I’ve recently heard separate commentaries on two Biblical stories that have the common element of ships enduring violent storms: Rick Joyner referenced the story of Jonah in a recent word and Paul’s adventurous trip to Rome at the end of Acts was taught on by Lance Wallnau. In both teachings, the United States, battered by extreme circumstances, is prophetically represented by the ship and the church, full of truth and destiny, is represented by God’s messenger aboard.
Running from God into a Storm
In the story of Jonah, we see God’s chosen messenger board a ship in rebellion to God’s commission to cry out against Nineveh and its unrighteousness. As storms arise and the sailors fear for their lives, Jonah is managing to remain asleep. It’s the heathen sailors who must shake Jonah awake and demand he pray to his god, who happens to be the One True God. They had tried praying to their gods, but to no avail.
Jonah was aware of the solution to their predicament all along. But he was so apathetic about his life and so rebellious in his ways that it took the sailors drawing straws and demanding an answer from him before he would cough it up. Sheer terror came upon them when they realized that all they were enduring was because Jonah was rebelling.
Yet, even at that revelation, the sailors “rowed even harder to get the ship to the land”. But it was in vain. The way out of the problem was beyond human apprehension. So they reluctantly cast God’s rebellious servant overboard and pleaded for mercy!
Running with God Through a Storm
In Luke’s account of Paul’s voyage to Rome as a prisoner, we see someone completely willing. In Acts 23:11, the Lord appeared before Paul and told him that He would be preaching the Gospel in Rome. From that point on, we see no signs of doubt within Paul that this promise will surely come to pass—even being absent the details. He simply walked out his faith with boldness and confidence.
This confidence in his God-appointed destiny is what carried him through the storms and shipwreck. When all hope seemed lost among the sailors—they hadn’t eaten in nearly two weeks—the prisoner Paul gathered them together and charged them to remain courageous, for an angel had visited him and promised he would testify before Caesar. And all the sailors would arrive safely in Rome with him, to boot!
A shipwreck on Malta and a healing revival later, God’s promise came to pass and Paul had passed through the storm that was meant to keep the truth of the Gospel from reaching Rome.
One Destiny; Two Paths
I wonder if we’re not nearing the times when America, as a vessel carrying a sleepy, backslidden church, is about to be brought to the point of shipwreck. I wonder if the world will shake us from our slumber and demand we call upon God for salvation and deliverance. I wonder if we’ll repent from our rebellion or apathetically allow ourselves to be cast overboard, good as dead.
How much better would it be for the American church to willingly embrace her destiny to be a faithful witness of the Kingdom of God to the world? We could stand unshakably upon our promises, triumphantly weather any storm, and deliver His Word to the ends for the earth. And we’d save the crew and an island while we were at it!
As is often (if not always) the case with God, things can get done the easy way or the hard way—the choice is ours. Things started out easy in the Garden of Eden. God planted; Adam and Even tended and harvested. As Adam and Eve filled the earth and subdued it under the leadership of God, His Kingdom would incrementally expand to fill all of earth. Then came the Fall and suddenly things got hard. Childbirth got painful, relationships developed strife and crops became crowded by thorns and thistles. The Kingdom of God would have to be established amidst a ruling enemy and the Curse.
In God’s wisdom, he works all things together for our good, but there’s often an easier way. In Jonah’s case, the good that came from him setting sail on the high seas in rebellion is that the sailors encountered the Living God and vowed to serve Him. Praise the Lord! Situation redeemed. But God’s best was for Jonah to obey and deliver the word to Nineveh in reverence and with gladness. God could save the sailors another way.
The point being, the American church can be Paul or Jonah—a rebellious prophet or a willing apostle. We can run from our destiny, slumber through crisis and begrudgingly fulfill our purpose through a near-death experience and bizarre, supernatural intervention. Or we can embrace our destiny, see our country through our storms with prophetic revelation and insight, heal the nations of the earth, and walk in divine favor, power and blessing.
Either way, the job will get done. Que sera sera. But one is pleasing to God, though, and is loaded with reward and blessing—in this life and in the next. The other isn’t pleasing and leaves the rebellious servant bitter, angry and resentful.
We’re going through a storm regardless. Which would we rather be?