When you choose to leave the presence of God, it may look beautiful on the way to your desired destination, but know this… it’s going to cost you something! It may just cost you everything! Are you prepared to pay the price?
Don’t believe me? Ask Jonah!
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)
The above scripture tells us that Jonah wanted to flee from the presence of God rather than be obedient and do what God asked him to do. He decided to flee to a place called Tarshish. In order for him to get to his desired destination we are told that he went down to Joppa. When he reached Joppa he had to pay a fair in order to board the ship to Tarshish. Now let’s back up a little bit.
Are you at this same juncture in life? Has God asked something of you, and because you don’t want to do it you’re running or have tried to run from His presence? If so, did you ever take the time to consider what being disobedient is costing you? Yes, I said disobedient! It may appear that you’ve gotten away, and life may even appear to be beautiful. However, you’re not really going anywhere.
In the beginning of chapter one, the bible says in verses 1 and 2, 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. (KJV) This was the assignment that Jonah fled from in verse 3 mentioned above. However, let me share a few key points with you.
The Strong’s Concordance says that Joppa in Hebrew means beautiful. It states that Tarshish in Hebrew means, “as the region of the stone, or the reverse”. So, Jonah flees from the presence of God by way of a beautiful place, pays the required price, to only go in reverse! I know you’re just as wowed as I was when I got this revelation, so I will say it for you. WOW!
Ok, so now let’s move forward. We know what Jonah was running from, where he intended to go, and his plan to get there. In verse 4 of the same chapter of the book of Jonah, we learn that God responded to Jonah’s disobedience by sending a great wind. 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. (KJV)
God has a way of stopping you in your tracks! Let me see if I can summarize the rest of the story for you. I’ve also included the bible verses for you below. There is a lot that happens in the middle of the story. The men on the ship cast lots and realize that Jonah is the reason for the storm, and they asked him what should they do to him. Let me also make mention that Jonah admitted that God sent the storm, because of him as well. He then instructed the men to throw him overboard! Now you have to be in a pretty bad place to tell people to kill you! They were out to sea guys! Ok, I digress and that is a whole other story. The men try to row to shore before actually throwing Jonah overboard. However, they were unsuccessful. Once thrown overboard, the storm ceases, and God caused a great fish to swallow Jonah.
5 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. 6So the shipmaster came to him, and said unto him, What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not. 7And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah.8 Then said they unto him, Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this evil is upon us; What is thine occupation? and whence comest thou? what is thy country? and of what people art thou? 9And he said unto them, I am an Hebrew; and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land.10 Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him. Why hast thou done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them.11 Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous.12 And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you.13 Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not: for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous against them.14 Wherefore they cried unto the Lord, and said, We beseech thee, O Lord, we beseech thee, let us not perish for this man’s life, and lay not upon us innocent blood: for thou, O Lord, hast done as it pleased thee.15 So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging.16 Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the Lord, and made vows.17 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. (KJV)
He is in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights. Can you imagine how smelly and gross it was? In chapter 2, Jonah prayed to the Lord from the wretched place he found himself in. It’s amazing how we make decisions, and when we find ourselves in trouble, we cry out to God for help. Because of said decisions. Again, a whole other story. Nevertheless, God heard him, and God answered! Why? Because when Jonah prayed, he repented and turned back to the Lord. Then the Lord spoke to the fish commanding it to vomit Jonah out on dry land!
1 Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God out of the fish’s belly, 2And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice. 3For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me. 4 Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple. 5 The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head. 6 I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O Lord my God. 7 When my soul fainted within me I remembered the Lord: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple. 8 They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy. 9 But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord. 10And the Lord spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land. (KJV)
Here’s the kicker! Chapter 3 tells us that the Lord once again instructed Jonah to do what He had originally told him to do in chapter 1. However, this time, Jonah is obedient. He goes to Ninevah! Reverse! Do you see how all of the trouble he just went through could have been avoided? Do you see how the life threatening situation he put others around him in could have been avoided? Jonah did all of that to wind up in the same place he was in the beginning. It cost him time, money, I’m sure some valuables on the ship, and almost his life!
1And the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time, saying, 2Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee. 3 So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. (KJV)
The message in all this is that 1) NO good thing comes from being out of the presence of God! 2) There are consequences to disobedience! 3) Your disobedience could put others in harm’s way! 4) It’s not even worth it!
by Denia Davis