I have been reading through the book of Jonah and reading several studies on the book as well. As I have been reading the book of Jonah over and over again, I am struck with new insights into this book as well as in my own life.
Read: Jonah 1:1-3
What is God’s command to Jonah?
Go to Nineveh and preach against it.
Why did God command this?
Nineveh was very far from God and had become very wicked. God was going to destroy Nineveh if they did not turn to Him.
A little history:
· Jonah lived in Gath-hepher.
· Nineveh is the capital of Assyria, and is a very powerful and well-fortified city.
· It is also a city plagued with a focus on idol-worship.
· In fact, the Ninevites worshipped the fish goddess Nanshe and Dagon the half man/half fish god.
· A prophet’s job is to deliver a message from God.
· Jonah’s job is to tell Nineveh they are going to be destroyed.
· This is the only time in the Bible when a prophet is told to go to a foreign nation to bring God’s message to a people. This is the only time Israel is directed to pursue the Gentiles. Prophets typically brought messages to those they lived in or around.So God has commanded Jonah to go to Nineveh. What was Jonah’s response?
He ran away! Not only did he run away from God, but he physically ran in the opposite direction! (I showed a map. Look it up. It's pretty funny how far in the opposite direction he runs.) He gets on a boat and heads toward Tarshish to flee from the Lord.
Note: Jonah is the only prophet in the Old Testament to refuse to follow God’s command. He is the only one who disobeys a direct instruction from God.
Can you run away from God? Can you hide where He cannot find you? NO!
Even though Jonah tried to escape God and God’s directive, he was never out of God’s sight.
Bible Drill: Psalm 139:7-8
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
If I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
I read in a Bible study that God had given Jonah the assignment of the ten tribes of northern Israel, but the focus of this book of the Bible is the prophecy he was to deliver to Nineveh which he does not deliver and downright disobeys God. This book gives us a much bigger picture of how God works with imperfect people. He gave Jonah a big job to do, but Jonah was the man in the field, the man assigned to the mission, the man God would go with wherever he needed to go.
Jonah is God’s prophet but he runs. Why? Was he feeling insecurity? Was he afraid that God would ultimately save the Ninevites and thereby discredit the prophecy he was about to deliver regarding the destruction of Nineveh? Did he simply harbor hatred for such a despicable group of people that he did not want to deliver a message that could save them? Was he sincerely afraid of these Ninevites and fear took hold of him?
We do not know for sure, but what we do know is that for a moment, he took his eyes off of God and he ran!
Is there a command that has God given to you?
Are you obeying that command or are you running from it?
Is America your Ninevah? Has God commanded you to stand up for Christ in the face of adversity?
Are you being like Jonah? Are you running from God’s command for you in your life?