Daily Devotional Jonah 1:1–2:10
We resist the call of God for many reasons. Maybe we feel inadequate, or we fear the ramifications. We might prefer the comfort of our current situation or have a distaste for the assignment. The book of Jonah documents one man’s resistance to God’s call. Others merely protested, but Jonah led God in a full-on chase.
The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”
God called Jonah to bring a message of repentance to Nineveh, a large city on the eastern bank of the Tigris River (now Iraq). It was over 500 miles from Israel, a month’s journey by land. Nineveh was considered “great” because of its size and importance. Morally, however, it was a mess. The people were cruel, violent, and known for idolatry. If he entered that city, Jonah’s life could be in danger.
Unlike the prophets before him, Jonah did not offer a verbal protest to the Lord. He didn’t argue his inadequacy or fear. He just ran. His destination was Tarshish, which may have been in North Africa or even Spain (possibly more than 2,000 miles away). Jonah was serious about his escape.
In the narrative, Jonah (probably the author) recorded that he “ran away from the LORD” (v. 3). This, of course, was impossible. The omnipresent God worked through the wind, the water, and the sailors to bring Jonah to a place of confession and discipline. And when the crew had thrown Jonah into the sea to save themselves, God sent a fish to rescue him.
From the belly of the fish, Jonah cried, “In my distress I called [kaleo] to the LORD and he answered me” (2:2). In Jonah’s distress, God opened his eyes to His mercy and salvation and moved Jonah from disobedience to thankfulness and obedience.
>> Jonah’s story shows us how we, too, can sometimes disobey or even deny the call of God. But if you read the rest of Jonah’s story, you’ll see that God is able to bring His servants back—to correct our course in extraordinary ways.
Pray with Us
Even when we are in open rebellion against You, You are gracious enough to humble our hearts and point us back in the right direction. Even when we cry out to You from troubles of our own making, You comfort us.