Jonah 1:4-6 (NIV) 4 Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. 5 All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship.
But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep. 6 The captain went to him and said, “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us so that we will not perish.”
Jonah 1:13-16 (NIV) 13 Instead, the men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before. 14 Then they cried out to the Lord, “Please, Lord, do not let us die for taking this man’s life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, Lord, have done as you pleased.” 15 Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. 16 At this the men greatly feared the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to him.
Was talking with a friend recently who hasn’t yet committed to receiving Jesus as Lord. He represented a common perspective – that all the religions of the world are actually worshiping the same god that Christians and Jews are worshiping, they just have differing ways to Him. While this thought is a temporary comfort to the one who doesn’t yet feel comfortable giving up their own hold on a brief life here on this earth, it is a very dangerous and precarious notion that fails to take into account the other religions and their own perspectives on god(s). The understanding of a god, for many religions of the world, is one of many beings that have control over events and circumstances of life. The purpose of worship is to appease and gain their favor so that negative things can be averted. Other beliefs embrace the concept of a centered deity that has more to do with self and nature than an actual God above and over all. There are certainly many attempts at resolving the way life occurs and what might be affecting it, but to come to the conclusion that they are all going the same direction is quite apart from a true understanding of God Himself and the innumerable man-made gods that are worshiped.
Where the difference is proven is at the time of a need for true intervention, when the natural is in need of the supernatural. This was demonstrated by Elijah before the prophets of Baal, when their god was proven to be nonexistent before the Great I Am. If they had been calling to the same God, they surely would have come up with the same results. Jonah’s encounter with the men on the ship is another example of how gods give way to the Lord. It’s interesting in verses 4-6 how the men are each crying out to their own god. They even encourage Jonah to call on his God, as if he is just among the others in their random desperate cries for help. Once they had come to the end of their efforts to save themselves, however, it’s interesting that their cries were no longer scattered to random gods that each might have some affect upon their circumstances. Their prayers were now to the Lord, not just Jonah’s God, but THE LORD. It was proven for these men this day, that praying to random gods was not simply pursuit of the same way to resolution of circumstances. There actually is one God that will be proven to be real and effective where all others fail. He is not just a god, but is the Lord.
In the Lord Jesus Christ, there is worship of the one and only God and access to His unrivaled power that no other way of man can come close to comparing. In our society the gods that are worshiped may not be in the form of a carved figure, but in philosophy, science, government, occupation, entertainment, etc. In them are ways to the satisfaction of life that very effectively divert from the only God who can truly calm the storm and consume the drenched wood with fire from heaven. They are not pursuits that are going to the same goal/solution, but are merely random individual gods that will fail when natural human means are insufficient. For each one who lets go of the way of man for simple acceptance of the Lord as the only God, there is a way to eternal life He provides that no other god can even give legitimate direction. For a prayer to be lifted that will actually bring salvation when all other efforts fail, it can only be made to the Lord. Jesus is the only way to the Father. All other routes will only lead to needless frustrated human efforts.