I want to deal with a very common problem: people are running away to avoid facing situations that they need to deal with. More and more people would rather run away than deal with their problems. Some run from paying bills, from a certain sin, from healing a broken relationship, from their marriage, and many pastors run away from dealing with problems with people. The Bible talks about a very fast runner whose name is Jonah. Jonah 1:3, “But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD” (KJV). The New International Version reads, “But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish.” The Living Bible reads, “But Jonah was afraid to go and ran away from the Lord.” Why did Jonah run? The popular reasons are that he was full of prejudice, he had no patience, he wanted revenge and not mercy, or that he was a selfish coward. Jonah was none of these. Jonah ran was because he knew that God was full of compassion, gracious, merciful, and kind. Jonah didn’t want God to spare Nineveh because he knew prophetically that one day Nineveh would destroy Israel and lead them captive into Assyria. A lot of people think like Jonah, that God should judge others with wrath rather than show mercy. Jonah would have rather lost his prophetic calling and left the area than to face the situation God had called him to deal with. The name Jonah means “a dove” (figurative of the anointing). There is always a price to pay when you give up on the thing God has asked you to do. People like Jonah who try to escape obedience will only run into worse situations.
Jonah 1:1-3… Jonah was commissioned by God to deal with the wicked situation in Nineveh. Nineveh’s wickedness had come up before the Lord. God knows about your sin as well, but look out when it comes up before Him. There is a time when God says, “Enough is enough.” When God wants to deal with your sin, stay put and get it over with. But Jonah decided to run, and he found a ship that was ready to take him to Joppa. From Joppa, Jonah would be able to get to Tarshish. The devil always has a ship ready. Jonah paid the fare. A lot of folks are able to find money to pay for a wrong thing. The first thing Jonah ran into was to a storm (v. 4). The Lord sent a wind (a tempest). That tempest was strong enough to shatter the ship. A tempest today might be when the thing you thought was secure, maybe your job, family, church, or marriage, begins to fall apart.
Jonah 1:5-7… Jonah was still running, and this time he ran into sleep. This is often the reaction to running away from the situation God wants to deal with. But, just as Jonah was found out, you will be found out. You can’t run from the presence of God (Psalm 139:7).
Jonah 1:8-14… Jonah ran again, into more trouble. This time he ran into self-punishment. “Get rid of me and you will get rid of your problem. Throw me overboard.” Many problems come into your family because you ran away from the dealings of God. Many problems come into the church because of one man’s disobedience. Jonah took the blame for the suffering that others were going through. So he should have. The men of the ship tried very hard to solve the problem, but they could not. So Jonah was tossed overboard and ran into a problem that was worse than he had before.
(To be continued…)
Pastor George Belobaba
Copyright © 2012 by Scripture Nuggets Ministries
All rights reserved