Jonah rose 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, away from the presence of the Lord. But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up.
Jonah 1:3-4 We are not in control of creation. But God is—and He is therefore worthy of all our praise and adoration.
Divine control over the oceans—indeed, over all creation—was a reason for constant praise in the psalmists’ work. When we read the Psalms, we discover again and again that God’s people delight in praising His sovereign power over the created order: His control over the seas, even over the ebb and flow of their tides.
We see in Psalm 33, for instance, that “he gathers the waters of the sea into jars; he puts the deep into storehouses” (v 7, NIV). It’s a dramatic picture—and it is part of God’s excellence and glory. In the same way that we may move and pour a gallon of lemonade, God Almighty is able to simply gather up the oceans of the world and put them in jars. How right and fitting, then, that we worship our Creator God in awe and reverence!
Likewise, God’s authority over creation encourages us to trust in His providential care. Later in Jonah’s story, we discover that the Lord “appointed a plant,” He “appointed a worm,” and He “appointed a scorching east wind” to fulfill His plans for Jonah and for the people of Nineveh (Jonah 4:6-8). How different this is from the pagan mindset both in Jonah’s day and in our own. The crewmen on Jonah’s ship regarded the sea as an uncontrollable primeval force at whose mercy they were all captive. In the same way, we are confronted today by the notion that “Mother Nature” is an untamable and merciless force. But the truth is that all things, including the entire created order, are God’s servants (Psalm 119:91). We are not left to be cast about on the sea of chance or buffeted by blind, impersonal forces. No, God “determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names” (Psalm 147:4).
Only the sovereign Creator Lord can gather the seas in heaps and command all of creation to do His bidding. Not only that, but He chooses to direct His commands for the good of His people. The great wind that God hurled upon the sea as Jonah’s boat sailed toward Tarshish was not intended to be a curse upon him but rather a call to him to return to faithful obedience to his God. What God sent upon Jonah, God also saved Jonah from. How remarkable: God summoned up the immense power of a storm simply to bring one errant child back home.
Truly, all things are arranged for the glory of God and the good of His people—including you. It is this God we praise, this God we trust, and this God to whom we commit our lives. Let this truth be on your lips today: “Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable” (Psalm 145:3).