Written by: Alexis Asamoah
Click HERE to listen to today's devotion
The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” 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.
- Jonah 1:1-3 (NIV)
We all feel like running sometimes. Running from responsibilities, running because of fear, running because of disobedience, or running because we don’t want to commit. Jonah ran for all of those reasons. God had given him instructions to preach to a city of Assyrian people, so they would repent and be saved. But Jonah didn’t want to. His pride, prejudice, and fear kept him from following God’s commands. However, God was still merciful and provided for Jonah when he didn’t deserve it.
Jonah was an Israelite, making him part of the chosen nation that knew God before the surrounding nations did. God had also chosen Jonah to be a prophet and to share a prophecy with the Ninevites, Assyrians who worshipped multiple gods. Jonah was fearful of being a prophet and also thought the Assyrians to be undeserving of God’s mercy and salvation, leading him to think he could flee from God.
Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. - Jonah 1:4 (NIV)
Earlier, Jonah had boarded a boat, which encountered a violent storm. Jonah could not flee from God because it was He who had sent the storm and later provided a whale to swallow Jonah. God was near and spared Jonah’s life and gave him another opportunity to share the prophecy. Yet, Jonah was still angry! Isn’t that how we also react? We are angry and frustrated that we had to do what God told us to, and with pride in our hearts, we wish ill-will on someone or something God wants us to be merciful toward.
But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. He prayed to the Lord, “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. Now, O Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.
- Jonah 4:1-3 (NIV)
At this point, Jonah had decided to run away from God again. It is ironic that Jonah would still be prideful even after God saved his life from the belly of a whale! But we are exactly the same way, withholding love and harboring resentment because we forget that we are also undeserving of God’s mercy. Thankfully, God’s mercies are new every morning and He is always faithful, so He provides a vine to give Jonah shade after leaving Nineveh.
Jonah had no right to be angry, but he could not grasp how God could be so merciful to a foreign, idol-worshipping people. Jonah was blinded by his own prejudice against the Assyrians, need for comfort, and pride that he could not even bring himself to desire salvation for the Ninevites. He continued to run away, but God pursued him each time, providing and caring for him.
Thank You, God, for pursuing us every time we run away!
1. When have you felt like running away from God?
2. How did God pursue you in those moments?
3. How can you be more merciful to those you may be judging?
Lord, thank You for Your mercy! Thank You that You pursue us when we run away. Help me to be obedient and trust Your commands. You have shown me mercy and I want to show that mercy to others. Thank You for providing for me when I don’t deserve it. I want to live more humbly. Keep me from being blinded by sin. You are compassionate, so I want to be compassionate. Give me the heart You have for people different from me. I want to be more like You. Amen.
WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT A RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD? CLICK HERE