The word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me.” But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. The Lord hurled a great wind on the sea and there was a great storm on the sea so that the ship was about to break up.
Jonah was a prophet of God who was called to a wicked people to proclaim God’s judgment. But, instead of heading the call and being obedient he rebels and runs the opposite direction. Perhaps he was thinking he would just get out of dodge and go live a different life somewhere else. Ever wonder why he would rebel like that? Why run from doing the very thing God had called him to do?
In Jonah chapter 4 he says why he rebelled – because he knew God would be loving and compassionate. He had a feeling God would forgive and redeem them. So, instead of giving them the chance to change he decided he would just run away. No way was he going to give such an evil people a chance to come to God. He would rather die than see them change!
Where do you see yourself in this story? It is easy for us to say that’s messed up – no way would I ever treat someone like that or run away from God like that! But, haven’t there been times when we rebelled against God because our agenda wasn’t being met, God wasn’t doing what we wanted so we took things into our own hands. Has there ever been a time when we rebelled because God wasn’t serving our agenda?
What about those times when God asks you to love your neighbor and your refuse for (fill in the blank)? Jonah had a “us vs. them” attitude. They have killed and butchered us for too long, it is time for them to suffer. This wasn’t an attitude of love but one of anger, bitterness, and vengeance.
The amazing thing – despite the rebellious heart and attitude – God still pursued him. The storm was one of mercy. God cared about him too much to leave him in his rebellion. Know today, that even in your rebellion God, in His mercy, is pursuing you and ready to redeem you too.
Pastor Matt Huff leads Portland Central Nazarene Church. He loves being in ministry and seeing lives transformed by the power of Christ.