Run from God...are you kidding?
What a silly man Jonah is...or is he?
I am intrigued because I am convinced that Jonah knew the character of God quite well. Perhaps better than most in scripture. I'm not so sure that Jonah didn't intend to escape from the presence of God, but instead, he was running from the will of God. He knew well the mercy and forgiveness of God and he did not want this grace to be extended to such a barbaric people such as the Ninevites. But that's not all...
One of the "fellow prophets", a contemporary of Jonah, was Hosea. This is what Hosea spoke to the people of Israel:
- "They will not return to the land of Egypt; But Assyria—he will be their king Because they refused to return to Me. The sword will whirl against their cities, And will demolish their gate bars And consume them because of their counsels." (Hosea 11:5-6)
So think about it. Jonah and Hosea were fellow prophets who lived during the same time, in the same region of the Northern Kingdom, each speaking to the people of Israel. As such, they were well aware of what the other was declaring on behalf of the God they served. Therefore, Jonah likely knew, from the prophesy of Hosea, that Assyria would "demolish" and "consume" the people of Israel. And yet, these were the very people God told Jonah to go and "call them to repentance".
This is what Jonah knew:
- God is a God of mercy and grace. When people (of any vile nature) come to Him with a heart of repentance, He will forgive.
- God Does not lie. So if God said that Assyria would capture the people of Israel and send them into exile, it would definitely happen.
So put yourself in Jonah's shoes. Make it personal. If you have a family, imagine that you knew you and your family would be kidnapped and taken hostage in the wilderness by a crazed man. A terrible thought, but let's assume you had a vision from God and you knew, with the utmost certainty, this would happen at some point in the future.
Now, one morning, you have another word from God and he tells you to go and encourage this man, the man you know is going to kidnap you and your family, and you are to tell him about the love and mercy of God.
Are you kidding? Who wouldn't run the opposite direction?
Perhaps Jonah knew more than we give him credit for. And which one of us has not known of something that we knew God desired of us and yet we ran? I think we can relate to Jonah more than we realize. He was a man just like us...very much like us!
Jonah was foolish to try and avoid the will of God for his life...so are we!