The familiar re-make of the movie ‘Fugitive’ tells of a doctor falsely accused and arrested for killing his wife escapes from prison to find the one-armed man who actually committed the crime. The doctor, now considered a ‘fugitive’ has to evade the authorities while finding the real criminal. The fugitive is a ‘man on the run.’
Perhaps you know the other story of a man ‘on the run’? He was a true character who had a wrong attitude about God. He had a wrong attitude about witnessing and thought he could turn his witnessing on and off. Jonah was a man ‘on the run.’
Jonah running from God meant three things.
1. Jonah had heard from God.
Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. (Jonah 1:1, 2 KJV)
Running might be the expected response from someone who doesn’t know God. A person who has come close enough to the convicting power of God’s Holy Spirit to know the uncomfortable feeling of guilt, sin, and lostness.
Three boys had loaded up their weapons for a game of war. Their balloons filled with water. The church was closed. A perfect place to play. As one boy sneaked around the side of the church, a second threw his water balloon. His aim was off. The pastor, in his study with his window open, was hit. The boy ran. Why did he run? Because it was all he knew to do.
Many lost people are running from God. It is all they know to do.
Jonah, a believer runs. It may have been his prejudice, his needed ‘change of heart, or the painful experience of witnessing to enemies.
2. Jonah believed he could escape from God.
But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. (Jonah 1:3 KJV)
His initial response is “But….” It is the same response you hear from lost people, church leaders and the pew-sitters. The saved people display what some call “Billy Goat Christianity.
Give Jonah credit. He did rise up to the call. However you may notice he first bowed down in humility. Such is only the prescription for all of us.
3. Jonah is in for a costly journey.
But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. But the Lord sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken. Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep. So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging. Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the Lord, and made vows. Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. (Jonah 1:3-5, 15-17 KJV)
Jonah paid dearly for trying to get away. He actually wasn’t running from God so much as trying to get away from self.
Notice his degression. He went down to Joppa, down into the ship, down into the sea, and down into the whales stomach.
Notice his progession. Jonah the looked up to God, was vomited up from the whales belly, and up on dry land.
Are there times you would like to leave God behind?
Are there places you go where Christ is not Lord?
Wherever you are, God is there.
Are you ‘On The Run?’
Until next time,