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Summary: Jonah could run, but he couldn't hide.

Runaway Prophet

Jonah 1:1-9 (quickview) 

The word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai saying, [2] "Arise, go to Nineveh the great city, and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me." [3] But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare, and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.

The foul stench of Nineveh's wickedness meandered into heaven and turned God's stomach! So God ordered Jonah, a prophet of the Lord, to go to Nineveh, a foreign land, and proclaim His judgment against it. Jonah didn't like the assignment. Why?

The word of the Lord often came to prophets, and when it did, the prophets did what God instructed them to do. When God was looking for a messenger, Isaiah was quick to volunteer, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I. Send me!" Isaiah 6:8 (quickview) 

But not this time. Why didn't Jonah respond in kind?

Jonah's silent objection was, "We've never done it that way before." And Jonah was right. God had never sent a Jewish prophet to preach to a Gentile nation.

Jonah didn't like the idea of traveling to preach to the pagans, his job was to preach to God's people, not to the ungodly in Nineveh.

I'm sure Jonah would have been happy to have another plum job like he had 2 Kings 14:25 (quickview) , let me read that passage to you: " Jeroboam II recovered the territories of Israel between Lebo-hamath and the Dead Sea, just as the Lord, the God of Israel, had promised through Jonah son of Amittai, the prophet from Gath-hepher." (NLT)

In this passage, Jonah was preaching to the people of God about the blessings he would give them. He was preaching good news to God's people.

Jonah was a member of an exclusive club and he didn't like the idea of inducting new members. He was afraid that if he preached to these Gentiles, they would repent and God would forgive their sins.

"So he [Jonah] complained to the Lord about it: "Didn't I say before I left home that you would do this, Lord? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you were a gracious and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. I knew how easily you could cancel your plans for destroying these people." (Jonah 4:2 (quickview)  NLT)

Jonah didn't mind telling good news to the good people, but had no desire to travel to a foreign land to bring a sermon that he believed would result in a Gentile nation's repentance and a compassionate God forgiving them their sins.

I get the feeling that Jonah didn't mind the traveling, after all, he got on a ship to go to Tarshish, a distant land to the West of Joppa. Further, his objection could not have been the content of the message: God's judgment. Jonah seems like the pessimistic, dooms-day-type to me. If he was like most prejudiced people, he would gladly have condemned the evil people of Nineveh.

So what's a prophet filled with prejudice to do?

•Jonah Runs . . . but he can't hide

Because God would not listen to reason, Jonah the prophet became a runner. He ran to Joppa and headed for Tarshish, as he put it, he was running "from the presence of the Lord."


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