by Sonny Smith
Jonah 1:1-3 ESV
1 Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 "Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me." 3 But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the LORD.
Jonah's God is a pretty big deal. And so is Jonah. He’s a prophet to God’s people, and is in a good place, doing good work, living his “best life.” But everything shifts as “the Word of the Lord came” to him. (Jonah 1:1)
God calls him to go to the pagan city of Nineveh, capital of the evil Assyrian empire and sworn enemy of Israel. Nineveh was known for their violent behavior and torture techniques, and Jonah wasn’t having it. So he immediately goes in the opposite direction.
For Jonah, it was offensive that God would want to warn Nineveh of their destruction and offer them any kind of mercy. They were evil, so their demise was not only a clear win for Israel, but a fulfillment of prophecy. Yet and still, God was coming after this nation, and Jonah couldn’t understand that. It felt like God was asking him to betray his country’s interests. And because he could not see any good reasons for God’s command, he assumed there weren’t any.
Jonah had a problem with the assignment he was given. But he had a greater problem with the One who gave it to him. He was more interested in a God made in his own image. A God who blesses the good people, and gives the bad people exactly what they have coming to them. But when the real God–not the man-made God that Jonah is most comfortable with–shows up, Jonah runs for his life.
Like Jonah, perhaps the “word of the Lord” has come to you to interrupt your comfort–both your comfortable lifestyle and your comfortable thinking. Maybe God is calling you to something that offends your preexisting ideologies and sensibilities. Whether you are running from Him, or to Him, here’s the thing: we will never outrun God. And with every event in our lives, great or small, triumphant or tragic, He has been pursuing you like you were always His.
Running from God, but never outrunning Him, is the overarching theme of our lives, and is played out in how we respond to His Holy pursuit of us.
Can you think of perceived “enemies of God” in our culture today that God is coming after, not for their demise, but for their deliverance?
Ask the Father to expose the areas of your heart where you have formed a god made in your image, and surrender to the One True God who is running after you.