Summary: Part two of Here am I...Send Someone Else
Series: Jonah and the City
Here am I…Send Someone Else, Pt. Two
Last week I preached the first half of this message but in order to get you all to lunch on time, I cut it off where we will pick up this morning. Last week we looked at Jonah’s call, this week we’ll be looking at…
Read Vv. 1-3
Jonah’s fall was…
Jonah’s fall from the Lord was calculated. I mean, can you imagine what it must’ve been like for Jonah? God chose him, of all people, to carry His message to Nineveh. What an honor! Jonah must’ve felt like the luckiest man in all the land.
But verse 3 paints us a different picture. It begins with two words that very well could be the saddest words in the entire book, “But Jonah.” Instead of being thankful, Jonah ran from God’s call. But remember, before we shake our heads in disgust at Jonah’s actions, we aren’t any better than him. There have been times when many of us have ran away from God’s call. Some of you might be running right now. Maybe you’re like I was and God is calling you to surrender into the ministry, but you’re on your way to Tarshish. Maybe you’re living in sin, but you refuse to repent.
The Bible tells us that he went down to Joppa. He found a ship. He bought a ticket. This wasn’t just a spur of the moment type deal. This was a calculated decision on Jonah’s part.
When we run away from the Lord, it’s always calculated. We know the difference between right and wrong but we choose to do wrong anyway. Tarshish was about as far west as one could go. It’s believed to have been in Spain, which is over 2,000 miles west of Joppa. Nineveh was to the east. When people run from God, they always go as far away as they can. Remember the story of the prodigal son? When he left his father’s house, the son went to the “far country”.
A lot of us have a Tarshish out there somewhere. It’s that place where we think we can minister just as effectively as we could in Nineveh. But remember, when we go to Tarshish and God has called us to Nineveh, we go without His blessing.
We could sit here and speculate all day long why Jonah would’ve went to Tarshish instead of going to Ninevah. I mean, think about it…if God called you someplace else what are some of the excuses you could come up with? Maybe Jonah was afraid. What if God called you to go to Iran today and share the Gospel? A lot of us might be running to Tarshish because of fear.
Maybe Jonah went to Tarshish because he was worried he would become unpopular. I believe a lot of people are running away from the will of God because they are too concerned with being popular. It could’ve been that Jonah left God’s will because he simply didn’t care about the people of Nineveh. After all, he held some animosity toward them. They were Gentiles, he was a Jew. They were known for their brutality. They burned children alive and tortured adults by skinning them and leaving them to die in the scorching sun. No wonder he went to Tarshish. If I were to be completely honest, I wouldn’t want to go there either.
That’s because it’s not unusual for us modern day Jonahs to want to run away from our Nineveh, or our difficult situations. It’s much easier for Christians to get a divorce than it is to go to Nineveh and be in the center of God’s will. So many people think the route to Tarshish is so much easier… until they board the ship. But the real reason Jonah fled is found in the first verses of chapter 4:
But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry. So he prayed to the Lord, and said, “Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm (Jonah 4:1-2).
Jonah couldn’t believe that God would shower His grace on the Gentiles, especially those who had been so ruthless with the Jews. Jonah wanted no part of that. We see a lot of the same spirit in the prodigal’s brother who “became angry and refused to go in” when his wayward brother returned (Luke 15:28).
So Jonah ran from the Lord. His fall was a calculated. He knew where he was going, and he knew what he was doing. When we’re on the run, we seem to forget the truths of Scripture. Jonah seemed to forget the words of David that he had probably read a thousand times: