On the Run
The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: Go to the great city
of Nineveh and preach against it, because of its wickedness has come up
before me. But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish.
Jonah was on the run. He was on the run in four different directions.
However, these directions were not north, south, east or west. Jonah
ran AWAY from God. Jonah ran TO God. Jonah ran WITH God. And Jonah ran
When God commands Jonah to go to Nineveh, Jonah protests and runs in the opposite direction AWAY from God to Tarshish.
Jonah learned a lesson after he was swallowed by the great fish. Then he runs TO God.
While Jonah was obeying God he was on one accord WITH God.
After Jonah had done what he was commanded to do, he turned AGAINST God by complaining about the salvation of the Ninevites.
In what direction are you running today? AWAY from God? TO God? WITH God? or AGAINST God?
Going in the Opposite Direction
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. (Jonah 1:1-3a)
Has God called you to do something; yet you are going in the opposite
direction? Learn the lesson that Jonah learned when God sent him to
Nineveh. Instead of going where he had been commanded to go, Jonah went
in the opposite direction while ignoring God's command.
If you are a modern day Jonah, know that God will not ignore what He
has called you to do. God will not forget what He has told you to do.
God will not sweep what He has told you to do under the rug. God WILL
have the last word!
It is definitely wise to do what God tells you to do the first time
unless you enjoy being thrown overboard and ending up in the belly of a
great fish. Ultimately you will do what God called you to do anyway.
So, why not spare yourself from being vomited up on dry land.
Away From the Presence of the Lord
But Jonah set out to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. (Jonah 1:3)
God commands us to do certain things and for various reasons we go in
the opposite direction away from His instructions and away from His
presence. Let's learn a great lesson from Jonah who did exactly that.
word of the Lord came to Jonah saying, "Go at once to Ninevah and cry
out against it." Jonah heard God. Jonah understood God. But Jonah went
in the opposite direction. Jonah went down to Joppa and found a
ship going to Tarshish so he paid his fare and went on board, to go
with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord.
how easy it was for Jonah to go away from the presence of the Lord. (1)
A ship just happened to be there at the right time for Jonah. (2) The
ship just happened to be going in the opposite direction. (3) The ship
just happened to have room on board for Jonah. (4) Jonah just happened
to have enough money on him for his fare. See how easy it was for Jonah
to go away from the presence of God.
Sometimes it is easier to
go away from the presence of God than to do the assignment He has given
you. Keep in mind that it might be earlier at the time, but God will
not give up on you. Like Jonah, he will cause you to be willing to
return to him. Be spared from having to go into the belly of the big
fish or something worse. Go at once and do what God has commanded.
Just the Opposite
Lord said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the
Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by." Elijah went out and stood at
the mouth of the cave. (I Kings 19:11, 13). The word of the Lord came
to the Jonah, "Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against
it." But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish (in
the opposite direction). (Jonah 1:1-3)
Have you ever told a
child to do something, and the child did just the opposite? Have you
intentionally done just the opposite of what you were supposed to do?
It is sin when you do just the opposite of what God says.
Bible, two prominent cases stand out among those who did just the
opposite of what God said. And both cases involved God's own prophets.
God told Elijah to go out and stand on top of the mountain. Elijah did
just the opposite by standing at the mouth of the cave. Jonah was told
to go to Nineveh. He went in the opposite direction to Tarshish.
not be deceived. God cannot be mocked (Galatians 6:7). You might think
you are fooling God, but God knows all. He did not forget what He told
you to do. Your doing just the opposite will bring destruction to your
own life. Elijah's ministry ended shortly afterward because he did just
the opposite of what he was told to do. Jonah ended up in the belly of
a great fish before he came to his senses and went to Nineveh as he
originally had been instructed.
When we do the opposite, bad
things happen and we still have to end up doing what God told us to do.
It is so much more rewarding to do what we are supposed to do the first
Disobedience Affects Others
took Jonah and threw him overboard and the raging sea grew calm. (Jonah
When Jonah was
commanded by God to go to Nineveh to save God's people, he quickly boarded a
ship going in the opposite direction. He and the others on board experienced
great hardship because of Jonah's disobedience. Jonah was finally thrown
overboard where he was swallowed by a great fish. The sea became calm because
the disobedient man was being dealt with. How many people are in danger because
of your disobedience?
Leaders who work in the kingdom of God must be
extremely careful to be obedient to God because what they do affect others in
spiritual and natural ways. Leaders must be good witnesses for God if they are
to lead others to the saving power of Jesus Christ.
God wants us to
have clean hands and a pure heart as we work in His kingdom. God prefers that
we don't end up in the belly of a great fish. However, we stand the chance of
being swallowed like Jonah, and those around us might experience calamity if we
are not obedient.
Let's learn an important lesson from Jonah. It is
better to obey God than to experience God's wrath.
Spiritual Road Blocks
the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in
the belly of the fish three days and three nights. (Jonah 1:17)
supernaturally blocked Jonah's way so that Jonah would repent and obey
God's call. Jonah had tried to run in the opposite direction of where
God wanted him to go. Jonah did not want to preach the Word of God to a
pagan nation. Jonah tried to run from God's call by going to sea; but
God caused a storm to rise up, and Jonah was thrown overboard, only to
be swallowed by a great fish.
God may not cause you to be
swallowed by a great fish if you refuse to obey His commandments, but
you may find yourself in a series of adverse situations that have been
designed by God to get you back on the path He wants you to follow.
Doors may be shut, jobs may end, finances may dry up, and relationships
may go sour as part of God's way of getting you to come to your senses.
That's what happened to the prodigal son in Luke 15:17. God wants to
lead us all back to His purpose for our lives. Avoid the supernatural
road blocks by obeying God the first time.
God's Way is Best
But the Lord provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights. (Jonah 1:17)
is to our advantage to follow God's orders. When God gives you a dream,
a vision or a direct word, you are not to directly oppose the order and
go in the opposite direction as Jonah did. When Jonah ran from the
presence of God, his life immediately started going downhill: down to
Tarshish, down into the ship, down into the sea, and down into the
belly of the great fish. God will still provide grace for us, but God
is not obligated to protect us when we remove ourselves from under the
umbrella of God's safety. Make sure you are always in God's presence,
and when God gives you an order, it is best to follow it instead of
going in the opposite direction. Resolve today to rid yourself of the
Caring For Things More Than For People
But the Lord said, "You have been concerned about this vine. But
Nineveh had more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who
cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well.
Some of us have the same problem Jonah had. What was that? Jonah cared more for things than he cared for people. Let me explain.
God sent Jonah to Nineveh to preach salvation to the Ninevites because
they were so wicked. Instead, Jonah went in the opposite direction
until he ended up in the belly of a great fish. After Jonah prayed, the
fish vomited him up on land and he ran to Nineveh to do what God had
told him to do initially. When Jonah told the Ninevites they would be
destroyed in forty days, they immediately repented and were spared.
Jonah became angry and went outside the city to see if God was going to
destroy Nineveh. But He didn't. Instead, God provided a tall vine to
shade Jonah as he waited. Then God provided a worm to eat up the vine.
Jonah continued to be angry. Then God asked
Jonah, "Do you have a right to be angry about the vine? (Jonah 4:9) God
reminded Jonah that he cared more for the vine than he did for the
120,000 people in Nineveh.
If you have a Jonah syndrome where you care more for things than for
people, expect to be rebuked and taught a lesson by God as well.
Not Just Another Fish Story
the Lord said, "You have been concerned about this vine, though you did
not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight.
But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who
cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well.
Should I not be concerned about that great city?" (Jonah 4:10-11)
Book of Jonah is more than just another fish story. Almost everyone
knows the fish part of the story of Jonah, but there is more. Even some
Christians don't focus on the real meaning of the Book of Jonah. Most
people tell the story of a disobedient prophet who goes in the opposite
direction from where God sends him. He gets thrown overboard and falls
into the belly of a big fish (the book never says whale). Jonah prayed,
was released and did preach to the pagans at Nineveh. The entire city
repented, and Jonah sulked in anger because Nineveh escaped God's
punishment. Most people end their story there. Let's continue for the
real meaning of the story.
Jonah should have been
rejoicing over the salvation of Nineveh; yet he was so angry he had to
sit down. To teach Jonah a lesson, God raised up a plant to shade him
from the sun, then allowed a worm to eat it. A hot wind from the east
added to Jonah's misery, and he whined and he complained about the
missing plant. Then God reminded Jonah that He was a God of compassion
who had the right to love and forgive the pagan people of Nineveh or
any other people who turned to Him in obedience and faith. Jonah had
been fretting about a plant, while God was concerned about people. God
had a more important matter in mind: the salvation of people.
then what is the real meaning of the Book of Jonah? The Book of Jonah
is more than just another fish story. It is a beautiful account of
God's love, mercy and compassion for ALL people.