Have you ever run away from the Lord and doing His will in your life? Have you ever refused to share the gospel with someone because you did not want them to experience the forgiveness of God? Have you ever been really upset with the Lord? If you said yes to any one of these situations, did you prevail over the Lord?
The book of Jonah presents the prophet of God doing these very things during a season of his life. Despite all his efforts to avoid doing the will of God and despite his attempt to keep the Word of God from coming to the people of Nineveh, the Lord sovereignly prevailed.
His word went forth and His will was accomplished. The book of Jonah is not about a prophet running from God. It is about a sovereign God doing His will and expressing His grace despite an unwilling human prophet.
In the process of getting things done, God showed Himself to be a God of grace and compassion (Jonah 4:2) for people other than the nation of Israel. In fact, Jonah confessed, O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? 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. When rough pagan sailors cried out to Him, He heard (Jonah 1). When godless Ninevites turned from the wickedness in their hands (Jon 3:8), He forgave them.
You might be thinking in your heart at this moment that’s what I want; that’s what I need. I want God to hear me; I want God to forgive me. So how loud do I have to cry for God to hear me? How hard do I have work for God to notice me?
Remember, It is not about the volume of your cry; it is not about the amount of your work. It is a matter of confident trust in the Lord. Jonah 3:5 illustrates the simplicity the Lord desires with the statement, the men of Nineveh believed God.
The New Testament James 4:8 echoes the same message, come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. The message of Jonah challenges us to see ourselves as reluctant and self-absorbed.
The message of Jonah in the larger story of the Bible invites us to see the compassion of God fleshed out in the willing and obedient prophet-Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 11:32) for undeserving souls like you and me. It appeals to us to respond simply and sincerely to Christ the Messiah with obedient faith.
Have you ever run away from Christ?