The Death Of Jonah

"Then they said to him, 'What shall we do to you that the sea may be calm for us?'" (Jonah 1:11)

When a life is saved, it is God who delivers, whether those who are saved are many, or few. On some occasions it is more obvious than at other times. Such as recorded in the Book of Jonah, for example, it was obvious that only God could save everyone onboard. Only the Creator could have stopped the storm. Yet, the crew looked to Jonah, certain that he could deliver them.

The situation was hopeless. The sea raged. The ship was tossed like a cork, as huge waves whipped up by strong winds threatened to break the ship apart and to cast everyone into the violent seas, and certain death. The life of everyone onboard was in peril, all would perish. The ship's crew turned to Jonah, pleading, 'What shall we do to you that the sea may be calm for us?'

Undoubtedly, the plight of the ship's crew was desperate but their belief that Jonah could make the sea calm is remarkable. Could Jonah simply wave his hand or utter something that would stop the life-threatening storm and calm the raging sea?

Moreover, the crew were convinced that Jonah could deliver them, as indicated in their plea: "what shall we do to you . . . " Indeed, what payment or action was required? As if Jonah were a powerful god, influential in the realms of the unseen, the crew were ready to demonstrate their allegiance to secure their life and safety?

Strange as that may seem, perhaps stranger still is Jonah's reply.

"Pick me up and throw me into the sea . . . " (Jonah 1:12) Jonah could save them, or could he?

No payment was required. Neither was he to be worshipped. Jonah was a man.

What Jonah did tell the crew, however, was quite puzzling. "Pick me up and throw me into the sea . . . ". Could Jonah actually save them?

Not that the crew had a problem with throwing things into the sea. In fact, they had earlier discarded their gods into the sea "to lighten the load" (v:5). While the sea was growing in rage, threatening to cast them all into the sea, they had been throwing the ship's cargo and their gods overboard, and now, Jonah was telling them to throw him into the sea. An easy enough task, it would seem in light of what they had been doing, simply pick Jonah up and toss him overboard.

But would it work? Would the raging sea be calmed? Would their lives be saved, if they threw Jonah into the sea? Can the death of one man, save the rest? Could the death of this man save them?

Jonah seemed to think so. "Pick me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will be calm for you." (Jonah 1:12)

The crew thought differently, and acting contrary to Jonah's instruction, " . . . the men rowed hard to return to land, but they could not, for the sea continued to grow more tempestuous against them." (Jonah 1:13)

Refusing to believe that anyone should die, the crew rowed, but it was in vain. Eventually, exhausted they were faced with one option only, they would have to throw Jonah overboard to certain death.

Jonah, on the other hand, had been resolute . . . there was only one way . . . "Pick me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will be calm for you." (Jonah 1:12)

One could imagine the grim silence, as each crew member saw the desperation in the eyes of the other and what each was feeling wrenching at their heart, the search for hope, and finally the disbelief and shock of what they were about to do.

"Therefore they cried out to the LORD and said, 'We pray, O LORD, please do not let us perish for this man's life, and do not charge us with innocent blood; for You, O LORD, have done as it pleased You." (Jonah 1:14)

Even at the very last, the crew was reluctant to send Jonah to certain death. " . . . please do not let us perish for this man's life . . . " On the contrary, Jonah's instruction was that his death would bring them life. He would perish and they would be saved. Yet even now, the crew were unable to grasp how the death of this man could save them. " . . . and do not charge us with innocent blood . . . " (Jonah 1:14) From their perspective, Jonah was innocent. He was not worthy of death.

The crew conceded that such a thing was beyond their comprehension, and thereby were acting in faith. " . . . for You O LORD, have done as it pleased You."

Meanwhile, Jonah waited for them to fulfil his instructions.

"So they picked up Jonah and threw him into the raging sea and the sea ceased from its raging." (Jonah 1:15)

Jonah was right. The sea calmed, and they were saved. Jonah had saved them.

But what could they do for Jonah, they were saved, but their Saviour was gone, drowned in the depths?

After witnessing the death of Jonah, the crew's faith was stimulated and revived, therefore, out of a living faith they worshipped the God of Israel, the God of Jonah.

"Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice to the LORD and took vows." (Jonah 1:16)

The prophet Jonah was a type of the Messiah. The Messiah is able to redeem the sinner from the kingdom of darkness, and return the sinner back to the path of righteousness -- a life that is pleasing to God, and one that brings honour to the Heavenly Father.

Jonah was a type of the Messiah because God had appointed him to save everyone onboard. Likewise, the Messiah is the Ultimate Saviour for all mankind. He is God's appointed Servant. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)

Embattled by the raging seas of sin and its threatening consequences of judgement, the sinner can seek the Messiah. The question may be asked of the Messiah, in the same way that the ship's crew looked to Jonah: "What shall we do to you that the sea may be calm for us?" (Jonah 1:11) What must be done to the Messiah so that the sons of light may be redeemed from the kingdom of darkness? The Messiah provides atonement. His death brings life.

All knew that throwing Jonah overboard meant certain death for him, "Pick me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will be calm for you." (Jonah 1:12) Likewise, the Messiah must die in order to bring life to those enslaved by sin, and to all who trust in Him. His death is the sacrifice for which the penalty of our sin is atoned. We who are unclean because of our sin, are made clean through Him because of His righteousness.

Jonah was not worthy of death, and the crew declared him innocent, which points to the Messiah's sinless sacrifice. The Messiah is without sin, and is the Righteous One, whom God has appointed to die "for the transgression of My people . . . ".

"He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgement, and who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of My people He was stricken. And they made His grave with the wicked -- but with the rich at His death, because He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth." (Isaiah 53:7-9)

Jonah was raised miraculously from his grave. "Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights." (Jonah 1:17)

Not surprisingly, the Messiah also was raised from the dead. Moreover, He pointed to Jonah's death and resurrection as foreshadowing His greater sacrifice and resurrection from the dead. "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." (Matthew 12:40)

And prior to these great events happening, the Messiah also revealed to His disciples that He would die and be resurrected. "The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him, and the third day He will be raised up." (Matthew 17:22-23)

When Jonah's body touched the water, the seas were calmed and the life of everyone onboard was saved -- they lived. In the same way, the Messiah provides salvation from eternal death and access to the life in the World to Come, for everyone who believes in Him. "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life." (John 6:47)

Jonah was the only Deliverer for all on the ship. God had sent him, therefore the crew looked to Jonah. Likewise, God has sent His Son, Yeshua. Only through Yeshua the Messiah can we return to our Heavenly Father. "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." (John 14:6)

Just as God delivered everyone aboard the ship through His appointed servant, Jonah, so too, God has appointed Yeshua the Messiah, His Son, the Saviour for all mankind. There is no one else through whom we receive the forgiveness of sin, but Yeshua, the promised Son of David. Only the shed blood of the Righteous One, Yeshua, can make the sinner righteous before God.

"Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Saviour, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins." (Acts 5:31)

May there be many today who believe in Yeshua the Messiah.