WHEN JONAH RUNS FROM GOD, THE ALMIGHTY INTERVENES IN AN AMAZING WAY
“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence?” — Psalm 139:7
Can we ever run from God? Is He not aware of our every move? Will He let us run from Him? The omnipotent, omniscient God… who directs and controls the universe… will not allow us, His children, to flee from His presence. He will seek us out because of His unending love and concern for us. He will never let us go.
“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight.” — Hebrews 4:13
Our Lord knows all that lies hidden in our hearts. And yet He still loves us. If we find ourselves running from God, we need always check our motives. Why are we running from Him? Perhaps He is convicting our hearts of a certain sin. Or maybe He is calling us to a task we would rather not do. Or He may be asking us to forgive the unforgivable. Whatever our cause for rebellion, the One who loves us more than we can ever know will search us out and draw us back to Him.
“Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before Me.” — Jonah 1:2
We see in the Old Testament that Jonah, a prophet of the Most High God, chooses to run from God. He had called Jonah to preach repentance to the decadent and immoral city of Nineveh. Why did Jonah run? It was a prideful reason… he did not believe the Ninevites were worthy of God’s mercy. If the prophet’s preaching were to lead them to conviction, and the people were to repent and turn to God, then the Lord would spare them… as He promises in His Word. Jonah believed the Ninevites were too evil to be saved. God knew that Jonah would have a change of heart… yet it might mean He would need to intervene in a big way.
Jonah flees from the Lord and boards a ship heading for Tarshish, in the opposite direction from Nineveh. God sends a violent storm upon the sea that begins battering the ship. The sailors cry out to their god to no avail. When the ship is in danger of sinking, the sailors cast lots to see who among them is responsible. When the lot falls to Jonah, they question him.
“I am a Hebrew and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” — Jonah 1:9
Jonah asks the captain to throw him overboard for he knows that this will cause the storm to subside. Fearing for their lives, the sailors toss him into the raging sea. Immediately, the sea becomes calm. In His great mercy, the Lord brings along a large fish who proceeds to swallow up Jonah.
“For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” — Matthew 12:40
Jonah’s experience is more than just a story, for all Scripture is God-breathed and Spirit inspired. Jesus shares the story of Jonah in His preaching to the Pharisees. He uses Jonah as an example of His own impending death and resurrection. He gives credence to the truth and validity of Scripture and to the experience of this Old Testament prophet. Our God is the God of the impossible. Nothing is too difficult for Him.
“What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’” — Jonah 2:9
Jonah prays from within the great fish to the Lord, repenting of his rebellion. He had run from the Lord his God and abandoned His calling. God, in His great mercy, offers Jonah a second chance, as He so often does for us. The huge fish coughs up Jonah onto dry land. Jonah immediately sets out for Nineveh to preach repentance. Upon hearing Jonah’s divinely inspired words, the entire city repents and turns to God.
We are the objects of God’s love. He promises in His Word that we can never escape from Him. Nothing can ever separate us from His love. We may believe we are running from God… yet He is forever with us. His everlasting love and mercy draws us back to Him. Like Jonah, we repent and return. We are caught up in the wonder of His grace.