But Jonah ran away from the LORD - Jonah 1:3a (NIV)
It was a rainy Monday morning and Robert Grey and Bill Peterson were checking out deep sea fishing gear at the local sporting goods store. "I really think this is a great idea that you came up with." Bill told Robert as he picked up a rod "Maybe I can catch me a shark." "Not with that thing." Robert said, "That thing is barely big enough for a crappie."
"Well, than," Bill said as he grabbed for a little bigger rod, "Will this one be big enough?" "No, no, no!" Robert shook his head and picked up a rod and handed it to Bill. "What's this?" Bill asked "It looks like an oversized flag pole." "That, Bill," Robert laughed, "is the fishing pole you'll need to catch your shark."
"Wow!" Bill said as he started to fall over, "I'm not sure I can handle something this big." "Wait till you see the fishing tackle you're going to need." Robert said as he pulled Bill into the next aisle. When they got in there Bills eyes almost popped out of his head, his mouth dropped open and he dropped the rod knocking over a big display.
As Bill's eyes slowly scanned the shelves in front of him he saw lures and hooks that were bigger than his tackle box. "How will I ever hook my worms on one of those?" Bill asked as he pointed to a lure. "Ah, Bill." Robert said as he shook his head, "We don't use worms, we use chickens." After a few minutes of silence, Bill said "Maybe this cruise trip isn't such a good idea."
"You know what will happen if we stay?" Robert reminded Bill, "Besides we already have the tickets and I can't wait to see the Bermuda Triangle." "Isn't that where all those weird things happen?" Bill said with some concern in his voice, "And things disappear?" he continued. "Don't worry" Robert tried to assure Bill, "That's only a myth. The only place I know of where weird things happen and things disappear is Harold's bedroom."
"I guess you're right," Bill sighed, "Maybe I'll just sit on deck and play shuffle board with all those old people." "Well, you better enjoy it." Robert said, "I worked hard to make sure we would be gone on this trip the same time Randy was planning on having us go on that mission trip to Puerto Rico. Doing mission work is the last thing I want to do."
"I don't really want to do mission work either." Bill said in agreement as he put the flag pole back where Robert found it. "I think the travel agent said we could use the cruise ship's fishing gear." Robert said to cheer Bill up, "Maybe I'll go for something bigger than a shark, like a whale." "I guess that might be fun." Bill said and started to smile, "Just as long as the whale doesn't swallow us."
The 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.
Jonah 1:1-3 (NIV)
When we think of Jonah we almost always thing of how he ran away from a God given command and was swallowed by a whale. We may think that as a prophet of God he should have known better but do we ever think about how much we are just like him. Like Jonah, many of us would rather run the other way, come up with excuse, plug our ears, or pass things on to someone else than do what God would have us to do.
Like Jonah we have a commission to make God known, to share the good news of Jesus Christ to the world.
- Matthew 5:14-16 - You are the light of the world - like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. (NLT)
- Matthew 28:18-20 - Jesus told his disciples, "I have been given all authority in heaven and earth. Therefore go and make disciples in all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and then teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you; and be sure of this--that I am with you always, even to the end of the world." (TLB)
- Mark 16:15 - Jesus said to his followers, “Go everywhere in the world, and tell the Good News to everyone. (NCV)
When we fail to heed God's commands like the ones above than we are nothing better than Jonah or...
- The fool - Matthew 7:26-27 - Everyone who hears my words and does not obey them is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. It rained hard, the floods came, and the winds blew and hit that house, and it fell with a big crash. (NCV)
- The lazy Servant - Matthew 25:14-30 - Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone. He gave five bags of silver to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last ... But the servant who received the one bag of silver dug a hole in the ground and hid the master’s money ... But the master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy servant! ... Then he ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one with the ten bags of silver ... from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (NLT)
Trying to escape God makes things worse. Jonah knew that God had a specific job for him, but he didn't want to do it. Tarshish could be one of any number of Phoenicia's western ports. Nineveh was toward the east. Jonah decided to go as far west as he could. When God gives us directions through his Word, sometimes we run in fear or in stubbornness, claiming that God is asking too much. It may have been fear, or anger at the wideness of God's mercy, that made Jonah run. But running got him into worse trouble. In the end, Jonah understood that it is best to do what God asks in the first place. But by then he had paid a costly price for running. It is far better to obey from the start. - (Handbook of Bible Application)
Here's Something to Ponder
- What is God wanting you to do?
- Will you respond as Jonah did?