“But the LORD sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken.” Jonah 1:4.
In this particular passage we read that the Lord sent a hurricane-type storm, possibly a Category 5, to the ship that the prophet Jonah was in. The question is why did the Lord send this storm to Jonah? Well, if you remember, Jonah was in rebellion against God, just as our world is today. Jonah was going in the wrong direction from where God commanded him to go, just as our world is also doing. And Jonah believed that he could obtain a sense of peace and security by running away from God when he boarded the ship and embarked on his journey. So it is today, men today fancy themselves believing they are secure in a godless, immoral society – free from any accountability to God.
What happened next to Jonah? The Lord sent out a great storm with lightning, powerful winds and blinding rain that put the ship and its passengers at great risk. The ship was tossed back and forth by the roaring waves to the point that the ship was about to “break.”
So what did the passengers do? Look at the similarities between this Biblical story and what the world is doing today in the midst of our natural disasters.
“Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god…So the shipmaster came to him (Jonah) and said unto him, What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not.” Jonah 1:5, 6.
What did the passengers do? They began to pray earnestly and passionately to their gods to stop the storm. But NONE of their prayers were being answered. Today we have had literally millions of people praying for Las Vegas, Orlando, San Bernardino, Houston, Puerto Rico, Florida, Paris, London, Berlin and the list goes on and on. It seems as though our prayers today are not being answered. We pray for peace and prosperity and safety and healing – but what about praying for repentance, forgiveness and for a turning away from sin and rebellion?
“And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah.” Jonah 1:7.
The passengers on the ship cast lots, and God controlled the lots, and the lots fell on who? On Jonah, the guilty one. God placed his finger on the one responsible for the great storm that put everyone’s life at risk. Not only did God reveal the source and cause of the natural disaster, but Jonah himself confessed and declared that his sin was the cause of the storm when he said:
“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.” Jonah 1:12.
It is true that sin causes natural disasters. God sent a judgment against Jonah for his disobedience in the form of a mighty tempest. Sin brings storms and tempests into our lives. Sin can bring raging winds of conflict into our families and churches. Sin can even bring calamities and disasters to our nation.
Look at what is taking place today – historic earthquakes, historic flooding, historic storms, historic mass shootings, historic non-stop acts of terrorism and violence and riots that are increasing daily and weekly. It is no coincidence that these events are taking place in conjunction with the moral decay and lawlessness that is also increasing in our world.
And just as the passengers who were traveling with Jonah were unable and incapable of preserving their peace and security, so today, mankind is unable to slow the pace or the intensity of the natural and man-mad disasters we are seeing. Men would be wise to wake up from their sins. Remember, Jonah was asleep in his sin and God has many ways of bringing to light the hidden sins that we think no one can see. There must be repentance, which means we must stop doing those things which are wrong and start doing that which is right.
“Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Luke 13:5.
Our God is sovereign and He rules and reigns over His creation. He brings judgment to nations with the hope that they will see the error of their wicked ways and repent. And whenever our sins increase and becomes more grievous with no sign of repentance, then God’s judgments get progressively worse.
“The word of the LORD came again to me, saying, Son of man, when the land sinneth against me by trespassing grievously, then will I stretch out mine hand upon it, and will break the staff of the bread thereof, and will send famine upon it, and will cut off man and beast from it.” Ezekiel 14:12, 13.
This is describing not just America but the rest of the world very accurately. We have forsaken the law of God and made a mockery of His grace and mercy. Whatever evil is in the land or upon us, there is a reason for it. We must pray and recognize that in many instances sin is the cause to our problems. Very often God responds to continual, unrepentant sin with disaster. The good news is that healing, forgiveness and peace is promised when we turn to Him in humility and repentance.
“If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:13, 14.