July 22, 2015Jonah 1:3; Matthew 14:28-29
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
It wasn’t the same boat that these two men were in, and they lived in different eras – about 800 years apart! But they each had quite the experience being in a boat in a storm! And they show us a glimpse of how God will work in our lives. The first of Two Men In A Boat is Jonah, and the scripture is Jonah 1:3. But let’s look at some background: Nineveh was a very wicked city in what is today Iraq. The city of Mosul is built on the site of ancient Nineveh. The people of this ancient kingdom were so wicked, if another city or region knew they would be invaded by the Ninevites, some even committed suicide instead of facing their cruelty!
The inhabitants of Nineveh were inveterate enemies of Israel – and Jonah was called by God to go and warn them of impending judgment! (see Jonah 1:1, 2). Jonah ran the other way – verse 3:
But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. He went
down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and
went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.
You have probably heard the story recorded in this short book of four chapters. God sent a storm so severe that the ship in which Jonah was a passenger was in danger of sinking! The sailors ended up throwing the rebellious prophet overboard, and Jonah was swallowed by a big fish – probably a whale! After three days and nights inside the whale’s belly, Jonah – having repented – was vomited out on shore and given a second command: “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you.” (Jonah 3:2). The prophet’s message is found in Jonah 3:4: “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” The inhabitants, from the king on down, repented, and God spared that city, giving it another 120 years! This gives me encouragement concerning America – judgment is not absolutely set if we sincerely repent! But this is not the point I want to make in this blog.
The second of Two Men In A Boat is Peter. And the incident we are considering is found in Matthew 14:22 through 33. Jesus had told His disciples to get into a boat and go – without Him – to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. They obeyed, but a storm came up, and they were struggling against the wind and waves. Jesus came walking on the water. The disciples, it says in verse 26 (Good News Bible), “…were terrified. ‘It’s a ghost!’ …and…they…screamed with fear.” But the Lord assured them, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” (verse 27). Then comes our scripture – Matthew 14:28 and 29:
And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me come to
You on the water.” So He said, “Come.” And when Peter was come down
out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.
If you are familiar with the story, you know Peter actually walked on the water for a few steps! But he took his eyes off Jesus “…and, starting to sink he cried out…’Lord, save me!’ And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him…” (verses 30, 31).
We could comment about many things concerning these incidents of Two Men In A Boat. But I want to compare the two this way: Both men experienced a storm at sea when they were in a boat…
• But the first – Jonah – was in the storm because he disobeyed God! To solve the problem in which he found himself, he had to confess his sin, repent, and obey God! And it took a death-accepting decision and three days in a whale’s belly – while his hair was being digested off his body – for Jonah to deal with the storm! Now the storm that threatened the ship and the sailor’s lives was quelled the moment they threw the rebellious prophet into the water. But the storm that raged within Jonah’s heart was quieted and then raged again even to the end of the book! We don’t know if that storm was ever resolved!
• On the other hand, Peter found himself in a life-threatening storm because he obeyed the Lord! Jesus knew what was going to happen on that Galilean sea. Several of the disciples probably did too, since they were experienced fishermen on that same lake. Conditions often were ripe for the winds to come howling down between the mountains and to churn up the waters into a deadly force. But Jesus had told them to “…get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away.” (verse 22). Peter and the others were in the perfect will of God when the storm hit and raged around them!
The point I want to make about Two Men In A Boat is this: When the storm comes, discern what has caused the turmoil, and decide on the appropriate action – repent or trust! If you are in the storm because of being disobedient – repent! If you are obeying what Jesus has led you to do, but still a storm is raging around you – trust!
Whatever the cause, God is big enough, strong enough, wise enough, and resourceful enough to get you through the storm!