I don’t like to run. I always joke that if I’m running, you better run too, because something is chasing me. But I don’t run away from responsibilities. If I run away, who will deal with it? So, I can’t imagine Jonah, a chosen prophet of God, running away from his calling.
The Assyrians in Nineveh were terrifying. They loved torture—took it to an art form. But Jonah had God on his side. He wasn’t running from the Assyrians. At the end of his story he tells us why he ran. “That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity” (Jonah 4:2, NIV).
Well, that puts a whole new spin on things. When we read about the ship and the storm and Jonah casually telling the sailors to throw him overboard, it makes more sense.
Basically, he’s saying he hates the Assyrians more than he wants to obey God. He hates them and wants them to die. He doesn’t want to warn them, because if they repent, God may save them.
How many times do I go my own way rather than obey God?
I know when I’m hoping for something and I don’t get it, but someone who, in my mind, doesn’t deserve it, does get it, it makes me mad. That’s a very small place to be—listening to that green-eyed monster.
I want it to be fair. Jonah wanted it to be fair.
But if things were fair, I’d be going to hell. Because if things were fair, Jesus wouldn’t have died in my place.
That green-eyed monster takes away perspective. Makes me lose my focus. Or rather, makes me focus on myself instead of Jesus.
I’d really rather not spend three days in the belly of a fish to remember that. But sometimes that’s what I’ve got to do to understand the theme of Jonah and basically the whole Bible: Salvation comes from the LORD.
This sanctification process hurts sometimes.