We are dealing with the second of the seven questions that those in the troubled ship with Jonah were asking him. I would not want you to miss the thread of this series, if you are just reading this; you can link up with part 4 to know what led us to this discussion.
Jonah’s colleagues in the ship, heading towards Tarshish, asked him when they ran into trouble on the sea: “What is thine occupation?” Jonah 1:8, KJV. You can imagine that this question was not asked in a cool and gentle manner or as if having fun. It was a time of urgent and serious scrutiny. They could not understand why he should be fast asleep at the lower deck while everyone was in panic. They wanted him to hurriedly answer the question.
It seemed to the people that Jonah must have offended the gods or goddesses who were seriously angry at him and were ready to destroy him and whatever may surround him. As everyone was calling on his or her god, they were inquisitive to know which of the gods Jonah had offended. Perhaps, through his occupation, they might know if he was a servant of any god and had made a wrong sacrifice or disobeyed in any way and he was now being called to question.
I think it would not be necessary to ask somebody who is serious about his work that kind of question. It depicts that such a servant of god lacks devotion and so he is not known with what he believes. It connotes slackness in the service to his god. Think about it, here is a grave in the angry deep, trying to swallow everyone; and all eyes are now focused on one person among them with a great suspicion. Think of the great pressure that would be mounted against such a person. How would you feel if that person looks unruffled, calm, and cool in the midst of it all? Did Jonah lose hope of surviving at that juncture, and just left everything for God to do whatever he would? Was he praying? Was he numbed?
One would think that at such a turbulent period on the sea, Jonah should be noticed as a servant of the living God by his confidence and confession in the only God who can deliver in the time of trouble. The people should easily identify him by his effectual fervent prayer of faith which avails much and by the use of the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, to avert the problem. These could not happen because he knew he had deserted God. Therefore he could not tell them what his occupation was. He had lost his bearing!
When the road gets tough, can people identify us as servants of God? When life becomes rough, can we still hold unto God in obedience to God’s leading? As a servant of God, will you be confident to declare your occupation in the face of challenging situations? You can pray: “Lord lift me up and let me stand, on the top of the tower of grace. I know, Lord, that your grace is sufficient for me. Lift me high, O God; in Jesus’ name. Amen.”