Summary: When God calls you to do something you had better run to Him because you cannot run from Him.
Running On Empty
Text: Jonah 1:1-16
1. Illustration: A hospital administrator was once startled to see a patient fleeing down the hall out of the operating room, his loose hospital gown flapping the breeze behind him. He stopped the fleeing patient and said, "Do you mind telling me why you ran away from the operating room?" The patient looked at him with startled eyes and said, "It was because of what the nurse said." The administrator said, "Oh, what did she say?" She said, "Be brave! An appendectomy is quite simple." The administrator looked a bit confused and said, "Well, so what? It is quite simple. I would think that would comfort you." The patient said "Are you kidding, the nurse wasn't talking to me; she was talking to the doctor."
2. What are you running from?
a. Bill collectors?
b. Old girlfriends?
c. Your past?
3. Well, if you are running from the call of God in your life let me give you some advice...stop running! Because when it comes to the Lord you can run but you cannot hide.
4. You can do three things with the call of God on your life...
a. Run from it
b. Ignore it
c. Give in to it
5. Let's stand together as we read Jonah 1:1-16.
Proposition: When God calls you to do something you had better run to Him because you cannot run from Him.
Transition: When God has a call on our life we can try and...
I. Run From It (1-3).
A. But Jonah Went In the Opposite Direction
1. The book of Jonah begins with, "The LORD gave this message to Jonah son of Amittai..."
a. Who is Jonah?
b. Jonah was a Galilean prophet to King Jeroboam II, who reigned over the Northern Tribes of Israel.
c. Jonah is mentioned in 2 Kings 14:25. He prophesied during the reign of Jeroboam II, the king of Israel from 793 to 753 B.C.
d. He may have been a member of the company of prophets mentioned in connection with Elisha's ministry.
2. One day the Lord came to Jonah and said, “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.”
a. In keeping with the best prophetic tradition Yahweh is represented as the Lord of the nations, to whom the whole world is held morally accountable.
b. If Nineveh is great, God is greater, for he speaks from heaven above.
c. The simple way in which the reason for denouncing Nineveh is expressed recalls the divine statement in Gen. 18:20, 21 concerning Sodom and Gomorrah.
d. Nineveh is another Sodom, an unhallowed haunt of wickedness meriting destruction (The New International Commentary on the Old Testament – The Books of Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, and Micah).
e. Why would God want to save such a wicked city?
f. The phrase "great city" appears only three other times in the book of Jonah.
g. The implication is that such an important and large city is worth Yahweh's trouble to save because God cares about people, a major theme in Jonah (Bruckner, NIV Application Commentary, 46).
3. However, the text tells us that "But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the LORD...."
a. No reason is given for the disobedience. Jonah is simply stamped as a deserter from God's army, running as hard as he can away from the enemy's direction.
b. Verse 3 is cleverly structured by means of repetition to make the narrator's point. Jonah does the exact opposite of what he is told.
c. However, a little historical background gives us some idea for Jonah's disobedience.
d. Nineveh was the capital city of Assyria who were Israel's worst enemy.
e. They were a powerful and well-developed nation, known for their brutality.
f. Of course running away from Yahweh is an impossibility.
g. The phrase "to get away from the Lord," is literally "away from His presence" and is used twice in this verse as a point of emphasis.
h. This is a common mistake made by people of faith to try and run away from the Lord and ignore his word to us (Bruckner, 47-48).
4. Instead of going to Nineveh like the Lord told his to do, Jonah, "...went down to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish. He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping to escape from the LORD by sailing to Tarshish."
a. Jonah does the exact opposite of what he is told. The narrator makes him act out a defiant "no" to Yahweh's call to Nineveh.
b. Tarshish was at the other end of the world from Nineveh. It was one of those far-off places where Yahweh had not revealed himself. As such, it is an ideal destination in the escape plan Jonah devises.