READ JONAH ONE
Jonah is on the run. Though God called him to get up and go to Nineveh, he gets up and flees. But he’s not just fleeing anywhere …
Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “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.
We are told where Jonah is fleeing to and from.
Jonah is fleeing to Tarshish and from God’s presence.
Though we don’t know much about what Tarshish was like in Jonah’s day, it is associated with distant places in the Old Testament (Psalm 72:10 and Isaiah 66:19) and known as a source of wealth (1 Kings 10:22, 22:48; II Chronicles 9:21). And those two clues give us all we need to know to relate to Jonah’s choice, isn’t it? It is far away and has all the appeal of opulence.
You and I are drawn to Tarshish every day. Every ad that appeals to our wanderlust, telling us about a far away place where we can live better and be a better version of ourselves is tuning our hearts to Tarshish. When we’re drawn to a new place, a place that is not “here” and is not burdened by the daily struggles of our realistic lives, it is our own temptation to go where God has not called us. So often, the Tarshish in our own hearts is wherever life appears easier and the conviction of the Spirit is felt less.
Austin and I are currently discerning where the Lord might call us to church plant. We’ve been praying about a location and a people to plant among for years now, and throughout this study we’ve become well aware of how calibrated our hearts are to long for Tarshish. There are places we visit and find the amenities of the city and the ease of life there appealing, and we wonder if we could church plant there. The most telling reality is that we don’t wonder if God might call us there, but if we could work our way around God’s calling and plant a church there anyhow. And we think, After all, we would be so comfortable here. And we confess that our compass is set for Tarshish.
In what areas of your own life are you, like Jonah, tempted to run to Tarshish?
What things or places tempt you to leave those things God has called you to today and run in another direction?
Thank God that He is faithful. Tomorrow, we will finish looking at Jonah’s flight. But for today, in the midst of these areas of confession, we’re going to skip ahead a few verses and look at a theme verse that we will read over and over during the study to come.
Read the last line of Jonah 2:9.
Salvation belongs to the Lord. In the midst of our temptation, the Lord saves. When we fall into sin and run straight into temptation, the Lord saves. Today, when you’re tempted to wander from what God has called you to – when Austin and I are tempted to circumvent God’s calling and seek a life of apparent ease – God saves. And He saves us even from ourselves.
PRAY & REFLECT
Spend some time thanking God for His salvation. Thank Him for the things He has called you to. Ask Him to help you commit to the people, places, and tasks He has called you to today.