"What shall we do … that the sea may be calm unto us? … 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. Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not" (Jonah 1:11-13).
Jonah's storm was raging as a result of his going his own way, rebelling against the will of God. The storm came to bring him to his senses.
Fighting the Storm
There are several ways we might react to such a storm. First, the sailors "cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it" (Jonah 1:5). They thought that by getting rid of the cargo, they could ride out the storm. Many are still trying this today. They try to get rid of certain things in their lives. Some stop hanging out after work at the bars. Some try to stop swearing. Others seek to cease lying. Others give up immorality. We give up this and give up that, but still we have no peace.
Another thing the sailors tried to do was row harder to get to land. Here was a group of men who tried in their own strength to find a solution, "but they could not" (Jonah 1:13). The lesson here is that by our efforts alone we can never do or be what God wants us to do or be. We can do our very best, but our best is not good enough. In fact, the Bible says our best is like "filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6). So many of us have found this to be true. We thought we could overcome that temptation and we did our very best, "but we could not."
We must come to the end of ourselves and learn not to trust in our own strength but in the Lord. There was one way the sailors could be saved. Note the way Jonah reacted. "Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you." He offered to be a sacrifice. We see the truth vividly here. Human efforts cannot calm the storm of God's judgment on sin. There must be a sacrifice.
Calming the Storm
"So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging. Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly" (Jonah 1:15,16).
Peace came when Jonah began obeying the will of God. At this point Jonah became a picture, a foreshadow, of our Lord Jesus Christ, who one day would go to Calvary's cross in order to offer Himself as a sacrifice, go into the grave, and rise again that we might be saved. "For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth" (Matthew 12:40).
The storm beat on Jonah's ship because of sin, and sin must be punished by death: "The wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). What a picture we see in Jonah of Jesus who took the sinners' place. The Bible says, God "made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus "bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed" (1 Peter 2:24).
Our Lord was cast into the sea of God's judgment to die and rise again for our redemption. This great ship of humanity was battered by the waves of judgment and was headed for destruction. There was only one way that such a storm could be stilled. Our Lord Jesus was nailed to the cross. "He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5).
Have you seen this Saviour as your personal substitute? There is only one way we can be saved, and that is to surrender to God and accept the gift of His Son, who took our place on Calvary's mountain and died our death so we might live His life.
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).
—Condensed from Jonah: Meeting the God of the Second Chance by O.S. Hawkins