“So the shipmaster came to him, 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 did not want to take God’s Word to Nineveh and to the Assyrians. Even though they were a cruel and corrupt people, God wanted to reach them with His call for repentance. Jonah was the instrument He wanted to use. Rather than obey God’s command and call, he decided to take a boat to Tarshish, running from the will of God. The world, the flesh, and the devil are always trying to get us to leave God’s will.
Jonah’s experience reminds us that direct disobedience is a serious offense with certain consequences. A storm interrupted Jonah’s peaceful voyage. Sailing should always be rough for a prodigal. The tempest was so severe that the mariners were fearful and began to cry out to their false gods. As they were frantically lightening the ship and vainly calling out to their gods, it was discovered that Jonah was asleep in the lower parts of the boat. The shipmaster awakened the disobedient prophet, urging Jonah to “call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not.”
It is interesting that the person most responsible for this terrible storm was the least concerned about his responsibility. It seems that this is still sometimes the case. Those who are running from God may appear to be less anxious about the difficulties they are causing, rather than those who are affected by their actions. How many storms have come to families, churches, marriages, and other relationships as a result of Jonahs? A true Christian and servant of God cannot abandon God’s will without serious consequences.
When the storms come, the one who is most rebellious often seems the least interested. “What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise.” The backslider needs to be awakened from his sleep. Our spiritual enemy wants us to slumber while some vessel carelessly takes us away from God’s will. We cannot afford to sleep on a voyage going in the opposite direction from where we should be moving.
Perhaps you see yourself drifting from the place God would have you to be or to serve. WHAT MEANEST THOU, O SLEEPER? The storm you have brought brings danger to those around you. And while you are sleeping, people are dying without the message you are to deliver.