Summary: Heading in the wrong direction from God will lead to trouble. Jonah learned that the hard way.
Where Are You Headed?
It’s easy to get in a hurry when we know what the reward is. Some of us get more “motivated” to get things done when we know someone is watching us. Moving quickly is good as long as we are moving in the right direction. God wants us to move. Where we want to go and where God may be leading us aren’t always the same place.
Often this may conflict with what we think makes sense or what would “be best for us”.
Lets look at one man who was headed in the wrong direction-JONAH
Jonah 1-Running away from God
JNH 1:1 The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: 2 "Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me."
JNH 1:3 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.
God called Jonah to go somewhere Jonah didn’t want to go. But, Jonah ran the other way. Why?
He was scared.
He wasn’t worried about anyone other than himself.
The people of Nineveh had the reputation of being mean especially to Jews.
Would you have wanted to go?
Jonah 2-Running to God
JNH 2:1 From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God. 2 He said: "In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help,
and you listened to my cry.
Jonah saw the error of this ways, realized that he wasn’t going to escape the call of God on his life, and turned to God.
In the belly of the whale Jonah no doubt had reached the bottom of his depths.
How many of us have to go down that far before we decide we need to change our direction?
Many people find the story of Jonah being swallowed by a whale hard to believe. How many think it’s just a story made up to Illustrate something?
There is an account of a whaling ship in 1891 called the Star of The East.
The ship spotted a large sperm whale and sent out 2 boats with harpoons to attack the whale. One of the boats was capsized by the whale and a sailor named John Bartley could not be found. The whale escaped. Later that day, the ship spotted another whale. Again the ship sent out boats to attack the whale. This time they were successful.
The next morning the sailors were cutting up the whale. When they got to the stomach part of the whale they noticed something squirming inside its stomach. They cut into the stomach and out came their lost companion sailor John Bartley. Bartley was unconscious but revived. It took 2 weeks for him to recover from this ordeal. He was able to describe to his shipmates the details of being swallowed by the whale, sliding down its throat into its stomach, and the deep darkness inside the whale. He was able to breath in the whale but said there was incredible heat inside the whale. The sailor suffered not permanent damage from the ordeal other than his skin being permanently bleached white.
Jonah 3-Running with God
JNH 3:1 Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time: 2 "Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you."
JNH 3:3 Jonah obeyed the word of the LORD and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very important city--a visit required three days. 4 On the first day, Jonah started into the city. He proclaimed: "Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned."
Jonah didn’t have any problems listening to God the second time(think he learned his lesson?). How often can we say that? How often do we also say that we would have loved to avoid the pain involved in not listening the first time?
Jonah 4-Running ahead of God
JNH 4:1 But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. 2 He prayed to the LORD, "O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. 3 Now, O LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live."
JNH 4:4 But the LORD replied, "Have you any right to be angry?"
JNH 4:5 Jonah went out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city.