When reading the Book of Jonah we quickly learn that Jonah the servant of the Lord failed to obey God. God called on him to go and preach to the people of Nineveh and Jonah refused to do so. When fleeing from the Lord’s commands, Jonah boarded a ship headed to Tarshish. But in all of Jonah’s efforts, he could not hide from the eyes of the Lord. While Jonah was on the ship, the Lord sent out a great wind into the sea. During the storm, the ship was near sinking and the mariners were sore afraid. In the end, the mariners would cast Jonah, the disobedient servant of God, overboard and experience peace. But before they did, according to our study verse, they tried to row hard to bring the ship to land but they could not. It is this verse that has caught the mind and thoughts of the writer this morning.
Throughout scripture we read about children of God who suffered troubles because of sin. Sampson, Lot, Solomon and etc are examples of this fact. These individuals acted contrary to God’s commands and found themselves experiencing the consequences of the actions. I’m sure these children of God (because it’s man’s nature) tried, in various ways, to correct the course by covering, hiding, or fixing the wrongs themselves. But in the end, the best way would be to repent and separate themselves from the sin/sins they had embraced. Just as the mariners experienced peace by casting over the wrongdoer, they themselves could have experienced much more peace by repenting and casting away the sin.
The lesson may also be applied to the environments we often create for ourselves and for our families. The surroundings this world supplies is usually not a surrounding of peace and happiness. I heard an Elder once say/ask, “The world cannot fill a bag of potato chips, how is it supposed to fill your life with happiness.” Yet, over and over we find ourselves, as the mariners in Jonah, rowing hard trying to find true happiness and peace in a world that is not able to provide it. The best option? Rid ourselves of the ways of the world, seek God’s way and experience a peace in/with Him. Isaiah 26:3, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.”
And finally, the lesson of our study verse may be applied to Church discipline. In 1 Corinthians chapter 5, we read where the Apostle Paul confronts the Church because of their lack of Church discipline. The Church had a man in its membership who was living in gross sin. Yet the Church had become puffed up and would not deal with the matter. In verse 5, Paul tells them to exercise in their God given responsibilities so the “spirit may be saved.” The “spirit” under consideration is the Spirit of Christ in the Church. The Church at Corinth was on a fast pace journey to be like the Church of the Laodiceans in Revelation 3:14-22. The Laodiceans, with their pride and arrogance, had offended the Lord so that He removed Himself and was standing outside the Church knocking on the door calling on them to repent. What was the Church at Corinth to do? Exclude, or throw the man under consideration overboard, in hopes of pleasing the Lord and experiencing peace in the Church. I would like to add that all Church discipline should be done in love (of the Lord, His Word and the individuals) in hopes that repentance will be found that restoration would be the labor of the future. But when the sin is found in the body, to please the Lord, just as the mariners cast the guilty overboard the Church should exclude the one sinning a sin that brings reproach to the Church body so the congregation may experience peace and fellowship with the true King of Israel.
Brothers and Sisters in Christ, are you struggling to find peace in your life. Do you feel like the mariners of our study verse, rowing hard but not being able to come to land and find peace? God’s way is the best way. Repentance and obedience are two words associated with fellowship with God. And according to Jesus in Matthew 11:29, if we will come to Him we will “find rest unto your souls.” Amen!