Jonah and the Violent Storm

1: 4-16

Scene one closed with Jonah running away from the LORD. Scene two opens by describing ADONAI’s reaction to Yonah’s flight, as God hurls a storm on the sea. The tension that brings the scene to life is introduced immediately. Will the ship break up and all aboard perish (1:4)? Yonah’s confession of faith has been carefully placed at the midpoint of the chiastic structure. There are 94 words in the Hebrew text from the scene’s beginning in 1:4 to the beginning of the speech in 1:9 (A Hebrew I am) and 94 words in 1:10-15. 1:16 is a reflection on what scene two as a whole says about ADONAI, stands outside the chiastic structure. Both the chiastic makeup and the exact balance of the number of words on each side serve to place the focus for this third scene on Jonah's confession.35

A The LORD hurls a storm (1:4)

B Sailors pray, then act (1:5ab)

C Jonah acts (1:5c)

D Sailors question Jonah (1:6-8)

E Yonah confesses, “A Hebrew I am” (1:9)

D Sailors question Jonah (1:10-11)

C Jonah speaks (1:12)

B Sailors act, then pray (1:13-14)

A The sailors hurl Jonah (1:15-16)

The principle person in the narrative is God, not Jonah. To accomplish His purposes, ADONAI sovereignly controlled various events recorded in the book, overcame the prophet’s rebellion, and opened the hearts of the Ninevites. Here the LORD miraculously altered the direction of His reluctant servant’s itinerary. A life interrupted. Between Yonah’s disobedience, his hardened conscience, the ferocious storm of discipline, the frightening waves and the gaze of the sailors staring a hole through him, I’m quite sure he never thought anything good was going to come out of this. But it did.


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