the way for one's
being used in the power of the Spirit to evangelize and bring
about conversion of sinners. Notice how powerful Jonah's preaching
was. Jonah himself was not a seasoned prophet but was quite
reluctant, even fleeing from the Lord's command. Nineveh itself
was very wicked. Jonah had just preached for a single day
but the whole people and the king repented.
majesty of God, redemptive suffering, awe of God, being humbled
by the circumstance around us outside our control, the mercy
of God--all these are the lessons contained in this very short
story of Jonah. We cannot fully know the ways of God--why
He allows Satan to severely afflict Job, why He afflicts the
mariners in order to bring Jonah back to His plan, why He
allows typhoon Ondoy to afflict His beloved people especially
the poor. We can only be in awe of and humbled by His divine
majesty. We can only trust in His justice and righteousness,
and that He is in control and nothing happens just by chance.
God is about His divine purposes, and is committed ultimately
to the good of His people.
us make Jonah's prayer our own. When affliction comes, when
the flood envelops us (Jon 2:4), when the waters swirl about
us, threatening our lives (Jon 2:6a), when we are down deep
in the pit, with the bars of the nether world seemingly closing
behind us forever (Jon 2:7), let us turn even more fervently
to God and be confident in His help. "Out of my distress
I called to the Lord, and he answered me; from the midst of
the nether world I cried for help, and you heard my voice."
(Jon 2:3). When our soul is faint within us, when we are ready
to give up, when we start to blame God, when we are weary
and hopeless and helpless, let us immerse in prayer, confident
that God hears and helps. "When my soul fainted within
me, I remembered the Lord; my prayer reached you in your holy
temple." (Jon 2:8).
let us reexamine our lives. What do we hold important? What
are our priorities? How much do we pursue the idols of money,
power, pleasure? (As many experienced with Ondoy, possessions
and the treasures of a lifetime can be swept away and destroyed
so easily). Do we find our comfort and security in such idols?
"Those who worship vain idols forsake their source of
mercy. But I, with resounding praise, will sacrifice to you;
what I have vowed I will pay: deliverance is from the Lord."
(Jon 2:9-10). When we turn to God, when we worship Him, when
we live out our covenant, then we will receive His divine
mercy. Then He will deliver us from our afflictions.
Job had learned the lessons, God restored him and blessed
him twofold. When Jonah had learned the lessons, God "commanded
the fish to spew Jonah upon the shore." (Jon 2:11). Then
he moved on to become a blessing to Nineveh. When we learn
the lessons of Job and of Jonah, then we will experience the
fullness of the deliverance of God and His divine mercy, and
will be used by Him as effective instruments of evangelization.
will be floods, there will be afflictions, but God is always
there in the midst of the tempest. When we know our place,
when we are faithful to our call and live out our covenant,
even us we do not fully understand the ways of God, then we
will experience the justice and righteousness of our God.
bless you all.
to me life is Christ, and death is gain." (Phil 1:21)
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of Job - Part 5[PDF]