JONAH 1:4-5: “But the Lord threw a great wind onto the sea, and such a great storm arose on the sea that the ship threatened to break apart. The sailors were afraid, and each cried out to his god. They threw the ship’s cargo into the sea to lighten the load. Meanwhile, Jonah had gone down to the lowest part of the vessel and had stretched out and fallen into a deep sleep.” CSB
OBSERVATION: Have you ever heard someone say – “It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you don’t hurt someone else.”? This is usually said to justify an action that one knows is wrong. It is based on the misconception that we can sin in our own lives without impacting the lives of others. There are consequences when we run from the Lord!
We have all run from the Lord at some time in our life. It is not always when one backslides into sin. We can run from the Lord when God calls us to do something and we try to ignore His call. This is the type of running that Jonah was guilty of.
- “The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Get up! Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it because their evil has come up before me.” Jonah got up to flee to Tarshish from the Lord’s presence. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. He paid the fare and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the Lord’s presence.” Jonah 1:1-3 CSB
The people of Nineveh were Gentiles. Nineveh was the capital of Assyria, and the Assyrians were the enemies of Israel. The Lord was calling Jonah to preach against the sin in Nineveh and call the people to repentance. Jonah did not want to do this. Jonah was acquainted with the mercy of God and did not favor giving his enemies a chance to repent. So Jonah ran from God!
Can we really run from God? Consider this.
- “Where can I go to escape your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. If I live at the eastern horizon or settle at the western limits, even there your hand will lead me; your right hand will hold on to me. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me, and the light around me will be night” — even the darkness is not dark to you. The night shines like the day; darkness and light are alike to you.” Psalms 139:7-12 CSB
Trying to run from God is like trying to hide from the sun in the middle of the day when there is not a cloud in the sky. You cannot run from God. And, if you do, there will be consequences. The consequences will not only affect the one who is running from God, they will also affect all those around them. This is what happened in Jonah’s life.
The storm that rose against the boat was the Lord’s way of flushing Jonah out from hiding. Yet, this storm had a cost. It was threatening the life of all those in the boat, and it cost them their cargo. Jonah’s attempt to run from the call of God in his life had ramifications. It touched all the lives around him. His disobedience could have pulled down others with him.
We cannot sin or run from God with impunity. God’s mercy and grace do not preclude the consequences of our actions. It does matter what we do. And, it not only matters to us – it matters to all those around us. All we have to do is watch 15 minutes of the nightly news to see this play out on a daily basis.
Some may say – “Well, God intervened and Jonah was swallowed up and saved by a great fish. And, the men on the boat were not harmed and they turned their lives to the Lord.” This is all well and good but we cannot forget the consequences. All these men lost their possessions and livelihood. And, Jonah had to live three days in the belly of a fish, only to be vomited up on the shore. I don’t know about you, but these sound like some pretty negative consequences to me!
Running from the Lord always costs. It costs the individual who is running and it has a definite impact on all those who are a part of their life. God will rescue us when we cry out to Him and repent. Yet, think about how much better it would be if we wouldn’t have run in the first place. God’s mercy and grace are available to all of us – before we run!
Lord, help me to hear Your voice clearly. And, when I hear, give me the grace to obey. When I am tempted to run, bring me to my knees. May I freely surrender to Your will for my life. Instead of consequences that touch the lives of others because of my disobedience, grant me Your blessings that touch the lives of others because of Your great grace working through me.
In Jesus Name!