Jonah 1:10 Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him. Why hast thou done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them.12 And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you.15 So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging.16 Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the Lord, and made vows.17 Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. 2:1Then Jonah prayed….
Are you onboard or overboard? That’s a good question for us. Jonah is mentioned in the book of Second Kings. He prophesied against the king. There we find that he lived north of the town of Nazareth toward the Syrian border. The Word of the Lord came to him and told him what to do. The Lord’s voice speaks to all of us today, whatever our spiritual condition. He knows how we stand and where we are. The Lord told Jonah what to do. What does he want you to do?
Jonah was to leave home and go to Babylon to the city of Nineveh. It was a very wicked city. It is close to the present-day Baghdad. Imagine if the Lord told you to go to Bagdad. How would you feel? Well, it may not be Baghdad, but God is telling each of us something. Instead of heading that way Jonah went his own way. He boarded a ship for Tarshish. In those days going to Tarshish was like going to the end of the world because it was as far west as someone could go; it was the end of the known world. When God said go due east, he went west—the opposite direction he was told to go. He followed his own desires and wishes. Does that sound like how you’re treating God today? When he says do this, you do that. When he says be this type of person, do you do something else?
Jonah got in bad shape. It plainly tells us he found himself in the midst of a storm that wouldn’t have been there except for him. Long before he jumped overboard into the sea, he had already gone overboard in his heart. I’ve been at the back of a ship on the sea. I looked out and thought to myself if I fall overboard no one will ever know; they’d never find me. I’m a good swimmer, but I’d not stand a chance if I went over undetected. Overboard can mean two opposite things. One is excessive—going overboard by eating at McDonalds all the time. The other means abandon. Jonah abandoned God. How did he go that? He slipped overboard in the way he was thinking. When you second guess God’s Word, the principles and standards of being saved and how to live after you’re saved, you’re in trouble. Satan tried to get Jesus to second guess the Word of God. If he’ll do it to Jesus, he’ll do it to us.
The devil will get us to feel overboard. That’s when you become cold hearted or worldly hearted. When you go overboard in thinking, it will go to the heart. You’ll fall out of fellowship with God. When your heart goes away you sever the relationship with God. You can pretend and imitate. People may think they are onboard when in fact they are a step away from being overboard. We all know people who used to live for God but they’ve gone overboard.
Jonah was overboard in the middle of the ocean. He was away from the fellowship of God but he couldn’t escape the presence of God. If you backslide, it won’t be long until the storm will come after you. Jonah was in the bottom of the ship sleeping thinking all was all right. The Lord was already there in the storm. Jonah had a rude awakening. We need to stay awake and not go overboard. The most miserable people in the world are those who’ve left God. It’s time to get back on board if you are in that condition.
The men on the ship wanted to get Jonah to safety. Safety wasn’t theirs to give. If you quit church, change preachers, change denominations—it doesn’t matter what you change. You cannot escape God’s presence. Why not be onboard instead of overboard! I’ve been on boats and slipped overboard. I’ve fallen overboard. I’ve jumped overboard. I’ve never been thrown overboard. Jonah was. He had fallen away from the safety of the ship—the safe ship is Jesus. Only one man walked on water and that was with the permission of Jesus. He could have stayed on the ship because Jesus was coming, but he asked to get out and go to Jesus. He was fine until he began to look at the storm instead of Jesus; he began to sink.
Let me ask you. Are you onboard or overboard? Are you slipping in your mind? That quickly gets to the heart. You’ll soon be dropping out of church. It doesn’t take a long time. Look how quickly Peter deserted the Lord. In a matter of minutes he was cursing like the fisherman he used to be. Jonah was adrift and swallowed by something he didn’t know existed. There will be monstrous situations in your life if you jump overboard and go away from God.
Jonah prayed for mercy in that fish’s belly. He promised to get onboard and go in the direction God wanted. Are you doing that? Are you overboard? If so, you need to make your way back and get onboard with the Lord.