"These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so." -Acts 17:11

This is a study outline that will direct you, but it will not do your thinking for you. The purpose of this style is to encourage you to do a good deal of leg work in your own bible. Read the passage and the opening statement. Understand the text and its context. Read each question, then look at the lettered (A, B, C, etc.) thought. Look at each of the numbered, supporting references to get the full meaning of the thought. Follow the logic yourself before reading the concluding statement. Finally, give this study legs of its own by putting it into practice in your life.

"Sleeping While the World Perishes"    Jonah 1:4-5 (KJV)

"But the LORD sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken. Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep."
Jonah has escaped the will of God by running from Him... or has he? Not possible. Jonah must know that he cannot escape the will of God any more than he could escape the presence of God. What does he hope to gain by running? Did he hope that he could resist God until the "forty days" were expired and Nineveh had been judged? Doubtful, since no mention of the time period has been made, yet. Did he think that the Word of God would never get to the Ninevites if he did not take it to them? Again, not likely since there were several other prophets around during Jonah's lifetime. What was he hoping for, and why was he able to sleep so peacefully when the world around him was in great turmoil?
  1. What was going on in the world around Jonah?
    1. God was at work
      1. v.4 - "But the LORD..."; in contrast to the first words of v.3!
      2. v.4 - "...sent out..." - to hurl; from God, directed at... the ship? No, at Jonah.
      3. v.4 - "...was like to be broken." - in their estimation the ship would be shattered; no ignoring the hand of God.
    2. Tempest and Turmoil
      1. v.5 - "...were afraid..." - awestruck;
      2. Psa 83:15 - who are the people deserving of this treatment from God?
      3. Isa 54:7-11 - and what is promised to God's people?
  2. What were the people of the world doing?
    1. Living in fear
      1. v.5 - "...were afraid, and cried..."; overwhelmed and in need of help
      2. v.5 - "...and cried every man unto his god..."; seeking supernatural answers
      3. 1 Peter 4:18 - but this storm is for Jonah, should these men be affraid?
    2. Trying every form of works
      1. v.5 - "...unto his god..." - kneeling before idols
      2. v.5 - "...cast forth the wares..." - trying to lighten their load? or are they giving a sacrifice of goods?
      3. Eph 2:8-9 - how much "wares" would be enough to please God?
  3. Where is the light of the world?
    1. Gone down into the ship
      1. v.5 - "But Jonah was gone down..."; continuing the downward spiral of v.3
      2. Eze 32:24 - the term "gone down" is often associated with death and a pit
      3. v.5 - "...and he lay..."; retired from usefulness
    2. Fast asleep
      1. v.5 - "...and was fast asleep."; completely insensitive to the call and work of God
      2. Judges 4:21 - unwatchful, weary of running, and conscience seared
      3. Luke 8:23 - contrast with the peace of God
      4. Prov 6:9-11 - asleep while the work of God is ignored
What does Jonah hope to gain by running? What do you or I hope will happen when we try to ignore the callings on our lives? We know that we cannot get away from God. Isn't it that we just hope that God will find someone else for the job? When I feel the leading of the Spirit to share Christ with some stranger, but I quench the Spirit with reasons why it was not the right time or place, don't I fall back on the excuse that, if God really wants that person to be saved, someone else will tell them about Christ? Jonah didn't want the assignment because he didn't want to see these people saved and he didn't want to be the instrument of their salvation. Jonah was blatantly honest before God and before all of us in chapter 4, verse 2. He came clean and admitted his terrible prejudice against the Assyrians. But what about you and I?

Let's jump forward from Jonah's time to our own. In our minds let's build a picture. We know the Great Commission. We can't miss it. It is given to us in Matthew 28, in Mark 16, in Luke 24, and very pointedly in Acts 1:8. We have received the call and yet, of all the unsaved people that we have met since the time we first heard it, what percentage would you say have heard the Gospel from our lips? I can hear myself saying, "It's not my job to save the whole world!" I have a whole stack of reasons that I can draw on at a moment's notice. My favorite is, "Oh, but I am seeking the lost for Christ. I believe in the friendship evangelism method." HA! Did you just hear someone laugh? A great belly laugh. That was the person who knows me best of anyone on this earth. But this is not a joke, it is a travesty. I'm a tree full of excuses, but no fruit. What would you do with an apple tree that grew IOU's instead of apples?

Let's take a look at Acts 1:8 - "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." Note that twice the word "shall" is used. Are we going to be the witnesses that we have been commissioned to be, or will we be Jonah's before our Lord? There's is likely a bit of Jonah in each of us, sleeping in the bottom of the boat while the world is perishing around us.