“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. 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?’ 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.’” Jonah 1:7–9
We're up to the point in this series on Jonah where the mariners are troubled by the storm and conclude that one of the gods must be angry. However, there’s a dilemma: they worship so many different gods and they don’t know which god is angry and who it is that's actually in trouble! How did they determine the deity? Simple. They rolled dice in a round of “deity elimination.”
These men appear to have more trust in the fate of rolling dice than Jonah does in the sovereignty of God. In fact, Solomon said “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD” (Prov. 16.33). As Scripture indicates, the lots land on Jonah. The mariners conclude "Jonah is our man. He's the problem!"
Some may say, “Oh, it's just a coincidence that the lots fell on Jonah. It makes for a better story.” Pastor Mark recently said, “Coincidence is the non-Christian’s word for providence.”
The sailors want to know who Jonah is, so they start asking him questions. “Where do you come from? What have you done? Why is your God trying to kill us? What do you do for a living, Jonah?” They want to know everything about him. They want to know his total identity: job, origin, nationality, theology, everything.
Now, Jonah finally has to identify himself as a Hebrew, one of God’s people. He says that his God actually made heaven and earth, the land and the sea. He knows the Genesis story. He's not dealing with just a god of vegetation or a god of the wind like these pagans were accustomed to. Jonah’s dealing with God Almighty, the Lord of all creation who is sovereign over everything.
The God of mission
Jonah says, “I worship the God who made everything,” but his actions are telling a different story. He's running from his mission. Being missionally minded is not about clocking in and clocking out. This is not a 9–5 job. You see, you can’t say, “I worship God,” and remain divorced from his mission. They go hand in hand.
So, what about you?
- Who are you? What’s your identity?
- Are you paying lip service, meanwhile avoiding the mission?
- How does identity play into mission?