by: Rev. David Bast
The whole story up to this point is really a tale of Jonah’s decline. From the very beginning Jonah has been going downhill, both literally and figuratively. He first went “down to Joppa” (1:3), traveling from the hill country of Israel down to the coast. Then he went down into the hold of the ship (1:5). Eventually he went overboard into the sea (1:15) where he sank down, down, to the very roots of the mountains (2:5-6).
Jonah’s physical descent mirrors his spiritual decline. Jonah is being degraded. Aside from everything else, his experience is profoundly embarrassing. Imagine a prophet being called to prayer by sailors—a class not generally noted for piety. See Jonah sitting there while they cast lots to determine the guilty party, and he is marked. Watch as they drop him overboard like a sack of garbage. How far we can sink when we turn from God!
You can’t ignore reality forever. Sooner or later, reality catches up with you, and God is Ultimate Reality. Have you ever seen a little child playing the game where they hold their hands up in front of their face and cry, “You can’t see me”? That’s cute in a toddler, but it’s not so cute in an adult. You can’t live as if God doesn’t see you, as if he has no claim upon you or authority over what you do. People who try to do that begin to slide into the depths; their lives unravel, and eventually they hit rock bottom.