Do you run from God?
Do you head in the opposite direction when God talks to you and needs you?
Do you need a Jonah attitude adjustment?
Jonah’s fear and pride cause him to run from God. He doesn’t want to go to Nineveh to preach repentance to the people as God has commanded, because he feels they are his enemies, and he is convinced God will not carry out his threat to destroy the city. Instead, he boards a ship for Tarshish, which is in the opposite direction.
Soon, a raging storm causes the crew to cast lots and determine that Jonah is the problem. They throw him overboard, and he is swallowed by a great fish, perhaps a whale. While in its belly, Jonah repents of his sin to God, and the fish vomits him up on dry land.
Jonah then makes the 500-mile trip to Nineveh and leads the city in a great revival. But the prophet is displeased and he pouts. Instead of being thankful when Nineveh repents. God then teaches him another lesson about being merciful.
What Lessons Does Jonah Teach Us?
What are lessons you and I can learn from the Jonah story?
The main lesson is we cannot hide from God. What he wishes to accomplish through us will come to pass, despite anything we do.
Ephesians 2:10 reminds us that God has plans for us and will see to it that we conform to those plans. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
How much easier it would be if we, unlike Jonah, would submit to him without delay! But if we’re honest with ourselves, we have to admit that is often not the case, and we need to return to him.
How Do We Annoy and Disobey God?
We often ignore God's Word. Perhaps we ignore the word that speaks to our heart because we don't like what he says or commands.
Or, we don't love God’s Word as we should. God's Word is inspired by the Holy Spirit to help us.
Jonah knew exactly what God required. "However," instead of listening, he decided to disobey.
We have come to believe that God is willing to bargain with us over his commands, haven't we. We tend to think he compromise on his expectations. But God does not negotiate his commands. Period!
We Sometimes Hide Our Sin
Have you ever tried to hide a sin? I have. Maybe you did it years ago, but you never confessed it or tried to apologize for it. Instead, you hoped to sweep it under the rug or hide it in the closet.
Jonah kept a sin from his past deep in his heart. He was prejudiced against the Assyrians. But this hidden sin had come back to haunt him. Now it became the excuse for his rebellion against God.
As numbers 32:23 suggests: "Be sure your sin will find you out." If we harbor a hidden sin, this indicates that we need to repent and fix our relationship with God.
We Fail to Spread the Word
Jonah was glad to speak for God to the good people – but refused to speak to those that appeared to need the Word of God the most.
Reflecting on Jonah’s hesitation, Charles Spurgeon suggests: "We think that we do well to be angry with the rebellious, and so we prove to ourselves to be more like Jonah than Jesus."
Jonah had a calling from God, but he rejected it. Consider how we sometimes run from our God-given assignment.
What is your Tarshish, my Tarshish? It's the place we have gone to that is the opposite of God's will for our life.
There's No Escaping God's Will
We can run, but we cannot hide from God. We need to ask ourselves what has God called us to do? What has God given us a passion about? Where are we supposed to do it? When should we do it?
God wants us back every time we go in the opposite direction. But he requires us to act. We must take a step toward him, to have genuine repentance and to obey him.
Max Lucado writes: "If there are 1,000 steps between you and God, God will take 999 of them and leave the last one for you."
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