By Lawrence Butler, The Bridge Church, Pembroke
This is the second in a series of studies on the Book of Jonah.
– God is omnipresent, which simply means that He is everywhere. There is nowhere one can go to escape the presence of God.
There is no place that God does not inhabit. “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. 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 1:2-3). Jonah attempted to run from God, only to find he could not hide from the Lord. A great storm caught the boat on which he was hiding and travelling, and he learned you cannot escape the presence of the Lord God.
Running to God – This is a personal necessity. Everyone of us must recognize the eternal importance of this decision. The prodigal son “came to himself” (John 15:17) when he was confronted by living with pigs, eating their food, and dying in shame. When he made this decision, he returned home to a loving and welcoming father. So it was with Jonah. “And 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” (Jonah 2:2). Desperation brings us home to our Father.
Running with God – When we go with the Lord in His time and way, things work for our good. When Jonah surrendered to the will of God, the fish vomited him up and he was on his way. When he arrived at Nineveh, he preached the message he was told to deliver. It would seem most likely that the vicious Ninevites would certainly put him to death in some horrible way. Surprisingly, they did not. They actually “repented at the preaching of Jonas” as Jesus said (Matt.
12:41). “So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them (Jonah 3:5). Miracles happen when we run with God.
(Notice – they believed God, not Jonah.) Running against God
– “But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry” (Jonah 4:1).
Jonah’s own will became more important to him than God’s will. He complained about the loss of the shade vine, but seemed to have no mercy for the souls in Nineveh. Let us learn something critically important about the Lord.
“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (II Pet. 3:9).
God loves all souls!