(In case you’re wondering, our family is going through a detailed study of Jonah for the National Bible Bee.)
And they said to one another, “Come, let us cast lots, that we may know on whose account this evil has come upon us.” So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah. Then they said to him, “Tell us on whose account this evil has come upon us. What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?” And he said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” Then the men were exceedingly afraid and said to him, “What is this that you have done!” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them.
“The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.” (Proverbs 16:33) I wonder if Jonah thought that perhaps the lot would point at somebody else. But if God wants to call you out, there’s no escaping it.
Interesting that Jonah answers all of the sailors’ questions except for his occupation. Chances are that Jonah didn’t want the shame of admitting he was a prophet that wasn’t delivering the message. On the other hand, the stories of the earlier prophets like Elijah and Elisha were probably famous, even among non-believers like these sailors. And if there’s one thing those stories say, it’s that you don’t mess with a prophet of God. If Jonah had told them he was a prophet, would they have been afraid of him, instead of God? Would they have been to afraid to throw Jonah into the sea, thus losing their chance to be saved?
Both the lot and Jonah’s partial confession show how God can work even things that don’t acknowledge Him to do His will.