1 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” 3 But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord. 4 But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up. 5 Then the mariners were afraid, and each cried out to his god. And they hurled the cargo that was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone down into the inner part of the ship and had lain down and was fast asleep. 6 So the captain came and said to him, “What do you mean, you sleeper? Arise, call out to your god! Perhaps the god will give a thought to us, that we may not perish.” (Jonah 1.1-6, ESV)
Memory Verse: “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me” (Jonah 1.2, ESV)
Let us contemplate for a moment this statement “…from the presence of the Lord” (vs. 3). As we have said, Jonah tried to run from God, when God called him to a task. He tried to go as far away from the situation as he could. He paid the price, “went down,” “found a ship,” “paid the fare.”
But there is a bigger problem with what Jonah did in fleeing from the presence of the Lord. He could not have ever thought he would really be someplace God was not. As in the Psalm we looked at yesterday (Psalm 139), Jonah would have known of God’s omnipresent attribute, and the futility of trying to run from Him. So therefore, he must be running because he was refusing to obey God’s command, he was being disobedient. We find as we read Jonah in chapter 4, Jonah gives us his reason for fleeing; “And he prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster” (Jonah 4.2, ESV).
Anytime when we are being disobedient to God, we are trying to run from Him, hide from Him, flee from His presence. Two examples of this can be found in the pages of God’s Word. First in Genesis three (3);
Then the woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. So, she took some of its fruit and ate it; she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew they were naked; so, they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and they hid themselves from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. So, the Lord God called out to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard You in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid” (Genesis 3.6-10, HCSB).
Here we see Adam and his wife Eve, eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil and when they do their eyes are opened. They realize they are naked and sew fig leaves together to cover themselves. This is not the worst part, when God comes to talk with them as He did every day, they hid themselves because they were afraid. Afraid of what, of who God was, or what He could do to them? Their biggest fear we find out is they were naked, they were exposed to an all-knowing God, and they understood their place in the world.
Notice, they hid themselves from God, thinking somehow, their fig leaves clothes and hiding among the trees would keep God from seeing and finding them. But God still knew where they were and what they had done. They could not hide from Him.
Second, in this example God has instructed the Children of Israel concerning the battle of Jericho. “The city and all that is in it are to be devoted (the Hebrew term refers to the irrevocable giving over of things or persons to the Lord, often by totally destroying them) to the Lord” (Joshua 6.17, NIV). If anyone takes any of the devoted things, they will bring destruction upon themselves as well as the camp of Israel (Joshua 6.18).
The children of Israel defeated Jericho, and then went on to lose a battle to Ai, in chapter 7, why? As Joshua tore his clothes and fell facedown before the Lord, asking why? But God said, “Stand Up! Israel has sinned” (Joshua 7.6-11).
As the Lord proceeded to tell Joshua the problem, Joshua went to the children of Israel and began the process of narrowing down who committed the sin. It was found Achan had sinned against God.
Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, and honor him. Tell me what you have done; do not hide it from me.” Achan replied, “It is true! I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. This is what I have done: When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath.” So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent, and there it was, hidden in his tent, with the silver underneath. They took the things from the tent, brought them to Joshua and all the Israelites and spread them out before the Lord. Then Joshua, together with all Israel, took Achan son of Zerah, the silver, the robe, the gold bar, his sons and daughters, his cattle, donkeys and sheep, his tent and all that he had, to the Valley of Achor Joshua said, “Why have you brought this trouble on us? The Lord will bring trouble on you today.” Then all Israel stoned him, and after they had stoned the rest, they burned them. Over Achan they heaped up a large pile of rocks, which remains to this day. Then the Lord turned from his fierce anger. Therefore, that place has been called the Valley of Achor ever since (Joshua 7.19-26, NIV).
Achan saw something he liked and thought he could have it and hide it from the presence of God. However, not only could he not hide it from the presence of God, but it also cost the lives of some of his fellow Israelites. Achan’s arrogance and disobedience came at a great cost. Reading the verses above, we can see he and his entire family had to pay for his sin. God was not kidding when He said, “Do not take My devoted things, or you will pay.”
We can never run from the presence of God, nor can we hide our sin, or disobedience from Him. He knows all things, and is everywhere, therefore, it is best that we just obey Him, go where He calls us and obey when asked. Jonah would have had a more pleasant mission had he just followed this rule, but he chose to run from God. Be careful to condemn him because we have done the same thing from time to time.
Lord, You are my Creator, a Merciful God, Who Loves Me no matter what. Help me to serve You in every circumstance without question or fear. In Your Son Jesus Christ’s Name I pray, Amen.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jon 1:1–6). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
 Ibid., (Jon 4:2)
 The Holy Bible: Holman Christian standard version. (2009). (Ge 3:6–10). Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers.
 The New International Version. (2011). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 Ibid., (Jos 6:17).
 Ibid., (Jos 7:19–26).
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