There is much more in the Old Testament book of Jonah than a man who was swallowed by a great fish. It is for that reason, that we are going to enter into a series of blogs that can relate to us. It has so much important information about ourselves and about God.
Let us begin with the overall situation. Assyria was the dominant ruling nation in the world at that time. They were fierce and cruel warriors. Those they conquered were sometimes filleted alive. Their heads were put on poles for display. The Assyrians developed the art of war beyond any other nation. There was ample reason to believe that anyone should be afraid of them. The possibility of an attack from that country was dreaded.
Consider the options that Jonah had when God told him to travel to the capital city of Nineveh in Assyria. It was his assignment to preach to these people who God said did not know the difference between their right hand from their left-hand. Not only was Jonah a prophet, but he was also a patriot. He was convinced that his nation would be in grave danger if God spared his judgment on Assyria. Nonetheless, that was his assignments that he refused.
Now watch what happened when he turned his back on God. He took several steps to flee:
- He rose up to flee which meant he was in direct violation of God’s calling on him.
- His intention was to go to Tarshish which was considered the edge of the world at that time. Nothing was known beyond that.
- He went from the presence of God which meant he denied himself of any care or blessing from the Lord. He was on his own. He was committing a significant sin!
- He went down to Joppa. That was not only to go to a seaport. He put his life on a downward slope. Anytime we disobey God we are always on a downward slope.
- He found a ship going to Tarshish. It might seem even though we are not blessed by God that we can still have good fortune. Avoid mistaking it as good fortune and understand that Satan will help us facilitate our rebellion against God.
- He paid the fare. Remember this was unnecessary. God never asked him to offer up any type of payment as part of his obedience. However, keep in mind there is a payment required for the sins we commit.
- He went down into the ship. We can fool ourselves thinking that we are successful in life without God’s blessing even though that will take us on a further downward path. A path as we rebel against God that will lead to serious consequences.
- He intended to go with those on the ship. Even a believer can find himself associating with the wrong crowd when they forget God in their life. In fact, those people will help facilitate our distancing from God.
- He was headed away from the presence of the Lord. There is no plan B with God, nor should there be one for us. We either serve God or we don’t serve God. Jesus said that we cannot serve two masters. Joshua said that he and his house would serve God. It is more than calling ourselves good people. It is a lifelong commitment subject to God.
- He was asleep. A backslidden believer will become indifferent to the needs of others!
Here in lesson one, we can see that it is very possible to sabotage our own spiritual experience. As believers, our first commitment to God is for Jesus to become our Savior. Afterwards we have a continuing commitment to serve him, to represent him to the world, to address the spiritual needs of the world. This cannot happen if we have a rebellious spirit.