Scripture Reading: Jonah 1:11-16
“Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows.” (Jonah 1:16)
What these pagan soldiers experienced had a profound impact on their lives. They knew they were going to perish, but God “saved” them when Jonah was thrown overboard. They experienced a new kind of fear — not a dreadful fear of perishing, but a holy fear of their new found Savior — the Lord.
Notice that the sailors used the covenant name of God — the LORD. This was God’s personal name that He had given to His people when He called Moses to lead them out of Egypt (Exodus 3:13-15). The name denotes the covenant relationship God establishes with His people. It points to a God who has chosen to enter into a saving relationship with His people.
These pagan sailors had come to know the true God who alone can save. They developed a proper and reverential fear for Him — “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight” (Proverbs 9:10). This was the beginning of true faith for them!
Notice the first thing they did — “they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows.” The sailors had come to know the Lord and their first act of faith was to offer a sacrifice. Their own sinfulness became clear to them and they offered the sacrifice that God required. Then they made vows to the Lord. We are not sure what those vows were, but I imagine they were vows to follow the Lord and to honor Him for what He had done for them.
Sometimes God uses major trials in people’s lives to bring them to faith and dependence upon Him. I’ve witnessed it many times. He will use tragedies, sickness, and other difficult circumstances to bring people to a saving faith. Whatever it takes, it is worth it!
Saving God, You are determined to have a people who will spend eternity with You. You chose them in eternity past and You will do whatever is necessary to bring them to Yourself. Thank You for saving me and for bringing me into a covenant relationship with You and with Your people.
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