The Lord gave this message to Jonah son of Amittai: “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.” But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the Lord. He went down to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish. He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping to escape from the Lord by sailing to Tarshish. – Jonah 1:1-3 (NLT)
“I’m going this way. I’m sure we can get through.” The signs warned the road was closed but I reasoned there had to be some way to get through to the other side without taking the longer detour.
I was wrong. I snaked along a path made by the utility trucks only to reach a pit where the road had once been. I was left with only one option—go in reverse to get out of the construction zone.
I’ve found myself in many predicaments due to my impatience. My willful spirit has left me in more than one quandary. If I were truly honest, I’d tell you my blatant disobedience has cause me some deep heart ache.
Enter Jonah. There are some Bible Characters I relate to better than others. That Proverbs 31 Woman sort of annoys me—this lady that has it all together sets the bar too high. I can relate to the impulsive, hot head, Peter. I can relate to Jonah as well. Maybe the only thing you remember about Jonah is his stay in the whale’s belly—that is one piece of the story but there is so much more.
God certainly got Jonah’s attention—the message Jonah received wasn’t a subtle, read between the line sort of message. It was a direct command—“Go to Nineveh.” Following that command is the little word that gets us all in trouble “…but…” Scripture doesn’t whitewash Jonah’s intentions. You may try to give him the benefit of the doubt—perhaps Jonah misunderstood God’s command. Maybe Jonah was confused.
Nope. Jonah was trying to get away from God.
Listening to God Speak
I shared last week; I have not heard God’s audible voice telling me to do, or not to do something. Maybe You have. I have heard God speak through His Word. I will admit that sometimes I run the opposite way when read things like:
- Love your enemies (Matthew 5:43-48)
- Don’t worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6:25-34)
- Rejoice always and pray about everything (Philippians 4:4-8)
You get the idea.
It’s easy to think about Jonah’s story in human terms. Jonah disobeyed and got in trouble—bad Jonah! Why is God so dramatic—being swallowed by a whale is a good attention grabber! Why does God take obedience and disobedience so seriously? Abandon your notions of “good and bad”. Christ’s sacrifice makes the believer righteous in God’s eyes— because of Christ’s sacrifice, the believer’s sin is not counted against him or her.
God is trying to get your attention. Adjust your view. How does disobedience toward God look to others? What does my disobedience tell the non-believer about my Heavenly Father? Watch as this story of disobedience unfolds with new eyes—and see why God takes obedience so seriously.
Father, please help me see my disobedience through Your eyes. Teach me to rest confidently in Your salvation, but to strive to obey as a testimony to Your greatness, love and grace. Let others see Your love, provision and joy in my life—let my life be an attention-getting device to bring glory to You.