3 But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD.
Acts 10:25-29, 34-36
25 As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. 26 But Peter made him get up. “Stand up,” he said, “I am only a man myself.”
27 While talking with him, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people. 28 He said to them: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean. 29 So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection. May I ask why you sent for me?” . . .
34 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35 but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. 36 You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.
The Bible is the history of God’s dealing with His people. It includes our ‘dark side’ as well as our ‘light (or good) side’.
Instead of Jonah arising and following God’s call on his life, he arises and flees from God! We would have hoped Jonah would respond as did Peter, God has shown me…so when I was sent for, I came… (Acts 10:28,29) But, it was not to be. In fact, Jonah runs to Joppa: the opposite direction to Nineveh!
I can understand Jonah’s resistance to God’s command to minister to the people of Nineveh. They had defeated and oppressed the people of Israel. We learn later, Jonah 4:2, that Jonah’s disobedience is fuelled by his distress that God would show compassion rather than punishment! But in doing so, Jonah refuses to be a part of God’s dealings with all the people of the world.
Too often, God’s people become so self-centered that they have no concern for anyone else, let alone their enemies: in this case, the Assyrians.
Over the years I have made excuses to evade God’s command to share his gospel call to repentance and a living faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. At times I have not spoken to a neighbour, assisted a work colleague or spent precious time with a distressed person. Sadly, in this way I have refused to be part of God’s work in the world.
Calling God, strengthen me to respond with joy and commitment to your stirring voice. Forgive my failures. May the Spirit of Christ daily empower me for your service. Amen.