In Jonah 1, the Lord wants to halt Jonah’s escape and so He stirs up such a severe storm that it threatens shipwreck.
The seamen call on their gods for help. Due to the severity of the storm, they feel that someone must have provoked the anger of the gods. They cast lots to decide who will be first to volunteer information about himself that might expose such an offense. For the casting of lots, each individual brings an identifiable stone or wooden marker. The markers are placed in a container that is shaken until one of the markers comes out. The lot falls on Jonah, who now confesses his sins and urges the seamen to throw him into the sea.
This story is remarkable because in it the non-Hebrew seamen act positively, while Jonah is presented in a negative light. Although they worshiped many gods, the seamen show a great respect for the Lord to whom they pray. They are also tenderhearted toward the Lord’s servant Jonah, which is why they go out of their way to try to row back to the land. Finally, they agree with Jonah that he should be thrown overboard. With this done, the storm stops and the seamen sacrifice to the Lord and praise Him.
Jonah’s confession of faith in God as Creator of the sea and land underscores the futility of his attempts to escape from God’s presence. The immediate cessation of the storm after the men threw Jonah into the sea showed them that the Lord, as Creator, had control of the sea. Because of this, the seamen worship the Lord all the more. How long their newfound fear and reverence for the Creator was to last, we are not told. There is no doubt, however, that they did learn something about Him from this experience.
We can barely comprehend many of the wonders of the world around us, much less all that is beyond the reach of our senses and even our imagination. How does the Creator speak to you through that which He has made?