Summary: It is never to late to turn back to God. This is a three part series on Jonah.
I love the story of Jonah. Maybe because so many times in my life I have also been like Jonah. Have you ever felt like God was calling you to do something and you didn’t do it? If so you are not alone. I am going to give an outline today of the study for the next few days. But I believe the study of Jonah will help us to see that God loves us enough to chase after us even when we are disobedient. We can learn a lot from this story.
Jonah 1:1-3 “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.”
Let me give you a little perspective on how far Jonah was running away. Joppa was on the far eastern side of the Mediterranean Sea. Tarshish was on the western side of the coast of Spain bordering the Atlantic Ocean. That is approximately 2,200 miles away. That would be the distance from Atlanta to Los Angeles. That is a good distance in an airplane but what about a small ship with no power but sails? Now the distance from Joppa to Nineveh is approximately 700 miles. In essence Jonah ran as far away as he could in the opposite direction.
Why run that far away. After reading a number of commentaries and some other research the Ninevites were a tough group of people with horrendous torturous methods. If anyone was far from the Lord these people were. So Jonah ran
1. Because he did not want to go into that snake pit
2. He knew God would probably show mercy and save them.
Over the next few days we will try to parallel our lives and the life of Jonah. We can be hard on Jonah for running away but we run from God every day ourselves. I don’t know how God does it. He has an un-limitless supply of grace, Amen!!! Have you ever felt like you needed to make things right with a co worker even though your co worker was at fault? Have you ever felt that going to a new city would cure all your problems? Have you ever felt that God didn’t know what he was doing or didn’t understand? Have you ever felt that these people that have hurt you didn’t deserve to be let off the hook?
Well if you are a Christian then God has forgiven ALL YOUR SINS and wiped the slate clean. The Bible says that we cannot accept God’s forgiveness and then not forgive others their sins against us. It is all or nothing.
Yes, Jonah ran but God brought him back. We will be going over this in Monday’s lesson. Jonah did not come back willingly. Jonah even when the Ninevites were saved was not happy. Today you have a choice in how you view life. Will you be on board with where God is taking you and in your Spirit rejoice because God loves you? Or will you be bitter because God is saving others who you think don’t deserve to be saved? If we can grasp the fact of how bad each of us were, that it was God who for some reason saved YOU then that should be enough for us to be joyful the rest of our earthly life. It is jealousy and pride that gets us into trouble when we think others should not receive the free gift that we received. Please pray this prayer with me.
“Lord I feel like I am running from you and I don’t know why. When I was first saved I was joyful but I have let the worries of the world rob me of my joy for you and for life. I have let worldly circumstances cloud your love for me. Please help me to stop running Jesus and be happy and content where I am. Not only that but I am tired of running. Lord right now, please forgive me and restore my hope and joy unto you. Please lift me up and set me on firm footing and stop the devil from distracting me. I want to believe that you have the best for me but at times I feel like the worst is coming. Help me to cling to you Jesus so my joy is not dictated by my circumstances or by what people think of me. All that matters Jesus is you. Help me today to finally grasp how much you love me and that is enough.” Amen