“Jonah got up to flee to Tarshish from the Lord’s presence. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. He paid the fare and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the Lord’s presence” (Jonah 1:3 CSB).
I heard one preacher say, “When you want to get out of God’s will, Satan will provide the transportation,” and I believe it is true. Jonah had been called to go to Nineveh to preach against their sin, but he ran in the opposite direction and perhaps Satan suggested an easy way out: “a ship going to Tarshish.”
In my life, there are times Satan comes disguised as Little Debbie. Years ago, I weighed almost 300 pounds. And while you can take the fat off a man, it’s not as easy to take the man off the fat. I will reach for a Little Debbie dessert faster than Jonah reached for that ship.
While that might be a silly way to explain Jonah’s actions and risks minimizing his disobedience, it shows how easy it is to get out of God’s will. However, if you will look at the text a little deeper, you might notice something more than a geography lesson.
That is because we are not seeing so much a runaway prophet going south as we are seeing his flight from God’s presence—and “going down” is a euphemism for death. Every step he is trying to take to get away from God’s call and presence is another step closer to death.
Running from God will not get you very far. In fact, it is downright dangerous. And yet, as Christians, we should run from the example of Jonah and to the example of Jesus. Think about it…
We serve a Savior, “who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:6–8).
So, while Jonah fled from the presence of God to get away from His calling, Jesus ran straight towards His calling and fulfilled it perfectly and completely.
Will you be more like Jonah or Jesus? Will you care more for your own comfort or for those we are called to love and serve? Are you running from God’s presence or to God’s purpose for your life? As you aim to live like Jesus this week, choose NOW to run WITH Him after those He came to save.
Editors note: This entry is an excerpt from Jonah Over Coffee, a 30 “cup” devotional on the book of Jonah.