A recent survey found that more people are sleeping less than six hours a night, and sleep difficulties visit 75% of us at least a few nights per week. Every night, nearly every person undergoes a remarkable change: we leave waking consciousness and for hours traverse a landscape of dreams and deep sleep. When we wake, we typically remember little or nothing about the hours that have just passed. Except in rare instances, we never contemplate and appreciate that we are sleeping while we are asleep. Thus, although everyone sleeps, most people would be hard-pressed to precisely define sleep. All organisms exhibit daily patterns of rest and activity that resemble the daily sleep and wakefulness patterns seen in humans. From observing changes in behavior and responsiveness, scientists have noted the following characteristics that accompany and in many ways define sleep:
- Sleep is a period of reduced activity.
- Sleep is associated with a typical posture, such as lying down with eyes closed
- Sleep results in a decreased responsiveness to external stimuli.
- Sleep is a state that is relatively easy to reverse (this distinguishes sleep from other states of reduced consciousness, such as hibernation and coma).
The Storm’s Might
Jonah was running from the presence of God, but God was not running away from Jonah. Jonah 1:4 says that the Lord “hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest upon the sea.” This was a mighty storm. But it was not an accidental storm. It was not a coincidental storm. It was a storm that was hurled against Jonah. Jonah was running from God, but God was chasing after Jonah!
The phrase used there is the same phrase for when Saul hurled his spear at David. The Lord literally hurled this great storm at Jonah.
God loves you enough to throw a storm at you to redirect your life back to His purpose and plan for you! And the winds came against the ship. And the waves lapped over the side of the boat. And the ship threatened to break up. The Hebrew says that the boards groaned and where about to break. This was no ordinary storm. The sky was as black as the blackest night. White frothy waves leaped over the side of the ship. The howling gale blew out the lanterns. The crashing water creaking every board, causing them to nearly break.
Jonah had received a call to get up, go up, and speak up. But what did he do? He went down.
- He went down from his house
- He went down to Joppa
- He went down to the docks
- He went down to the ship
- He went down into the galley
- He went down into a deep sleep
Isn’t it interesting that our text says in verse 5 that Jonah was “fast asleep?” What a funny oxymoron, like Jumbo Shrimp or Government Intelligence. Jonah was fast asleep. You cannot be asleep and be fast.
Despite the storm’s might, Jonah simply said “Good night!” This was no ordinary storm. This was a powerful storm, but notice please it was a purposeful storm. The purpose of the storm was not to shake Jonah…It was to wake Jonah! Remember, sleep is a condition that is relatively easy to reverse. But Jonah slept. While the ship was sinking, the man of God was sleeping. While the boards were breaking, the man of God was snoring. Jonah slept.
The Sailors’ Fright
Notice please, the storm’s might lead to the sailors’ fright. These sailors were expert seamen. When these men get upset, you know it’s a doozy. Verse 5 says “Then the mariners were afraid…” This is the sailors’ fright. These were not novices. These were not inexperienced mariners. These were veteran sailors, but they were afraid! Notice that the sailors began to pray. Now when pagan men pray, you know there is a major storm afoot. The wind is squalling. The waves are splashing. The sailors are screaming. But Jonah was asleep. The Hebrew says that this was a heavy, deep sleep. Jonah wasn’t snoozing! He was deeply asleep. He’s paid the fare. He doesn’t care.
He laid down in a straw bed, as uncomfortable as uncomfortable can be, but Jonah slept. His little lamp was violently swinging from side to side, but Jonah slept. Water was splashing down from topside, but Jonah slept. Seaweed wrapped around his sleeping body, and The luggage and cargo were lurching and sliding from side to side, but Jonah slept. There was bedlam everywhere, but Jonah was in bed. The pagan soldiers were disturbed, but the prophet of God was not even perturbed. The pagan soldiers were shaken, but he prophet of God did not awaken.
While society is coming apart, it is time for the church to come awake. I pray that the Hand of God will come down from heaven and do whatever He needs to do to shake us, quake us, or break us, so that He might awaken us! Verse 6, “So the captain came down and said to him, ‘What do you mean, you sleeper? Arise, call out to your God! Perhaps the God will give a thought to us, that we may not perish!”
It was then the hairy arm of the captain shook Jonah from his slumber and said, “Jonah, wake up. Jonah wake UP! JONAH, WAKE UP!!! Man, this whole thing is going under, if you have a God you’d better pray to him.”
It is a horrible thing when a lost mariner has to awaken the sleeping man of God. The captain knew they were perishing. The mariners knew they were perishing. But the man of God was silent and asleep. Jonah rubbed the sleep from his eyes. He tries to find his equilibrium, but he cannot. “Maybe your god, oh man of god…Maybe your god can save us!” My friends, our God, the living God, is the only hope of salvation for a world that is rapidly going under. Our God, the living God, is the only One who can save the word from the tempest! But Jonah remained silent. Not a word. Not a testimony. Not a glimmer of hope. Not a message of salvation. NOTHING! The only ones speaking were the LOST!
Verse 7. And they said to one another, “Come, let us cast lots, that we may know on whose account this evil has come upon us.” So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah. (Jonah 1:7 ESV) The calamity was not caused by the sailors. It was caused by the prophet of God. The lot fell on Jonah. God had rigged the game. He rigged the process. Why? Because you cannot run from the will of God. He has rigged the process. He will get your attention. The cry maybe sharp and shrill in your ear but He will get your attention.
In verse 8, the sailors pepper ol’ Jonah with a bunch of questions. Then they said to him, “Tell us on whose account this evil has come upon us. What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?” (Jonah 1:8 ESV) Jonah was the only one on the ship who knew the true God, but no one else knew that Jonah knew God.
Isn’t it a shame? Isn’t it a tragedy when lost people have to ask the Christians if they know God? Isn’t it a shame when Christians are so far out of the will of God that the world doesn’t even know that they are Christians? The storm forced a testimony out of Jonah in verse 9. And he said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” Then the men were exceedingly afraid and said to him, “What is this that you have done!” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them. (Jonah 1:9-10 ESV) Running from God has a price. Running from the will of God will cost you. Running from God will lead you into the heart of the storm.
- If you are unwilling to give a voluntary testimony of God, He will bring a storm in your life that will cause you to share a testimony.
- The problem today in the world today is not with the pagans, the problem is with the people of God who are unwilling to give a testimony of what God has done for them.
- The world is coming apart at the seams, but the people of God are asleep.
- What is the answer? Wake up. Get up. Go up. Speak up!