(This week’s devotions are based on Sunday’s message: Grace for All…Grace Pursues – LISTEN HERE)
Jonah 1:15 Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. 16 At this the men greatly feared the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to him.
You have probably heard, “There are no atheists in a fox hole.” When life is on the line, our instinct is to cry out to God…perhaps not knowing who that God is. Yet, there is an inner sense that there is a god bigger and more powerful around us. We call this the natural knowledge of God. The natural knowledge of God is realized in two areas: nature and our conscience. The Psalmist wrote of nature:
Psalm 119:1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
3 They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
Nature, creation, the world around us gives evidence to the individual that there is someone more powerful, more intelligent, and more creative than they. The sailors on the ship realized the power of the wind and the strength of the waves was beyond their ability to control. They cried out to their gods seeking reprieve from the storm. Nothing happened. Jonah indicated to the men that the God from whom he was running was the one who created the wind and the waves. He was proved right when he was thrown overboard and the “raging sea grew calm.” The response of the crew? They “offered sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to him.” Did the Lord become just another god in their divine sailor toolkit or did the other gods get fired and the Lord filled their heart? Again, we don’t know, but we do know the power of nature led them to the Lord, through Jonah.
In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul was speaking to the Athenians who had gods for all different things of nature. He indicates that one who seeks after the Lord, the Lord will honor. Acts 17:24-28 says:
24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’
The sailors reached out. The sailors encountered the Lord.
In no way will we justify Jonah’s disobedience, but God used it as an opportunity to show his power in the waters of the sea and show his power to affect the hearts of the sailors. How did things end for the sailors? We don’t know. But knowing the heart of the Lord, I am certainly of the opinion that he did not let their encounter with the Lord through Jonah go to spiritual waste!
Apply: How does experiencing the power of God in nature lead you to seek more about the true God in his Word?
Prayer: Lord, thank you for using all means available to you to bring people closer to you. Honor the search nature sends one on so that all individuals intrigued by the power of nature will come to believe and trust the power of your Gospel. AMEN.