Power of Questions – Jonah 1
As a literary device, the interrogative is a valuable tool in gaining clear understanding from others. Many a resolution never saw the light of day because carefully crafted questions were not offered. To be careless or lazy in seeking out information can be costly in terms of finances, safety and relationships. A lack of curiosity is a symptom of apathy which answers to the profound self centeredness of our “selfie” mentality.
The prophet Jonah had no concern for the cruel and wicked Assyrians even though God had called him to preach repentance to them. The prospect that they might just repent and be spared from God’s wrath was not acceptable in the prophets self absorbed and nationalistic mind. While running “from the presence of the Lord,” and sleeping on a ship bound for Tarshish, the godless mariners were about to perish in a tempest sent from God. When Jonah was discovered as the cause for their turmoil, the questions came in rapid succession. Those with compelling desires and concerns tend to ask many questions.
Now we find the “soul winner,” Jonah being upstaged by the soul winning Assyrians. They had more concern and urgency for souls than God’s prophet. Verse 13 shows their unwillingness to cast Jonah overboard, but rowing hard to avoid tossing the prophet overboard. Now for the urgent interrogation of Jonah, for surely he knew the cause of the calamity and how to get a hold of God for help. No less than seven questions (vv. 8-11) were peppered at Jonah, all forcing him to acknowledge his rebellion and callousness, but also causing him to become convicted of his sinful evasion to do God’s bidding.
In this case, they were questions of identity, responsibility and resolution that rebuked Jonah for his apathy and indifference. These men did not want to die. Just as God caused Jacob to confess his shameful character by asking his name, the questions put to Jonah and by extension ourselves can serve to elicit a confession of disobedience and a re evaluation of our collective calling to preach the gospel and to renew our efforts to win people to Jesus Christ.
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