7 : ‘The sailors said to one another, ‘Let’s draw lots and find out who is to blame for getting us into this danger.’ They did so and Jonah’s name was drawn.
8 : So they said to him, ‘Now then, tell us! Who is to blame for this? What are you doing here? What country do you come from? What is your nationality?’
9 : ‘I am a Hebrew,’ Jonah answered. ‘I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made land and sea.’
10 : Jonah went on to tell them that he was running away from the Lord. The sailors were terrified, and said to him, ‘That was an awful thing to do!’
a) the ‘drawing of lots’ seems a strange way, to us, I guess, for making important decisions. I’m reminded that the apostles in the early church drew lots to decide between two potential new ‘disciples / apostles’ to fill the gap left by Judas (after praying about it). However strange to us, Jonah is identified as the one with an interesting story to tell, so they ask him who he is and what he’s doing there.
b) Jonah’s description of himself is interesting to read – firstly he identifies himself as a Hebrew, as one from the people aligned to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, who worship the God who created all things – to describe himself as a worshipper at this moment, is ironic, as he is being deliberately disobedient, and is running away from God.
He reveals the folly, too, of running away to sea, to flee from the One who made the sea (and the dry land I’m sure they all wished they were safely back upon).
c) not for the first or last time in this story, the ‘gentile’, mixed bag of believers in other gods, or in none, are the ones who show the greatest awareness and openness to the God Jonah claimed to worship, and are horrified that Jonah would confess to running away from him – it was an ‘awful’ thing, and it was putting the lives of all on board in peril. A reminder to me that my disobedience towards God, my ‘going in the opposite direction’ to the way God calls, doesn’t only affect me, but it has consequences (sometime perilous) for those around me, too.
God : ‘I, the Lord of sea and sky
I have heard my people’s cry
All who dwell in dark and sin
My hand will save
I who made the stars of night
I will make their darkness bright
Who will bear my light to them
Whom shall I send?’
Me / Us : ‘Here I am, Lord.
Is it I, Lord?
I have heard You calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if You lead me
I will hold Your people in my heart.’