In his spiraling descent in chapter 1, Jonah’s next step down was using other people in his personal rebellion against God. Jonah had already started running from God. He left his homeland and God’s people. Then he hired outsiders to help him escape God by boat.
Yeah, because the best place to be when running from God is in the middle of the biggest body of water you can find with nowhere else to go! So God sent a huge wind to whip the sea into a violent storm.
Check out this exchange between the sailors and Jonah after their prayers did nothing and they figured out it was all Jonah’s fault:
They said to him, “Tell us, whose fault is it that this disaster has overtaken us? What’s your occupation? Where do you come from? What’s your country? And who are your people?” He said to them, “I am a Hebrew! And I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” Hearing this, the men became even more afraid and said to him, “What have you done?” (The men said this because they knew that he was trying to escape from the Lord, because he had previously told them.) Jonah 1:8-10
Um…he “told them” that “he was trying to escape from the Lord”? How did that conversation go?
Jonah: “Hey, I’m looking for passage outta here. Where you guys headed?”
Jonah: “Reeeally? Nice – 2,500 miles in the opposite direction from Nineveh! I’m there. And I’m kind of in a hurry – trying to ditch God actually. He’s coming after me.”
Sailors: “OK, then. Here’s your ticket. Why don’t you hide out below, and we’ll let you know when we get there.”
Jonah: “Perfect – thanks (and, if anyone asks, you haven’t seen me!)”
Not only did Jonah show disregard for God by disobeying and running away, but he dragged these guys into it and used them for his own selfish plan. He couldn’t have cared less about these people. They weren’t Jews, they worshiped false gods (Jonah 1:5), and it wouldn’t have mattered to him if they all died with him.
He wasn’t interested in being God’s prophet. He just wanted to preach good things to God’s people (see his message in 2 Kings 14:25). We are all too happy to serve God when it serves our own purposes, too. But when our neck is on the line – no way!
By dragging innocent outsiders into his rebellion against God, Jonah also put God’s name on the line. This was a man supposed to be helping people move toward God, not using them to run away from him!
But Jonah took it a step further. He actually asked them to assist in his suicide! “Pick me up and throw me into the sea.” Frankly, dying in the Mediterranean Sea had to be better than what the Assyrians would do to him. At least there was a chance he’d survive the elements and could be rescued by another ship.
In part 1 we saw that when we run from God, we end up running from his people, too – the very people who can help us. It’s also true that in running from God, we tend to use people – the very people we should be helping find God.
In doing so, we discredit God, his people, his love, his grace – everything that he offers – just for a short run from something we don’t want to do.
Have you used someone in the past in your rebellion against God? Do you need to correct that with them?
Are you running from God right now and using others to help? Come back to God and celebrate his grace and forgiveness this Easter weekend.
If you don’t have a home church, and you’re in north-central Indiana or southwest Michigan, I’d love to see you at OTCC this weekend. I am beginning a new 5-week teaching series on God’s 10 commandments. You won’t want to miss a single week. Who will you bring with you?
Posts in this series: