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Jonah’s Ship and Paul’s Ship

When the human life comes to an end, judgment follows (Heb 9:27). Judgment is the process of making the final decision on whether a defendant is guilty or not and what the nature of the crime is if the defendant is guilty. It is the same for judgment in the spiritual world.

The people, who do not know how horrible the pain of hell is, waste their time on this earth, and they will meet a situation where they will have regrets at the end of their lives. Since God knows what happens at the end of human life, He came to this earth in the flesh. He established the new covenant by offering Himself as a sacrifice for our sins and suffering on the cross. By doing this, He opened the way for us, who were destined to go to hell—a place of punishment, to go back to the kingdom of heaven.

So, we should run towards heaven and put our whole heart and mind into the work of saving even more souls from hell and leading them to heaven. God wants us to return to heaven by expiating all the sins we committed in heaven. That is why God has entrusted us with the mission of preaching the gospel. Preaching is not simply delivering the words of the Bible to people, but letting them know what is at the end of the path which they are walking now, so that they can turn their steps toward heaven. Now, let us take some time to consider the meaning of preaching and think about what kind of mindset we should have to revere God fully.

A crisis caused by one person—Jonah’s ship

The Bible records that Jonah the prophet and Paul the apostle encountered a violent storm when each of them was on a ship. There was a difference between the ship which Jonah boarded and the ship Paul got on, although the ships were both made of the same material—wood; Jonah’s ship was the one that carried the person who disobeyed God’s will, and Paul’s ship was the one which carried the person who obeyed God’s will. What were their results? First, let us see what happened to the ship that Jonah boarded.

Jnh 1:1–17The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD. Then the LORD sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up . . . Then the sailors said to each other, “Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity.” They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah . . . This terrified them and they asked, “What have you done?” (They knew he was running away from the LORD, because he had already told them so.) The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?” “Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.” Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. At this the men greatly feared the LORD, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows to him. But the LORD provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights.

Nineveh was the capital of Assyria, and its inhabitants opposed God by worshiping pagan gods. So, Jonah said to himself, ‘If I go there and preach God’s word, who would listen to me? I might be killed if I preach there.’ With this kind of thought, he ran away from God and got on the ship. Then a violent storm arose, and the sea became rougher and rougher. As the ship was in danger of breaking up, the people on board guessed that it was surely because someone on the ship had offended God, and they cast lots. Of course, the lot fell on Jonah, and he acknowledged it was because of him that all this had happened. Being thrown into the sea, Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights. Jonah had an unrighteous heart, though temporarily. God gave him the great mission of saving the people, but he did not obey the will of God. Because of the one person, Jonah, the lives of the other people on the ship were also at risk.

Salvation brought by one person—Paul’s ship

In a similar situation, however, the ship that carried Paul faced a completely different result.

Ac 27:1–44 . . . So Paul warned them, “Men, I can see that our voyage is going to be disastrous and bring great loss to ship and cargo, and to our own lives also.” But the centurion, instead of listening to what Paul said, followed the advice of the pilot and of the owner of the ship . . . When a gentle south wind began to blow, they thought they had obtained what they wanted; so they weighed anchor and sailed along the shore of Crete. Before very long, a wind of hurricane force, called the “northeaster,” swept down from the island. The ship was caught by the storm and could not head into the wind; so we gave way to it and were driven along . . . We took such a violent battering from the storm that the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard. On the third day, they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands. When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved. After the men had gone a long time without food, Paul stood up before them and said: “Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss. But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ So keep up your courage, men . . .” . . . Just before dawn Paul urged them all to eat. “For the last fourteen days,” he said, “you have been in constant suspense and have gone without food—you haven’t eaten anything. Now I urge you to take some food. You need it to survive. Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head.” After he said this, he took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all. Then he broke it and began to eat. They were all encouraged and ate some food themselves. Altogether there were 276 of us on board. When they had eaten as much as they wanted, they lightened the ship by throwing the grain into the sea. When daylight came, they did not recognize the land, but they saw a bay with a sandy beach . . . He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and get to land. The rest were to get there on planks or on pieces of the ship. In this way everyone reached land in safety.

Ac 28:1–10 Once safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta. The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold. Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand . . . But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects. The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead, but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god. There was an estate nearby that belonged to Publius, the chief official of the island. He welcomed us to his home and for three days entertained us hospitably . . .

While preaching the gospel, Paul was arrested to be transported as a prisoner to Rome. On the voyage to Rome, a violent storm arose, and the soldiers who guarded him had many difficulties because of the roaring sea. Since Paul was on the ship, however, God spared them all for his sake; no one was hurt or injured. They all reached land safely. As they landed on an island, they were warmly welcomed there and gained such things as were necessary for their voyage again. So, they were able to arrive safely at their destination (Ac 28:11–14).

The ship carrying Jonah was in great peril because of him, but the ship carrying Paul and the people with him were saved for his sake. As Jonah had an unrighteous heart, he became the source of pain and suffering for all the people around him. Paul, however, obeyed God’s will, and all the people with him were safely rescued because of him.

There are people who are like Jonah and also those who are like Paul in their hearts toward God. We should have the same faith as Paul had, and lead all people around us to salvation in obedience to God’s will. As people of Zion, let us always have an upright faith in God who looks at the heart and receive God’s rich blessings.

Suffering of all Israel caused by Achan’s sin

A similar case also occurred at the time of Joshua; all the Israelites suffered greatly because of one man’s sin.

Jos 7:1–5But the Israelites acted unfaithfully in regard to the devoted things; Achan son of Carmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of them. So the LORD’s anger burned against Israel . . . So the men went up and spied out Ai. When they returned to Joshua, they said, “Not all the people will have to go up against Ai. Send two or three thousand men to take it and do not weary all the people, for only a few men are there.” So about three thousand men went up; but they were routed by the men of Ai, who killed about thirty-six of them. They chased the Israelites from the city gate as far as the stone quarries and struck them down on the slopes. At this the hearts of the people melted and became like water.

When the Israelites conquered Canaan, they defeated the city of Jericho which was Canaan’s first line of defense, and then attacked the city of Ai. At that time, one of the Israelites sinned against God.

There was a great difference in the battle they went to, full of faith, and the battle they waged after sinning against God. They thought that the city of Ai would easily be defeated, but they could not conquer it; rather, the people of Ai defeated the army of Israel. The news of Israel’s embarrassing defeat demoralized the Israelite army.

The defeat of Israel was caused by one man, Achan; it was not because Ai was a strong city or because the people there were gallant. Achan stole some of the sacred things that belonged to God, and the one person’s sin caused all Israel to suffer.

Jos 7:6–12Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell facedown to the ground before the ark of the L ORD , remaining there till evening. The elders of Israel did the same, and sprinkled dust on their heads. And Joshua said, “Ah, Sovereign LORD . . . O Lord, what can I say, now that Israel has been routed by its enemies? The Canaanites and the other people of the country will hear about this and they will surround us and wipe out our name from the earth. What then will you do for your own great name?” The LORD said to Joshua, “Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions. That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction.”

God rained down manna on the Israelites to eat every day for forty years, and made them victorious over their enemies. So, He led the people of Israel to Canaan. With God’s help, they were able to easily conquer Jericho, but they failed to defeat the city of Ai, which was much smaller than Jericho. It was all because of one man’s sin.

The role of one person

We need to keep in mind that we can cause everyone to suffer like Achan did, if we do not practice God’s will even though we know what God’s will is and it is time for us to put it into action. If we follow the will of God, we can save all the people around us, as Paul did. When we have a God-pleasing heart, God will change the entire situation through each and every one of us.

Ro 5:12Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned . . .

The “one man” through whom sin entered the world refers to Adam. Human beings have been groaning under the yoke of sin since one man, Adam, disobeyed God’s will. Likewise, the disobedience of one man, Jonah, caused such a fearful situation where a violent storm arose and the sea became rougher and rougher. Through one man, Adam, sin entered the world, but through one Man, Jesus, the way of salvation has been opened for all people in the world.

Ro 5:17–19For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

Christ opened the way of salvation for us by sacrificing Himself on the cross in obedience to God’s will, and He has entrusted us with the mission of saving mankind with a holy heart like that of God and with righteous acts. Christ’s one act of righteousness makes many people righteous in God’s sight and gives them salvation. Likewise, our each and every act of righteousness can save many people around us, including our family members, relatives, friends, and neighbors.

The role of one person is so important. Each of us should be one person like Paul and like Jesus, who benefit others and bring blessings to them. Not any of us must be the one person like Achan or like Jonah when he disobeyed God’s word. Just as Jonah’s wrong thinking and Achan’s wrongdoing caused a great loss for the people around them, one person’s wrong thinking or behavior causes pain and suffering to others. Let us not be the “one person” who sins, but be the “one person” who leads many people to salvation.

There are numerous people in the world; some of them try to exalt themselves, some try to become rich, and others try to get so many things. When we think about the end of their lives, they are all poor and wretched. They will disappear like the mist or the morning dew that appears for a little while and then vanishes, and they will suffer eternal punishment in hell if they are left alone. To save those wretched people and lead them to heaven by any means necessary, God has come to this earth. We, too, should have this heart of compassion. As Paul led the people whose lives were at risk to land safely, let us also lead all souls to the truth one after another, so that they will have peace by the spring of the water of life from Elohim and inherit the eternal kingdom of heaven.

No one around us can change if we just keep silent. If we still have a heart of disobedience to God, let us remove it and fill our hearts with God’s holy word. I want all you brothers and sisters in Zion to overcome difficult times today with hope for heaven and preach the peace and joy of heaven to all people around you.

Let us make the Jubilee Year 2014 a year of grace when all human beings are freed from sin for sure. I sincerely hope that you will lead many souls to repentance and receive great blessings when you go back to heaven.