• The prophet Jonah famously ‘ran away’ from God i.e., he tried “to flee from the presence of Yahweh” (twice in Jonah 1:3). To do this he set out for “Tarshish” (probably in Western Spain), which for him was ‘the end of the world’ and was the opposite direction to Nineveh (where God had commanded him to go). This would be like God directing you or me to carry out his will in Antarctica, but instead you head off to Siberia!
  • Jonah would even rather drown than repent and do God’s will (1:10-12)! In Chapter One he certainly was a very disobedient and willful prophet! So, it is easy to be astounded by what Jonah did and condemn him. However … you and I do the same sort of thing, in essence —
  • Each of us has been commanded by God to live for him in many ways, to obey his many commandments. However, we all sin i.e. we all, at various times and in various areas and ways, choose to disobey God. So, in that sense, Jonah is a mirror of ourselves; I am Jonah; you are Jonah!
  • Why Jonah disobeyed God … well, I won’t ‘spoil the punchline’ – you’ll have to wait until we get to Chapter Four for that answer!
  • The ‘saving grace’ for Jonah is the same saving grace for each of us: that in Christ God is long-suffering and forbearing to sinners (4:2b). He also forgives in Jesus every single repentant sinner.
  • There are multiple times in the book of Jonah where Jonah is the ‘anti-hero’:

    — Chapter 1 (the pagan sailors revere God far more than Jonah does);

    — Chapter 3 (the Ninevites repentance seems ‘heartfelt, whereas in Ch. 3, while Jonah does what God wants, he doesn’t do it why God wants him to); &

    — Chapter 4 (Jonah’s selfish, nationalistic tantrum contrasts so markedly and horribly with God).

  • So, for forgiveness, and ongoing forgiveness, we need the One who did not spend “three days and three nights” (Jonah 1:17; cf. Matthew 12:40) in the ground because of his own sin, but whose resurrection from his sin-bearing death is The Great Sign from God.
  • Then rely upon the indwelling Holy Spirit and God’s powerful gospel word and powerful written word, the Bible, to live for him … even if you (we) ‘are’ Jonah in various ways each week!