Jonah 1:2-3 – “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord.” ESV
Jonah was a prophet of the Lord! I am sure that he had a very solid relationship with God, until he didn’t. God gave Jonah an assignment. He told Jonah to go to Nineveh and to call out against it because they were a bunch of wicked people. Apparently Jonah agreed that they were wicked because he decided that the thing that God had asked of him was too much. He was so determined not to do it, that he thought he could run from the assignment that God had given him. That’s deep!
Now if we looked at the commentaries, they would probably give us some history of the Ninevites that could give us a possible motive for why Jonah would disobey God. (I think I heard something about Jonah saw what the Ninevites would do to the children of Israel and didn’t want to see them spared). They could even share some insight into Jonah and what he could have possibly been thinking, but here’s the bottom line, he felt that he had come to a place with God where God just asked too much of him. He just couldn’t do it!
The interesting thing about God is, that He often asks “too much” of all of us. He will eventually require of us the things that keep us from His presence, from a deeper walk with Him, from fully committing our lives to Him. And that can seem like “too much”.
I can remember praying about the direction I was to go in when I had to leave college with an associate’s degree because I could no longer afford it. I’ll never forget waking from a dream, or being in that in-between sleep stage when I had a conversation with the Lord. He told me to join the Navy. I said something like, “God, you know I don’t like the military, I don’t watch any of the movies about the military, I don’t like dressing like other people, and besides all of that, when they sent me a letter it was addressed to a mister not a miss.” But He continued to talk to me about the Navy and even told me why I should join the Navy. I so didn’t want to! So I said, that’s the devil!
Then I visited my pastor and shared my experience, but only shared that I was wondering if God had really spoken to me and if I should join the Navy. He said yes, and then proceeded to give me every single reason that God had given me. I want you know, I did not, let me repeat, did not want to join the Navy! Vanity kicked in and I told the Lord that I didn’t want to cut my hair off to join the Navy! I wasn’t happy with the Lord, giving me this assignment.
You see, God has a plan for each of our lives. And He has things that need to be done for the advancing of His kingdom. And He wants to use us. But!!!!!!! He wants to test our level of obedience to Him. He wants to know, or wants us to know, what is that thing we won’t do for Him, or give up for Him!
Some people won’t go to church! No matter how much you quote the Bible to them about not forsaking the assembling together, they aren’t going! Not for God and certainly not for you! Some people won’t tithe! They have a million arguments why they won’t. Not can’t, won’t! Some refuse to abstain from certain “known” sins. They are absolutely not giving up their man, their drugs, their profanity, their lying, their gambling, and whatever else in their life that they know He isn’t pleased with! It just isn’t going to happen! That’s called bondage!
Jonah ended up in the belly of a large fish. All because he refused to go to Nineveh and give them a message from God. We aren’t given details of what that was like, but I am pretty sure it was dark, stinky, claustrophobic, and even humiliating. Like some of the places the disobedient end up today! And while they are there, in that place that they hate, they blame God for their “lot” in life when it is simply their absolute refusal to do what He has asked of them! Go figure!
Well, even though I had no desire whatsoever to go to the Navy, I immediately contacted a recruiter and became a member of the US Navy! I am so grateful that I obeyed. I met and married my husband while I was in the Navy and discovered that I actually liked being in the Navy. (Not the cutting of my hair-which grew back; and not the dressing like everybody else!) It wasn’t always easy to live in a foreign country so far from home, or to not be able to attend a good Bible teaching, faith believing church; but it was the right decision, because God had told me to go! Actually, when I filled out the application and they asked me why I was joining, I put on the application that God told me to join! You can imagine the psychiatric tests I had to undergo; but I figured if He was sending me, He could overcome that obstacle!
Jonah discovered in that dark place an awareness of who God is. He said that those who pay regard to vain idols, forsake their hope of steadfast love. That thing that you won’t do, that you won’t give up has become an idol in your life and it keeps you from a hope in Jesus! It hinders His steadfast love from being available to you! It keeps you from the presence of the Lord! Jonah bowed his will, his idol, his disobedience to the obedience of God and was spit out of the fish’s mouth! Are you ready to be vomited out of your dark situation?
Obeying God isn’t always easy. We heartily think that we, like Abraham, can forsake all to go where He calls us; but let me tell you, most of us really couldn’t do it! You see, if you can’t obey in the small things, you will not be able to obey the hard things that He asks of you. None of us will! And some of these things are just our reasonable service. (Romans 12)
I hope that there is nothing in my life, no person, no amount of money, no status that is more important to me than obeying God. I don’t know if I have yet been tested in that “one” thing, although I’ve had many tests. In my heart I don’t believe that there is any thing that I won’t do for God. There are a whole lot of things I won’t do for a person, but I trust that I have a yes to His will and to His way resounding loud and clear! And when I miss it, I repent! Some things we don’t get a second chance at like Jonah did.
Think about it! Is there any thing that you just won’t do for God? Is there anything in your life more important to you than obeying God? Any person? Everything God asks us to give up isn’t because of sin. Sometimes He just wants our “Isaac” so that we can demonstrate that we will do anything for Him! What won’t you do for God? Think about it! It may change your life! Wonderful Jesus!