Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

When God Calls – We Must Respond – Whatever God Asks!

Jonah 1:3a

But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish.

I know most of us are familiar with the story of Jonah.  Do you remember it?  In case you are not real familiar with it – here are a few basics of the story.  Jonah was called by God to a task he didn’t want to tackle.  He had a reason – and we’ll see that later – but is there ever a good reason to not do what God asks you to do?

Jonah’s reason was because he knew God was a God of forgiveness and he didn’t want people he didn’t like to be forgiven.  Wow – what a reason!  Let’s take a look at some of the story from the Bible.

Jonah 1:1-2 – 1 The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”

Jonah didn’t want to do what God wanted him to do so he ran.  Jonah 1:3 – But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.

We know that he ended up on a ship headed for Tarshish and that God caused a storm to rock the ship.  Eventually Jonah was thrown overboard and swallowed by a large fish (the Bible doesn’t say whale by the way) and spent time in its belly.  He came to his senses – who wouldn’t in such a circumstance – and told God he would do what was asked.  He was spewed upon a beach and went straight way to preach about God in Nineveh.

Jonah 3:1-6 – 1 Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.” 3 Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very important city — a visit required three days. 4 On the first day, Jonah started into the city. He proclaimed: “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.” 5 The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.  6 When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust.

After Jonah preached to Nineveh they were moved to turn their lives to God and God forgave them. This was exactly what Jonah didn’t want because he was angry at the people of Nineveh.

Jonah 4:1-4 – 1 But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. 2 He prayed to the Lord, “O Lord, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. 3 Now, O Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” 4 But the Lord replied, “Have you any right to be angry?”

So my question for us today – has God called us to do something we are not excited to do?  I have several friends who must leave home for several weeks and even months at a time – in order to work where God has placed them – called them – in life.  I didn’t want to go into ordained ministry as a youth or young adult – but felt compelled by God to do so.  What about you?  Is there something God has called you to accomplish you are not excited to attempt?

Another question – going along with Jonah’s calling – is there someone in our life we would not want to come to the saving grace of God?  I mean – someone we are so upset with that we wouldn’t want them to receive the grace of God?  Because that was why Jonah ran from God and didn’t want to preach in Nineveh – because he didn’t want them to be forgiven by God.

Could our heart be so damaged by an ex-spouse we wouldn’t want them to see God?  Maybe someone in our family’s history that has hurt our family so much we wouldn’t want them to find God?  Maybe a person abused us in our youth and we wouldn’t want them to come to the saving knowledge of God?  My prayer is that this is not so.  But today’s passage and story is all about God calling us – to whatever task God desires – and our response.  When God calls us – will we respond to what God asks or will we run?

Just something to think about today as you go on your way.

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February 20, 2012 - Posted by | Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey | , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. What is the distance between Joppa and Tarshish? Jonah really was trying to get as far away from God’s call as possible.

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    Comment by willie Harris | February 9, 2015 | Reply

    • The distance between Tarshish and Nineveh was probably about 2,500 miles – at the far reaches of the west and east of the region. Tarshish was on the western portion of modern day Spain. Nineveh was located in modern day Iraq on the Tigris River. Joppa was about 30 miles north-west of Jerusalem – a port city on the Mediterranean Sea. Hope this helps Willie.

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      Comment by raymcdonald | February 10, 2015 | Reply


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