Sunday: The Disobedient Prophet

Not much is known about Jonah or his family background.

Image © Standard Publishing from

Image © Standard Publishing from

Second Kings 14:25 tells that he lived in the northern part of Israel and ministered during the eighth century B.C. The same text reveals that Jonah predicted a territorial expansion of Israel’s kingdom.

Nineveh was historically one of the three great cities of Assyria, an important country situated by the Tigris River. Because God is the Lord of all nations and all peoples are accountable to Him (Amos 12), He sent His servant Jonah to warn the Ninevites of impending destruction. God’s command recorded in Jonah 1:2 to “preach against it” (NIV) also can be translated as “preach to it.”

Assyrian cruelty was notorious. About a century later, the prophet Nahum called Nineveh a “bloody city . . . full of lies and robbery” (Nah. 3:1). Jonah was sent to deliver God’s message to such people. Among other things, perhaps it was fear of the hated Assyrians that prompted Jonah’s attitude. When told by God to make a trip east to Nineveh, the prophet refused and tried to flee west by ship to Tarshish.

At first, all things appeared to work well for Jonah, but then the Lord sent a great storm against the ship in order to teach His servant the lesson that no one can hide from God.

Jonah ran from God because he did not want to do God’s will. Even now people have many reasons to try to run away from God. Some do it because they do not know Him personally. Others reject even the idea of God and His Word; while their motives vary, in many cases they do so in order to not feel guilty about the way in which they live. After all, if there is no higher power to answer to, why not do whatever you want? There are even some Christians who avoid God when He calls them to do something that they do not want to do, something that goes against their inherently selfish and sinful nature.

Read Psalm 139:1-12. What’s the basic message there for us? What kind of feelings does this fundamental truth evoke in you? Or look at it this way: we believe that God not only sees all that we do but knows even our thoughts. Do we live with that constant realization, or do we tend to try and blot it out of our minds? Or, perhaps, are we just so used to the idea that we just do not pay it much attention? Whatever the reasons, how differently would you act if, at all times, you were keenly sensitive to the fact that God does know your every thought?

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