Debra Isenbletter, PastorSpringfield, Missouri
V12: “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.”
I have divided the verse in the following way. Jonah’s Response: “And he said unto them.” Jonah’s Request: “Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea;”. Jonah’s Reassurance: “so shall the sea be calm unto you.” Jonah’s Repentance: “for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you.”
Jonah’s Response: “And he said unto them.” Their question was “What shall we do unto thee.” Since their question focused on him, on his being the problem and not just “What shall we do,” Jonah tells them what to do with him. It is interesting that we do not read that Jonah said, “Let me pray to God about this” or even in his answer say, “This is what God told me to do.” Jonah does tell them what to do but it seems to be what he has decided to do and yet even though this seems to be all Jonah’s decision, the Lord know his thoughts, his intensions and will use what he says to bring about a lesson for both Jonah and the sailors. The Lord is never caught by surprise and I believe He knew all along that this is what Jonah would say. Jonah is willing to sacrifice himself but he is still not willing to completely surrender himself to God’s Will.
Jonah’s Request: “Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea.” In the words “take me up” and “cast me forth” I can see a picture of both Israel and Jesus. The phrase “take me up” means both “to lift up” or “to be carried.” Israel was “carried” away into the nations as part of God’s discipline and chastisement. Jesus was “lifted up” on the Cross as part of God’s judgment. Looking at Jonah and Jesus there is a huge difference in attitude. Jonah is forced by circumstances to submit to man because he did not submit to God but Jesus submitted willingly to God and then to man. His was a voluntary surrendering His will, it was the desire of His heart. The phrase “cast me forth” means “to be hurled, thrown down” or “to carry away” or “cast out.” Israel was “carried away” and “cast out” of their land when they were dispersed. Jesus said they will be “cast out and trodden under foot by men” (Mat.5:13); that they “shall be led [carried] away captive to all nations” (Luk.21;24). This also shows the rejection and death of Jesus. The Jews of Nazareth “thrust [cast] him out” and they intended to “cast” him over a hill. (Luk.4:29). The Jews “carried him away and delivered him to Pilate” (Mark 15:1) and as a result Jesus died “without the camp” (Heb.13:13).
Where was Jonah to be cast? He was to be cast “into the sea”, into the turbulent, stormy waters. The “sea” pictures judgment. In the case of Israel, the “sea” pictures the judgment of being cast into the Gentiles nations. Gentile rulers are called the “princes of the sea” (Ezek.26:16). The Gentile kingdoms in Daniel 7 which picture the Times of the Gentiles rise out of “the great sea” (Dan.7:2) and the Antichrist rises “out of the sea” (Rev.13:1) The “sea” also pictures death. David wrote of these waters as deep waters (Psa.69:1-2; 14-15). In fear he describes the overwhelming despair and in faith he describes the overcoming hope. David was looking forward to Jesus, who would let the waters flow over Him, He would be overwhelmed but He would also overcome.
Jonah’s Reassurance: “so shall the sea be calm unto you.” What assurance this was! The stormy, violent sea would suddenly become calm and quiet. The sea that God created, is the sea that God controls. This was both a promise and a prophecy. There was a lot of turmoil on that ship and around that ship. There was an outward turmoil seen in the waves beating at the ship and there was an inward turmoil seen in the fear beating in their hearts. If they believe Jonah, all that turmoil will cease, the storm will stop, the fear will stop. Jonah needed this “calm” in his own soul just as much as the sailors did. He would keep God’s judgment from them and he would accept God’s judgment upon himself. Jonah may still be struggling against God’s Will but he has begun his surrender with these words. On some level Jonah understood the need for a sacrifice, that a price must be paid. This is what Jesus did and continues to do in our lives. He takes the turmoil and stills the storm in our hearts and our lives.
Jonah’s repentance: “for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you.” On some level, Jonah also understood the need for repentance. He said “I know,” “I understand,” “I acknowledge,” “I recognize” that it is “for my sake.” He understands the reason for judgment, it is because of my attitude—disobedience to God. It is because of my actions—Running from God. Jonah takes responsibility for his attitude and his actions. He takes responsibility for the judgment which is “this great tempest.” Jonah understands that there are consequences for his actions, that what he did affected others and that they suffered because of him. This is the start of Jonah’s lesson. On one hand we see his determination to die by telling them to just throw him overboard and on the other hand we see that he understands there is a need to accept the punishment for his actions, even if it means sacrificing himself.
Jonah’s attitude is a picture of Israel sorrow and submission. Leviticus admonishes God’s people to do three things. They were to confess their iniquity, they were to humble their hearts, they were to accept their punishment. (Lev.26:40-42). God made a promise to them. That promise begins with confession. That confession brings a humbled heart. That humbled heart brings an acceptance of God’s chastisement. The day will come when they will see why they are chastened and corrected, confess and humble themselves. As they accept their punishment they will be transformed.
Jonah’s attitude is a picture of Jesus’ sorrow and submission and sacrifice of Himself. Everything that Jonah did unwillingly, Jesus did willingly. Jonah may have dragged his feet but Jesus never did. Jesus fully understood and embraced the need for His submission and sacrifice. He saw the terrible consequences of sin, of Adam’s sin and though there was no guilt in Him, he took all our guilt upon Himself and was cast into the sea of death so that we might live. Praise the Lord!
The next four verses show four attitudes they had towards God’s Will after Jonah told them to cast him forth into the sea. Struggle (v13). Supplication (v14). Submission (v15) and Sacrifice (v16).
To be continued