Jonah 1:1–3 (NKJV)
1:1 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.” 3 But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.
Jonah was one of the most reluctant prophets in the Old Testament. God called him to go and prophesy to Ninevah, which was a little over 500 miles away, but instead Jonah jumped in a ship to go to Tarshish, which was 2500 miles away. Talk about running from an assignment! It is not clear from this initial passage in the book whether Jonah was reluctant to prophesy in general, or whether he just had a grudge against Ninevah. Either way, he decided he would not obey the Lord and would rather run away about as far as he could from the assignment.
We all know the rest of the story. We will discuss in the days following, but Jonah ran from God and found a real mess. Storm, shipwreck, capture by a great fish, vomit, and then prophet anyway. Have you ever run from a call or an assignment that was possibly from God and lived to regret it? I have, and it was not quite the downward spiral and miraculous recovery that Jonah faced, but it did cause me great regret. Don’t run away when God calls. Instead run to God and the assignment, for God will bless and protect.
Graphics from a blog by Jeremy Myers, “Jonah 1:3 –Slapping God in the Face,” from the blog One Verse.