Has God ever directed you to go somewhere, Jonah-style? Jonah ignored God’s direction and calamity resulted. Jonah knew that the storm was his fault. God decided to get Jonah’s attention through the voice of trouble, and we get to learn from his mistakes…
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.”
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.
4 Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up.
7 Then the sailors said to each other, “Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity.” They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah. 8 So they asked him, “Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What kind of work do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?”
9 He answered, “I am a Hebrew and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.”
10 This terrified them and they asked, “What have you done?” (They knew he was running away from the Lord, because he had already told them so.)
11 The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?”
12 “Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.”
Jonah 1:1-4, 7-12
Have you ever felt like you needed to speak with that person or you had a divine appointment with someone whom God had a message for? Or maybe you were the recipient of the message. That was Jonah’s role with Nineveh. He was their messenger.
Except he didn’t want to be their messenger. We will see in chapter 4 of Jonah’s story that he knew God was compassionate and he didn’t want Nineveh to experience the compassion of God. Holy wow…
Do we ever act like that? Would we withhold the words of God from a person to keep them from experiencing God’s compassion? Doesn’t this come up with criminals who are serving life sentences? When we hear they have turned to God and are following Jesus, our response vacillates between disbelief (it’s another con) and disgust (why would that person be in heaven after what they did).
God will have compassion on whom he has compassion (Romans 9:15). We don’t get to decide that. We don’t get to determine who is worthy of God’s compassion. We are simply lucky that he chose to have compassion on us… aren’t we?
Jonah knew that the storm was his fault. He knew that God was speaking to him and he ignored God’s voice. So God was going to get his attention through the voice of trouble…
We ought to become more sensitive to God’s voice in our lives. And when he impresses upon us to speak to someone, we ought to trust in God. Jonah was trusting in his own wisdom when he fled. Trust God. Don’t second guess God’s compassion.