Since the lot fell on Jonah, he was forced to admit his game was up – the running and hiding was over, and Jonah was forced to identify himself. Imagine the shock of the sailors to find out that this man, upon whom the lot fell, was a worshipper of Yahweh – the God of heaven who made the land and the sea. Jonah’s rebellion had brought this calamity on these men. The irony is that these same pagan men demonstrated great patience and grace toward Jonah; while Jonah closed his heart to pagan Ninevites, these pagan mariners were quite charitable to Jonah and even ended up crying out to Yahweh, the covenant God of all Creation. What’s more is that the awe that these events produced in these men’s hearts caused them to sacrifice to Yahweh, and if indeed they were actually converted, they could have been the first missionaries to bring the Word of God to Spain (the suggested location of Tarshish). By contrast, how low Jonah had sunk in his folly, thinking he could run from the will of God. He went down to Joppa, down to the lower recesses of ship and finally suggested that the sailors cast him down into the deep. Instead of glorifying the name of the living God before an entire city, Jonah’s flight resulted in his telling a few sailors that he had been running from this God, implying that He was as limited as their own familiar local deities. Jonah’s rebellion had caused him to be foolishly lulled to sleep, left him powerless in the midst of crisis, ashamed of his ministry, and ultimately despairing of his own usefulness. Jonah’s final resignation (or at least what he thought would be his final resignation) to cast him into the sea is evidence that he believed God was done with him; perhaps he despaired the thought that he had fallen away from God completely and was no longer His child. Though the mariners rowed hard to try to avoid it, God’s will was inevitably done and Jonah was hurled into the sea. Jonah knew that this was God’s will and became resigned to what he saw was inevitable – his own death and the possibility of an eternity in hell.
Have the circumstances of life brought you down? Has your sin and rebellion brought you to a place where you feel low and depressed, perhaps even at the point of turning away from the faith or giving up on God? Is your soul downcast? Who can say that it has not been the hand of the Lord that has brought you to this place, this with a greater purpose in mind? Perhaps this pit of despair that you have found yourself in is really an evidence of God’s mercy and grace. For those who belong to Christ, even the downward spiral of sin and despair manifests the good intent of God. We can think of Joseph, cast into the pit, sold into slavery, all brought down to Egypt, all because God meant it for good! God’s intention in all of the downward turns in Joseph’s life was ultimately to bring about the salvation of His people during great famine. The same principle reaches its fullest expression in the decent of Jesus from His arrest in the garden to the cruelty of His execution on the cross, down to His burial in the tomb, the sinking down of Jesus Christ was all with the salvific intent to be raised on the third day, and thereby save and raise all of the elect.