YOU CAN RUN BUT YOU CANNOT HIDE!
Earlier this month we celebrated Easter in which God came to the earth first as a baby, then grew to a man. A man who was called to bring the truth to a people and a world that needed to hear what God had to say. Jesus, God in the flesh, came to this world to accomplish several things. When the going got tough, Jesus could have said I am not doing this, but he stayed true to all the things he came to earth to do.
This morning we read about Jonah and what he had been called by God to do. Jonah had been given the job of telling the people of Nineveh how judgement from God was coming to them because of their sin. As we read on in the book of Jonah the next couple of weeks, we will see why Jonah reacted the way he did. Jonah did not want to do what God had called him to do. Jonah had no plans of going to Nineveh. In fact, Jonah found the first ship going the exact opposite direction from Nineveh he could find and paid to go to the town of Tarshish. Clearly Tarshish was not anywhere near Nineveh. Jonah’s plan was clearly not to do what God had commanded him to do, but Jonah’s plans were not going according to the way he thought they would. Once Jonah was on the ship, he decided to stay out of sight as much as he could. He went below to sleep until they got to Tarshish, but God still had plans for Jonah. God caused the waters to be so violent that the captain was afraid the ship would break to pieces. The captain went down and woke Jonah up and told him to ask his God for help. Then the sailors decided to cast lots, believing it would reveal who brought this problem of a deadly sea upon them. God made sure the lot fell on Jonah. When that had happened, they asked Jonah, “Why is this happening?” Jonah explained he was a Hebrew and that he worshiped the God who made Heaven as well as the seas. Sailors had such a deep respect for the sea that when Jonah said this, they were afraid of what it all might mean for them.
Earlier Jonah had told some of the sailors he was trying to get away from what his God wanted him to do. The sailors were afraid of Jonah’s God as well as Jonah so they asked him, “What can we do to calm the sea?” To Jonah’s credit, he told the sailors to throw him into the sea. The sailors were afraid that Jonah’s God would be mad at them so they continued to try to save their ship but it was not working. In desperation they cried out to Jonah’s God saying, “Do not hold it against us if Jonah dies because we did what he told us to do.” The minute they threw Jonah overboard the sea became calm. As a result of what happened the sailors had a life-changing moment that led them to worship God. They offered sacrifices to God and made vows to God that reflected their thankfulness to God for saving their lives. These sailors were forever changed, but what about Jonah? Was God going to have to find someone else to go to Nineveh? After all, Jonah had to have drowned, right? No God’s plan to use Jonah to deliver the message to Nineveh was still in effect. God had another plan to get Jonah to Nineveh. He got to ride in the belly of a great big fish for three days and three nights. Satan had convinced Jonah to run. Satan did not want Nineveh to get the message God had for them. Satan believed he had stopped God’s plan for Nineveh just like Satan believed he had stopped God’s plan when he saw to it that Jesus was crucified. Satan, however, found out God’s plans will never be stopped.
Have you ever heard God calling you to do something before, but in some cases you came up with a bunch of reasons why you just could not do it? What we have read so far in the story of Jonah is that God is persistent. I think we will find out God accomplished his plan for Nineveh.
God will always complete his plans every time. The question at times for you and me is, will we help God complete his plans? God has plans to bless us and use us to accomplish his purposes. We may not know what God has in store for us next, but we can always trust in the fact that God loves us and will never ask us to do more than we are capable of. As we continue looking at Jonah’s story next week, will some of us see similarities in his story to our own? Jonah found out you can run but you cannot hide. One of the lessons we can learn from Jonah’s experience is when God is calling us to do something, it will probably be best if we just do it. Otherwise, we may end up in the belly of a big fish or maybe, just maybe, something worse.
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