“The Lord gave this message to Jonah son of Amittai: 2 “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.” 3 But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the Lord. He went down to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish. He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping to escape from the Lord by sailing to Tarshish.
- Disobedience is always a decision in the wrong direction
“But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the Lord.” Instead of being thankful and setting out to serve, Jonah decided to run. Are you fleeing from the presence of the Lord, refusing to serve Him in the arena that you know He has called you to? It is clear that Jonah made a conscious choice to refuse the call of God. He let his feelings lead him instead of the Father, he let his mind and thoughts become his master. The result is always the same when you give self-choice control over your life instead of God’s commands. Heeding self always heads you in the opposite direction from God. Are you opposing God and heading in the opposite direction?
- When you decide to disobey there is always tempting transportation.
“He went down to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish.” Jonah went down to Joppa and found a ship that could carry him far away from the call of God. Next, he bought a ticket, here we see another self-choice, a calculated decision of disobedience. When we decide to disobey there will always be some ship, conveniently moored close by, ready to carry you far from the commands of God. It’s a ship that will never be very hard to find or to full to take you on, but you will have to buy in to get on board. There will always be a cost to come aboard, but Jonah gladly paid the price of the ticket, because he believed the fair of disobedience would be easier than that of the Fathers. You may want to disagree with this but falling away from God involves follow through, it’s a calculated choice. We make plans to do wrong and then we follow through on our plans, Jonah knew where and what God had called him to, yet he deliberately decided to go his own way. It says that he “found a ship.” How often do we try to justify our actions by saying, “but I found an open door.” Don’t be surprised when you try to flee the presence of God and at first things seem to fall into place. If you found the ship be careful, and if everything is falling into place because you are doing all the work and God is not involved you are heading for hurt. We love it when the pieces of the puzzle fall into place, but it’s a dangerous thing to try to justify your actions simply because things seem to fit together. The truth is anytime you desire to run away from obeying God you can count on one certainty, you will find tempting transportation.
- Disobedience is always downward
“He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping to escape from the Lord by sailing to Tarshish.” Any path that leads you away from God is downhill. Jonah ran from what he knew was right straight into ruin. So often people who are doing what they know is wrong try to justify it by saying, they are improving their lives, that they deserve to be happy. But happiness is never found through hoping over the fence and running from the Father. The road of disobedience is always downward, it’s a path that leads to pain not pleasure. Fleeing from the presence of the Father means trading peace for problems. Jonah’s downward digression is clearly seen in the New King James, where it says, he went down to Joppa (v. 3a), he went down into the ship (v. 3b), and he went down in sleep (v. 5). As a pastor I have seen many who trade a life of serving God for a life of sin, yet seek to justify it by saying, “But look how happy I am! Things are going great!” Yet the ship that seems steady and secure and even sails on time is still sailing into a storm. Satisfaction is never found in sin, only in saying yes to the Savior. When you run from God you never get where you are going, instead you get grief and you always pay your own fare. But when you go God’s way you not only get there but He pays the fare. Which way are you running today, are you running to obey or to get away? Are you running toward a righteous life or one of ruin?