God said, “Go,” but Jonah said, “No.” That’s what we said last week. Scripture tells us that the word of the Lord came to Jonah and told him, “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it” (Jonah 1:1,2). Instead of going to Nineveh, Jonah ran away from the Lord and went in the opposite direction towards Tarshish. Jonah was a man on the run. Have you ever run from God? Are you running from God now?
Most of us have run from God in some form or fashion but we need to be aware that there are consequences when we disobey God. God is loving and gracious, but when we run from him in the opposite direction, it will not go well for us in the end. Let’s look at what happened with Jonah.
Jonah went down to Joppa and found a ship to board for Tarshish. The text says, “After paying the fare, he went aboard …” Jonah not only paid the price to board the ship but he also paid the price for running from God. There is always a price for our sin. The enemy doesn’t advertise that part when he tempts you to take one more drink, or to take that first step towards an affair, or to buy that luxury item you really can’t afford. No, his sales pitch never shares the fallout from disobedience to God and his Word. He never shows you how hard the recovery process can be for an addict. He never shows you what it looks like to find yourself separated from your children because of an affair. He never shows you what bankruptcy looks like.
Disobedience has a price. God certainly wants your best. Scripture assures us of that. The Lord is out to save you, not to get you. He is a loving father, but there are consequences when we do life our own way instead of his way. In the first chapter, we see God call Jonah to “Get up and go.” Later on, we see the captain of the ship urge Jonah to “Get up and call on your God” (v. 6). God is trying to call Jonah up. Jonah doesn’t go up though. He continually heads down.
Throughout the first chapter of Jonah, we keep seeing Jonah headed down. It is a visible picture of the effect disobedience has on our lives. First we see Jonah go down to Joppa (v. 3). Then he went down into the ship (v. 3). The Jonah went below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep (1:5). Eventually, the crew of the ship took Jonah and threw him down into water (1:15). Finally, Jonah cried out to God from the depths of the grave (Jonah 2:2).
God called Jonah east to Nineveh, but Jonah went west. God called Jonah up, and yet Jonah kept heading down. He eventually got so low that he found himself hopeless at the bottom of the ocean. He felt as if he were in the depths of the grave. The idea is that he felt completely separated from God, and he was sinking in his sin. That is what rebellion to God will do for you.
Jonah’s disobedience not only affected him, but also everyone else on the ship. God sent a storm due to Jonah’s disobedience. The storm threatened everyone on the ship, and it was all due to Jonah’s disobedience. You never sin in isolation. Don’t kid yourself. Your private rebellion will almost always end up affecting those you love the most. Just ask the man who is trapped in pornography and lost the trust of his wife. Just ask the husband who has discovered his wife’s unfaithfulness. Just ask the family who is dealing with an addictive member. Life has too many lessons of how someone’s sin not only took that person to the bottom, but also drug down the ones he loved the most. So don’t run from God. Run to him. And that’s the Word.
The Rev. David Yarborough is pastor of St. Simons Community Church. Contact him at email@example.com or 634-2960.