[T]he men were exceedingly afraid, and said to [Jonah], “Why have you done this?” For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them. Then they said to him, “What shall we do to you that the sea may be calm for us?”—for the sea was growing more tempestuous. And he said to them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will become calm for you. For I know that this great tempest is because of me.” Nevertheless, the men rowed hard to return to land, but they could not, for the sea continued to grow more tempestuous against them. Therefore, they cried out to the LORD and said, “We pray, O LORD, please do not let us perish for this man’s life, and do not charge us with innocent blood; for You, O LORD, have done as it pleased You.” So they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice to the LORD and took vows.
Sometimes God shows up in small ways, and sometimes He shows up in big ways. The storm that Jonah brought with him because of his disobedience was of the sort that caused those men on the ship to know that something other than nature was at work. The storm had great power, and it made them afraid. Once they spoke with Jonah and realized that his God had brought the storm, the solution Jonah offered made them even more fearful. That is why they did not toss him into the sea right away. They saw what this God could do, and they feared what might happen if they laid a hand on his servant. When their situation did not improve, they said that prayer to cover themselves and hoped that Jonah was right.
God showed himself two times here. His first appearance came in the form of the great tempest. As the time passed, it grew in intensity and became a greater and greater threat. As the storm increased, the men could not deny the power of God. As afraid as they were to throw his servant into the water, they seemed even more afraid of how intense this storm could get if they did not. God’s second appearance came after they took this step in faith. The same power that caused such a great tempest diffused it just as easily. Whether in riling up the storm or bringing it to an end, God’s might was displayed in both works. That is what these men saw on that day, and both the storm and the calm showed them that this is the one God to be feared.
The power of God works both ways, and we should see him in it regardless of how He appears. God can build up, but He also can tear down. He can give us favor to reach great heights, but He also can stop us dead in our tracks. The specific manifestation of his might is not necessarily the focus. It is the end goal of this manifestation of might that matters. The hope is that those who experience the moving power of God would come to recognize and fear him. The hope is that the showing of God’s might would bring some new worshippers as these men became. Father, allow us to see this at work in our lives, that an exhibition of your power would bring us lost souls and have them be saved.