Opposite Direction

Jonah 1:1-17, 3:1-10 and 4:1-11
Tuesday November 8, 2016

Focus passage: The LORD’s word came to Jonah, Amittai’s son: “Get up and go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it, for their evil has come to my attention.” So Jonah got up – to flee to Tarshish from the LORD! He went down to Jaffa and found a ship headed for Tarshish.  He paid the fare and went aboard to go with them to Tarshish, away from the LORD. Jonah 1:1-3

So when God calls, Jonah heads off in the opposite direction of Nineveh.  Jonah is fine with being a prophet to his own people, not so much with his people’s enemies.  So he goes to the ship yard and finds a ship heading to Tarshish, a Phoenician colony on the southwest coast of Spain some two thousand miles to the west.  This way he can get far enough from God that God would not call on him anymore.
The voyage to Tarshish is not smooth sailing, and not just for Jonah but for many crews.  Boats often struggled against large waves and strong winds, so in other words, Jonah’s flight is not on an easy path.  It is not like option A is to go into a dangerous, brutal, barbaric city and option B is a smooth flight to a beach paradise.  No, option B has its own dangers and perils as well.  Yet Jonah does not hesitate to run and choose option B.
Out at sea, the crew struggles to keep the ship afloat during a great storm and Jonah is deeply sleeping, he has checked out.  The ship’s officer found Jonah sleeping, woke him and asked him to help in any way possible.  Jonah, can you at least pray?  Jonah responded by saying the sea is angry because I worship the God of the land and the sea.  For Jonah it is a no brainer.  His running is causing their turmoil so he asks the crew to throw him into the sea so that the ship and crew could be saved.  Not willing to give up so easily, the crew tries to get the boat back to shore and when all other avenues have been exhausted they pray and hurl Jonah into the sea.

Prayer: God, help me to love my enemies, to allow your love to permeate all of me today.  Amen.

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