But Jonah rose 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, away from the presence of the LORD. (Jonah 1:3 ESV)
God told Jonah to go to the city of Nineveh and prophecy that His wrath was about to fall because of their great sins. And Jonah fled from the presence of God. Or so he thought. Now you would think that a prophet of the Most High God would know that you cannot flee from His presence, but Jonah tried. I think what is so sad about this is the reason Jonah ran away. He feared that the people of the city would repent of their sin and God would turn aside His anger! Jonah wanted Nineveh to burn.
And he prayed to the LORD and said, “O LORD, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” (Jonah 4:2-3 ESV)
While it doesn’t say why, Jonah’s hatred against this city was so great that when God did spare the repentant people Jonah begged for God to take his life. That’s intense.
Have you ever had God call you to something that you really didn’t want to do? Sometimes He wants us to step out of our comfort zone. He has good reasons for this. Jonah needed to learn a lesson on love and forgiveness, and God used Nineveh as that lesson. We never hear much about Jonah after this but I have to wonder if he had changed his heart and learned to forgive would Jonah have become a more important prophet? We’ll never know.
Don’t let your usefulness to the Kingdom get squashed by your reluctance to learn what God has for you. Don’t be a Jonah.
© 2019 Tim Lehmann. All rights reserved.
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