1 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.” 3 But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.4 But the Lord sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship was about to be broken up.5 Then the mariners were afraid; and every man cried out to his god, and threw the cargo that was in the ship into the sea, to lighten the load.[a] But Jonah had gone down into the lowest parts of the ship, had lain down, and was fast asleep.6 So the captain came to him, and said to him, “What do you mean, sleeper? Arise, call on your God; perhaps your God will consider us, so that we may not perish.”
Have you ever wanted to run away? I think there are times in all of our lives when we just wanted to run away, from a problem or a situation or a person. We want to escape our situation so we run in an attempt to get way. But what happens when the one you are trying to get away from is God? The bible is full of people who ran away from God: Adam and Eve in the garden after disobeying God ran away and hid from his presence. Moses ran away from his God call after he killed an Egyptian soldier. The disciples ran away from the Garden of Gethsemane and abandoned their Lord. Jonah attempt to run away from God’s calling, it’s a story of disobedience, problems and prayer. Yet most of all it’s a story about second chances and returning to God. You see there are several realities we need to remember:
1. God still speaks inviting us to join Him in His work.
V. 1a “Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai,”
Jonah means dove, which signifies a ’messenger’, and we’re told that he is the Son of Ammitai which means truth, Son of truth. He is a messenger of truth. Whose truth? God’s truth. That was his job as a prophet of God, to listen to the word of God and then communicate it to the people. But instead of obeying, instead of doing what God called him to do, Jonah ran away.
2. We’re not always going to like what God tells us to do.
V. 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.”
This is the last place on earth that Jonah thought God would send him; why would God send Jonah to preach to his enemies? Could not God have asked Jonah to do something he wanted to do? The Bible says that he went down to Joppa. He found a ship and he bought a ticket. This was a calculated decision, Jonah made a choice; when God speaks we all have a choice, a decision to make, to run to Him or away from Him. The Bible says Jonah, “found a ship.” Sometimes we justify our actions by saying, “But I found an open door.” It is a dangerous thing to try to justify our actions simply because things seem to fall into place. The truth is, anytime we want to run away from God, we’re going to be able to find a ship heading in that direction.
3. Running away from God always leads downhill.
Verse 3 “But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it”
Any path that leads you away from God is downhill. We want to justify our direction by saying but I’m improving my life, look how happy I am! Things are going great, but it is downhill nevertheless. If you are headed for Tarshish when God has called to you go to Nineveh, then you’re sailing into a storm, life apart from God always gets rough!
4. Running from God involves a wakeup call.
Are you running from God? What is your Ninevah? Has God called you to do something and you won’t answer his call? Has God asked you to witness to someone you don’t want to witness to? Are you running from something that you know God wants you to do? What boat are you on, and what are you doing on that boat? Jonah was on the wrong boat heading in the wrong direction and he was oblivious, he was sleeping his time away. But that’s when he got the wakeup call, a call to a new direction, a direction of obedience. God used the captain of the ship to get Jonah’s attention with the works “Arise call on your God” it was a call to get alone with God. Are you in the hold of the wrong ship, experiencing the storm of your own decisions? Listen to the captain. WAKE UP! Is it time to get alone with God?