Jonah: There is a price to pay when we run from God
By Kevin Probst
Every decision and every action has consequences. Jonah went down to Joppa where he found a ship heading to Tarshish. "After paying the fare, he boarded the ship." (Jonah 1:3) There is a price to pay, a fare is collected when we disobey God and run from him.
There was a horrible storm going on. The pagan sailors were throwing cargo overboard in an attempt to save the ship. God hurled a wind into the sea that caused a great chaos in the waters and panic in the hearts of men. We don't know but what other vessels on the water had been destroyed.
You might think that God was trying to reach the pagans with the message that he could save them. That may be true but it seems God was primarily trying to reach a rebellious and disobedient servant. God allowed all of that chaos because he wanted Jonah to say 'yes'. Has God asked you to say 'yes' to his will? If you are experiencing chaos and great trouble in your life it may be God's attempt to get you to think about the consequences of running from him.
Recently America's debt was reported to be over $14 Trillion. We are experiencing economic breakdown. We have less money to spend on weapons and armies to defend ourselves. Unemployment, bankruptcies, foreclosures and unemployment figures are very troubling. Gas and food is becoming unaffordable to many. Life in our country is not as pleasant or easy as it once was. Is God trying to reach the pagans or is God calling a prodigal home? Our political and economic storm may be God's attempt to call us back to himself.
If Jonah would have only listened to God in the storm the great fish would have been unnecessary. But this is a reluctant and very stubborn prophet. Jonah went into the bottom of the ship "where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep." (Jonah 1:5) Many are sleeping today. We are comfortable and apathetic in our distress. While many other nations are experiencing great revivals and witnessing thousands coming to Christ it seems Americans are sleeping under the deck. The ancient prophets would shout to Americans, "Awake, Awake!"
The pagan sailors came to Jonah and urged him to pray. "Jonah," they said, "we are calling on our gods, why don't you call on yours? Maybe, just maybe he will take notice of us and we will not perish." (Jonah 1:6) Jonah is desperate to escape a determined God. "I'm the reason for the storm. Throw me overboard and all will be well." What stubbornness! He would rather die than obey God!
Have you ever known those who enjoyed their sin so much they would rather perish than give up their sinful life-styles. Many who are blinded and bound in their sin will say, "Go ahead and send me to hell. I'll have my sin. I'll enjoy it and if there is hell to pay, so be it."
I read a stream of conversation this morning on facebook. A young man was making fun of his friends who attended church. He played the hypocrite card like so many do. "I don't want to go to church with all those fake Christians." Then he commented that he guessed he would just go on and party in hell. Another asked him to reserve a place and they would party together.
I was shocked that they would take hell so lightly. But many in our society are so engrossed in their sin and so blinded to the truth that it's not unusual anymore to hear statements like, "Go ahead and send me to hell. I'll have my sin. I'll enjoy it and if there is hell to pay, so be it."
Jonah is shaking his fist in the face of God and saying, "I'll not obey. I'll die first!"
Every action and every decision has consequences. The lie many believe is that there will be no consequences or that the severe, eternal consequences described in the Bible for disobedience and a refusal to humble oneself and repent don't really apply to them.
Thankfully, God will sometimes bring storms into our lives and allow chaotic things to happen to get us to refocus. He will then offer us a better path to follow. The secret to replacing the chaos with peace is found in 1 John 1:9 "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness". He then leads us into a "peace that passeth understanding."
Kevin Probst - Is a teacher of Apologetics and History at Calvary Christian School and Associate Pastor of Crosspointe Nazarene Church church in Columbus, Georgia.