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Eternity 36 - Jonah Flees From God

Jonah 1:1-3 ASV Now the word of Jehovah came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, (2) Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. (3) But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of Jehovah; and he went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of Jehovah.

Jonah ministered from about 800BC to 780BC during the reign of Jeroboam II in the Northern Kingdom of Israel and was a prophet who was popular and generally prophesied victory. Assyria, with its capital Nineveh was the national enemy, noted for its cruelty and depravity. So Jonah being sent to Nineveh was like sending Billy Graham to Baghdad! It was, in human terms, a 'suicide mission". Yet this is NOT the reason that Jonah fled from God.

His reason is given out of his own mouth after the completion of his mission:
Jonah 3:10-4:3 ASV And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil which he said he would do unto them; and he did it not. (4:1) But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. (2) And he prayed unto Jehovah, and said, I pray thee, O Jehovah, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I hasted to flee unto Tarshish; for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and abundant in lovingkindness, and repentest thee of the evil. (3) Therefore now, O Jehovah, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.

Jonah was "fleeing from the presence of the Lord". Why? Because God was going to be merciful to the Assyrians!

Jonah knew what was going to happen if he prophesied. He would prophesy the doom of the city, the people would repent - and then God would relent. The prophecy would fall flat because God was merciful.

God would make Jonah look a fool! And Jonah did not want to look a fool. Jonah was scared of losing his reputation, of appearing dumb, of getting bad press back home in Israel.

Joppa, where Jonah went to flee from God, later became a key missionary city, where Peter raised Dorcas to life, and where he had the vision that led to the salvation of the Gentiles. Jonah ran from God - straight into missionary service!

Jonah ran from God's mercy and kindness to the Gentiles - and ended up causing a city-wide revival in just 24 hours! (Jonah 3:4,5)

But Jonah did not want this revival - he wanted his own comfort and reputation, he wanted comfort for Jonah more than the salvation of a great and wicked city.

Do you have call of God on your life that you are running away from? Are you more interested in your own comfort than the salvation of the heathen ? Then watch out - because a storm is coming! More on that tomorrow!


John Edmiston


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