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Jonah is found out

Meanwhile, the sailors said to each other, “Come on, let’s cast lots so that we might learn who is to blame for this evil that’s happening to us.” They cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah.
-Jonah 1:7 (CEB)

Jonah was taken upside, to the prayer meeting. We don't know how much or if Jonah prayed, but we can be sure that he did not take the opportunity to tell the men that he had some issues with God, in that he was disobeying God. He did not confess his sins before the men aloud. I imagine that after some time, after they had all been calling out to the gods in prayer; that the storm had not let up. It was still very dangerous. At this point, they decided to take action before it was too late. they would cast lots to find out who's fault this was.

The casting of lots was not seen as magical or mechanical in it's ability to point, but it was believed that the divine would and could enter into the lots and make them point at the one chosen person. Proverbs 16:33 states that, "The dice (lots) are cast into the lap; all decisions are from the LORD." God can enter into casting lots and that is what happens here.

Casting lots is never a substitute for discerning God's will through knowing the revealed will of God already revealed in scripture or through common sense. Casting lots is only meant to be a means of last resort and should only be done by divine inspiration. Imagine a group of seven people, where the group agrees that one must be left to do a certain task and no one volunteers, no one "feels led" of God, and all other things are equal. In other words, no one is the obvious choice. They pray about it and no divine leading comes. Time is passing and a choice must be made, so they cast lots to make a decision. It's like drawing straws with one short one in the bunch.

The lot falls on Jonah. Spotlight time. Stand up and speak. What do you say? It's like suddenly having those red and blue flashing lights come on behind you that say, "pull over". Public humiliation and shame at being found out.

No one was preparing gallows for the one who's fault the storm was. They just wanted to know and then wanted that person to deal with whatever the cause was. These men were pious to some extent, evidenced by their ardent prayers.

So, Jonah is found out. He finds that he could not escape God incognito and start a new life. He might have said he's through with God, but God was not through with him. God had not given up on this man. Jonah probably did not have those insights at that time. As a child does not understand discipline in the midst of it, the loving parent is doing it with the maturing of the child in mind.

The storm was used by God to arrest Jonah. The storm was like God's military police who were sent to capture a man who was absent without leave. The sailors theorized this and were correct. God is good and wise and loving. God is doing this for Jonah's best. God is actually kind in the storm. There could have been a lighting bolt, splitting the boat in two or setting it on fire; but God only sent wind and waves that rocked the boat.

Jonah was found out. He hid and has been found. It's a good thing to be found out in your sin, because then you can openly confess it and get clean through God's forgiveness. You can ask forgiveness of the people you've hurt as well. You get to be redeemed, you get to be set free. You may have nothing, but you no longer have your sin and guilt and now you can embrace God. That's what Jonah was about to be given the opportunity to step into. Better to have failed and be stripped, but to be reconciled to God than to have success and be clothed in comfort with many friends and to be estranged from God.

Better to lose all and gain relationship with God than to attain all, but lose relationship with God. That is what God is after with you and me. I am Jonah and so are you. (Hat tip to Father Joseph of Redwood Valley, California; for that phrase and the graphic.)


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