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The Heart of God in the Heart of the Sea

Devotion Eight

April 10, 2024

Stretched Out and Asleep

Daniel Barta

While the sailors, struck by fear, cried out to their gods and frantically worked to lighten the ship by throwing the cargo overboard, Jonah retreated to quiet and isolated parts of the ship.  There he made himself comfortable, “stretched out” and fell “into a deep sleep” (Jon 1:5b).  The prophet’s rest at such a terrible time stands in contrast to the sailors at a few points.

First, Jonah demonstrated little urgency. The lives of him and his fellow man hung in suspense, yet Jonah took a nap.  He perceived little trouble.  This was no time for sleeping, yet Jonah acted as if all was O.K. 

Second, Jonah demonstrated little concern for others.  The pagan sailors sought the good of everyone on board.  They worked with all their religious and physical resources so that no one would perish.  Even once they discovered the blame belonged to Jonah, they attempted to preserve all without throwing Jonah overboard (Jon 1:13). 

Third, Jonah demonstrated little perception. The pagan sailors perceived that the storm originated from a god.  They knew that someone messed up, someone crossed the divine, and they understood that unless the god(s) were appeased all would perish.  Jonah on the other hand slept even though he knew that he himself was in the very act of rebelling against the LORD (Jon 1:1-3).  The one individual on the ship who should have seen clearly, did not.

‌Unlike the pagan sailors, God’s prophet enjoyed a false security, lacked concern for others, and possessed little insight into their precarious position.

God Mercifully Shows His Wrath and Power

Throughout His creation, God has revealed His wrath against all ungodliness (Ro 1:18).  Sometimes He shows His disapproval and repulsion of sin through mighty acts and holy power by hurling a great wind at a boat carrying sinners (Jon 1:4) or by plaguing a nation with 10 disasters (Ex 7-11; Ro 9:14-17). 

Most often, His wrath against sin comes by way of consequences hardwired into the creation order.  For example, if you pervert the sexual order and design you will know heartbreak, dissatisfaction, physical effects, and relational distress.  The difficulties and struggles come attached to the sin. 

Whether God comes against sin with a great wind and storm or with the bitter fruit naturally attached to the works of darkness, within the storm God’s “mercy [is] powerfully at work… There’s mercy deep inside our storms.” [1]

Through the storm God mercifully brought Jonah to a place of repentance and faith.  The storm brought pagan sailors to right knowledge of the One True God and freed them from the slavish rule of false idols, and eventually the storm would lead to the rescuing of Nineveh. 

‌The greatest display of God’s wrath against sin came at calvary, when Jesus, God’s own Son endured the judgment attached to the sin’s of the whole world.  Thankfully, in that storm God was not only acting justly (Rom 3:23-26).  There He also executed His mercy, so that men and women everywhere might cry out to Him for help and be saved (Ep 2:1-10). 

‌Don’t Fall Asleep

‌Like Jonah we live and operate in a world filled with storms.  Demonstrations of God’s wrath and disapproval of sin exist all around us.  All men, women, and children are right now struggling in this life.  Each life is touched by sin - their own sin and the sins of others.  Brokenness touches every aspect of every life because sin is pervasive both in the individual and in the community. 

Unlike Jonah, we must perceive rightly our dependency on God and His mercy.  The false prophets loved to say to themselves and to their listeners, “We are ok!  All is good!  Do not be concerned, God is on our side” (Je 6:14).  They calmed people’s fears with a false message that negated the guilt before God and God’s wrath against them and their sin.  They found a way to sleep in the midst of great trouble not by believing and accepting the truth but by ignoring the God who sent the storm as a merciful warning.

Unlike Jonah, we must also know concern for those affected by the storms attached to sin.  Men may know the bitter fruit of their own sin or they may be left greatly afflicted and burdened as a result of the sins of others.  Christians, rather than retreating to a isolated comfortable life, move with compassion toward those who face terrifying and dreadful circumstances.  We should not be indifferent, unconcerned, and unmoved. Christlikeness demands that we move with urgency into the storm where they are and demonstrate with our hands and feet that God indeed is merciful, compassionate, and kind especially in the midst of their troubles.


[1] Keller, Timothy. The Prodigal Prophet (p. 30). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

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