READ JONAH ONE
Pull out your double-spaced copy of the book of Jonah. Read through Jonah 1:1-3 and underline all the references to Jonah’s interaction with the Lord in those verses. You should find three.
The first occurrence we see is in the opening line: the word of the Lord came to Jonah. As we saw last week, this indicates the prophetic calling on Jonah’s life. Jonah has the privileged position of hearing from Yahweh and speaking on His behalf. This is an intimate relationship and a sacred interaction that Jonah is granted.
The second occurrence you’ll see is the first mention of Jonah fleeing. In verse two, Jonah gets up “to flee to Tarshish” (which we looked at yesterday), but that’s not all. He is also fleeing “from the presence of the Lord.” Jonah is not just running from Nineveh – the place of his calling – but He is running from God.
The third and last occurrence in these verses is the same. At the end of verse three the author reiterates why Jonah is fleeing and who is he is fleeing from. Jonah finds a ship going to Tarshish, and “he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord.” Repeated words and phrases like this in the Text are not there without good reason! The author wants to make it painstaking clear to you and me: Jonah is not just fleeing from a place but a Person.
Jonah knows something that you and I would do well to remember: we cannot flee the calling without also fleeing from the Calling One.
This must be a sobering reminder to you and me. When we run from what God has called us to, we, by default, also distance ourselves from the One who has called us. The verses that started with an intimate relationship and a prophetic word from God to Jonah ends with our prophet intentionally distancing Himself from God.
As Christians, we often wonder how we can cultivate intimacy with God. It’s a common question, and one I’ve asked often myself. There are a lot of different answers, but here is a good place to start: keep sin out of your life. Disobedience always leads to distance. Jonah learns this lesson the hard way – not by hearing the testimony of a close friend, but personally. He is going to see over the next several chapters the results of his choice to run from God. But you and I have the privilege of reading his story today and learning from his disobedience today.
Praise God that, through Jesus, forgiveness is always offered to you and me. We’re always extended grace for our sin because Jesus is our Redeemer! As we seek to grow in intimacy with God, let’s start by confessing our sin and diligently relying on the Spirit to keep it out of our lives.
PRAY & REFLECT
Spend some time in confession. Ask God to reveal sin hidden in your heart. Ask for His forgiveness and thank Him that in Christ we have assurance of our salvation. Ask Him to cultivate closeness with Him and the help of His Spirit to walk in obedience.