And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is on us…
I. JONAH DETECTED BY THE LOT. Heathens cast that lot; still the disposal of it was of the Lord. He guided the fateful token, and so it fell to Jonah. Now that the Divine Spirit is given to those that seek him, we are released from dependence upon the indications of the lot. But still by things as little seeming as lot casting, backsliders are discovered to themselves if not to others. A cock crow detected the recreant Peter. And now by some memorial of better days, an old letter perhaps, a book inscribed with a once-cherished Christian name, or a time-yellowed ticket of Church membership, the backslider is self-detected. Oh the upbraiding days that are no more! Oh, reproaching light of the irrevocable years! Now he has sinned away the light, has grieved out of his heart the joy of the Lord. "The lot fell upon Jonah," and he was detected.
II. JONAH DETECTED BY THE SAILORS' MANY QUESTIONS. "Thine occupation?" A prophet! But so faithless to the prophetic call, so unworthy of the prophetic name! "Whence comest thou?" From Gath-hepher; from high, if perilous, mission to Nineveh, seeking, as he tells them, to flee from the presence of the Lord, to escape (how guilty! how futile!) from the great universal presence. "What thy country?" The land of privilege, the Holy Land! "Of what people art thou?" Of the people of God, the people chosen to be the depository of the Divine truth, and the witnesses to the Divine character. Questions these to go home. Backslider, "what thine occupation"? You have been, it may be, a Christian worker, a teacher of the young, a speaker of the truth. And not now. Why not? "Whence comest thou?" From a pious early home? From scenes of Christian activity and service that miss you, that know you no more? "What thy country, thy people?" A citizen of this Christian country, with such opportunities to be a Christian man and to do Christ's work among men, and yet you act as if gospel light had never shone to you, as if the news of salvation had never sounded in your ears.
III. JONAH DETECTED BY THE SAILORS' UNANSWERABLE QUESTION. "Why hast thou done this?" was the question that pierced deepest of all. It was unanswered. Jonah could not attempt excuses, and reason for his flight there was none. Backslider, once you could find time for Christian service; you had joy in it; you were a blessing; you were blest. Not so now. You have withdrawn from Christian work. "Why hast thou done this?" What valid reason can you give? Once you were in fellowship with God's people. Not so now. The world's spell is on you. You are intent on making a position, pushing the fortune of your family; pleasure is your pursuit, ambition your aim. But were you not happier in the former days than in these? "Why hast thou done this?" Once you tasted that the Lord was gracious; now you are far out on the godless, reckless deep, where there is no peace. Why is this? "Speechless" you must be. For such guilty flight reason there can be none. - G.T.C.
Parallel VersesKJV: And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah.