Running from God; Jonah's disobedienc!
I have heard many lessons since childhood on Jonah, but not once did I hear the question "Why did Jonah run?"
The Lord sends Jonah to Nineveh
Jon 1:1-3 And the word of the Lord came to Jonah, the son of Amittai, saying, 2 Up! go to Nineveh, that great town, and let your voice come to it; for their evil-doing has come up before me. 3 And Jonah got up to go in flight to Tarshish, away from the Lord; and he went down to Joppa, and saw there a ship going to Tarshish: so he gave them the price of the journey and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish, away from the Lord.
The Lord sent Jonah to Nineveh to pronounce judgement, yet Jonah ran away.
Jonah disobeyed a direct command from God. what could motivate a person to directly disobey God?
God's word and to place their life in danger by so doing?
Let's see what the word says.
The Lord shows mercy to Nineveh:
Jon 3:9-10 Who may say that God will not be turned, changing his purpose and turning away from his burning wrath, so that destruction may not overtake us? 10 And God saw what they did, how they were turned from their evil way; and God's purpose was changed as to the evil which he said he would do to them, and he did it not.
Here we see the repentance of Nineveh and the mercy of God. God did not pour out on Nineveh the punishment they deserved. He took delight in their repentance and spared them. We still have no answer, so let us go to the next chapter of Jonah.
Jonah is swallowed by the fish and calls out to God:
Jon 2:1-2 Then Jonah made prayer to the Lord his God from the inside of the fish, and said, 2 In my trouble I was crying to the Lord, and he gave me an answer; out of the deepest underworld I sent up a cry, and you gave ear to my voice.
Jonah was disobedient and found himself in trouble. He cried out to the Lord and the Lord helped him, even though he got into trouble through his own disobedience. but the question remains. Why?
Jonah ran because of the anger in his heart toward Nineveh.:
He did not want God to show mercy to Nineveh.
Jon 4:1-2 But this seemed very wrong to Jonah, and he was angry. 2 And he made prayer to the Lord and said, O Lord, is this not what I said when I was still in my country? This is why I took care to go in flight to Tarshish: for I was certain that you were a loving God, full of pity, slow to be angry and great in mercy, and ready to be turned from your purpose of evil.
Jon 4:11 And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons not [yet old enough to] know their right hand from their left, and also many cattle [not accountable for sin]?
Here, we finally get the answer. Jonah ran because he knew if he warned Nineveh and they repented, that God, being a merciful God, full of compassion for man, would forgive them.
2Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
God is waiting for us to bring every disobedience before Him in repentance. He delights in a repentant heart.
Jonah's hardness of heart.
Have you ever been so hurt or offended that you hoped to see the punishment or the fall of someone? Have you ever felt that someone should not be able to repent, because that person did not deserve mercy, because of the awfulness of their sin? ?
Could it be rape, murder, torture, terrorism or even a spouse that has cheated on you? Maybe more than one of these things have been done to you. Have you perhaps lost a child to one of these heinous crimes, or to a drunken driver? There are so many terrible things going on around us and even sometimes in our own lives. We find ourselves moving away from the word and getting stuck in the way we are feeling, instead of acting on His word.
Jonah wanted Nineveh to be punished for their sins. Yet He did not consider that his own hardness of heart caused he himself to act in disobedience.
Is this same hardness of heart causing you to be stagnant, holding you back and stealing your blessing and joy?
Allow yourself to be set free today. Instead of pain and anger and revenge, allow God into your pain, into your circumstance. Invite God to take your heart and work inside of you to bring healing. Let God change your anger to mercy, Allow the Lord to save and deliver you from what you are going through.
If you know God is a God of grace and mercy, but also of judgement, then you understand that there is balance in the very nature of God himself. If he is a God of judgement, then by that very nature should mercy also be found.
My friend, clean out the hidden places of your heart. Ask as David asked in Psalm 51:10, "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me".
If you wish to have a part in that mercy, sow mercy into the lives of the undeserving, for by the same measure that you mete out judgement, the same will be to you.
Freely give out mercy, forgiveness, understanding, compassion and love to EVERYone who crosses your life's path.
Luke 6:38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.
What have we learned from Jonah?
- Do not run from God. Obey His word no matter how you feel about it.
- Call on the Lord when you are in trouble. Even if it is your own fault, God will help you.
- God is merciful to those who repent and turn from their sins.
- The Lord will protect the helpless. (like the 120 000 innocent in Nineveh).
- God has His own way of getting us back on track.
- We must be alert as to our heart's condition, keeping it clean of anger and resentment.
- Be careful to sow what you want to reap.