Now this message from the LORD came to Amittai’s son Jonah: 2 “Get up and go to Nineveh, that great city! Then cry out in protest against it, because their evil has come to my attention.” 3 But Jonah got up and fled from the LORD to Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, secured passage on a ship bound for Tarshish, paid the fare, and boarded, intending to go with the mariners to Tarshish to escape from the LORD.
So they picked up Jonah and tossed him into the sea, and the sea stopped raging. 16 Then the men feared the LORD greatly, offered a sacrifice to the LORD, and made vows.
I want to start off by giving some background information about the prophet Jonah. He prophesied during the reign of Jeroboam II, the king of Israel between 793-753. Jonah may have even been one of the members of the company of prophets mentioned with connection to Elisha’s ministry in 2 Kings 2:3.
God told Jonah to preach to Nineveh, the most important city in Assyria, a rising world power at that time. Jonah did not speak much about the cities wickedness, but the prophet Nahum did. Nahum said it had evil plots against God (Nahum 1:9), exploitation of the helpless (Nahum 2:12), and idolatry and prostitution (Nahum 3:4). So knowing some of this background, we know this was a pretty bad city. God told Jonah to go to this city and tell them that they were doing wickedness in the eyes of the Lord. He was to tell them to repent and turn back to our Heavenly Father. Since Jonah grew up hating the city, its people, and their government, he did not want to do it. He did not want these people to be given God’s mercy and was scared that they would repent (Jonah 4:2-3). Jonah’s “attitude” as a representative of God was backwards. Instead of sharing His love and mercy, he tried to keep it to himself.
So Jonah did what most people would try to do and run away from his responsibilities. Jonah’s stubbornness ended up almost costing the life of the pagan sailors and everyone on the ship with him. Jonah knew that once he was thrown off the ship the weather would calm. Isn’t that funny how when we do what God wanted us to do in the first place how everything calms and works like it is supposed to? It would have been ten times easier to listen to God to begin with and less stressful. However, we tend to chose the path that we want out of stubbornness. Like Jonah learned, there is no out running God!
As Christians we have consequences for not obeying what God commands of us. Our solution is simple though, with a humble and sincere heart, repent to the Lord and seek forgiveness. It is never too late to seek God and allow Him to change your circumstances. Even though Jonah disobeyed God, God used the situation to show the pagan sailors His power. They ended up making a vow to follow only Him. Isn’t this an amazing thing? He turned the situation into a living testimony.
I have a similar testimony with my walk with Christ. A year before I went to seminary school the Lord put it in my heart to go. I kicked, moaned and made a million excuses why I did not want to go. I asked for a sign and the Lord gave me two. This battle within myself went on for almost a year, it came to the point where I was scared God was going to strike me down with lightning. I guess we all have a little bit of Jonah in us whether we want to admit it or not. On my final sign the Lord gave me, I started seminary school. I enjoyed it so much, I could not stop reading my coursework and I could not put my bible down. I ended up knocking out two years of school in 9 ½ months with a 3.514 GPA. You see, God knew I would excell in seminary school and I would be able to share His word with others even though I did not. I could not see it within myself. My family and friends even laughed when I told them I was going into seminary school to begin with. Now the people who laughed see the change God had in my life. I went from a mean Marine Staff Sergeant to a loving father, husband, and minister. God also gave me another amazing testimony in my toolbox to be able to help other people with the same struggle I went through in ministry.
To submit and obey God is the hardest thing anyone can do. This takes a lot of faith! I know this from first hand now and Jonah had to learn the same lesson. By not obeying God I was not showing my full trust in His plans for my life. So I urge everyone reading this message today to let go of the foolish side of Jonah in you. Fully submit to God because you never know what plans He has for you. You may even save a soul and not even know you’re doing it. Let go of your stubbornness and accept the Holy Spirit in your life. I pray that everyone has a blessed day today!