You Can Run But You Cannot Hide
Topic: Purpose Scripture: Jonah 1:1–:4
Theme: Surrendering to Your Purpose
Title: You Can Run but You Can’t Hide
Jonah 1:1-4 (ESV)
Jonah Flees the Presence of the Lord
1 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.”
Jonah and his father were a part of the northern kingdom of Israel. Jonah is said to have preached around 760 BC.
Jonah was the first prophet sent to a heathen nation. He was to be a mouthpiece for God. This is generally how God communicated to people, through the voice of a prophet.
Jonah was commissioned by God to arise and go to a city called Nineveh. He was sent there because their evil was so great that God was about to destroy them.
When God used phrases like “their evil has come up before me” that was an indication that means they were doing some very wicked things and that He was about to unleash judgement.
20 Then the Lord said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave,
God was about to destroy Nineveh for their sins just like He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. You may be thinking, “I thought God was a God of Love, why then is He set on destroying this great city called Nineveh?”
He is a God of love, that is why He is sending Jonah. God is really wanting them to turn from their sins so that He does not have to destroy them.
God expresses the way he feels about the wicked through the prophet Ezekiel’s writings.
11 Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?
The heart of God is to turn the hearts of men, even wicked men, back to Him.
To send Jonah to prophecy against Nineveh was an act of God’s Love toward the Ninevites.
- Who were the Ninevites and what sin did they commit to receive such punishment?
We first see the city of Nineveh in the book of Genesis 10. A man named Nimrod is said to have built the city in Assyria. Nimrod would have been the great grand son of Noah. He was a hunter who built the tower of Babel and led the world into a rebellion against God.
In verse 1 Nineveh is called “That great city.” At the time of Jonah, Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian empire with a population of 120,000 people. The Assyrian empire became extremely great and powerful with Nineveh as its center.
It was great because of its human advances such as door locks, paved roads, system of keeping time. The Assyrians were given credit for inventing paved roads, the first postal system, the first use of iron, the first libraries, the first plumbing, flush toilets and aqueducts and many more.
The Assyrian people had a lot to offer a developing society. They were great in wealth and great in power.
Though they were great according to the world’s standard, Nineveh was heathen city, they had no knowledge of God nor did they worship Him.
Just a side note, having great wealth does not make you great. It is better to know God and to worship Him. You might not have much, but if you know God then you are rich.
Your purpose in life is greater than obtaining earthly wealth. Your purpose in life is to know God and make Him Known.
Perhaps this is another reason Jonah is sent to Nineveh, to reignite their purpose. Their ability to gain wealth was not necessarily a bad thing. Imagine what they could have done with their resources for the kingdom of God if their heart was in the right place.
However, we discover they chose to do what was evil in the sight of the Lord.
One reason for the impending judgment, Nineveh was the center for the worship of Ishtar (Astarte) the fertility goddess. (As if by her hands life was given)
This is a direct violation of the first commandment “Thou shat have no other gods before me.” God takes this commandment very seriously. He is the one to be worshipped and no other. Nothing or no one else in our lives should come before Him. Many people have died throughout the bible because of their worship of false gods.
Besides that, Nineveh was ruled by brutal military leaders who brought terror upon the people by impaling, flaying, burning, beheading, dismembering anyone who was in opposition to them.
Nineveh became known as the “city of bloodshed.”
So already these people are breaking the two most important commandments. Love the Lord your God with all your heart soul mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.
These are just two examples of the many evils that came up before the Lord.
Jonah was sent to Nineveh to declare God’s judgment, that they might turn from their sins.
3 But Jonah rose (At this point you might think that He is going to do what God had asked him, His command was to arise and go. After all he was a prophet, a man of God)
But Jonah did not arise to fulfill the will of God,
But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.
- Why would Jonah run away from the presence of Lord?
- Why would he not go and preach repentance to the people of Nineveh?
- Why would he abandon his God given purpose?
Probably the same reasons that you and I run from the calling of God on our lives.
- Fear of Man- They were after all the Assyrians who were known for their brutality
- Pride of Life, Prejudice, Exclusivity-
Jonah was an Israelite. As an Israelite He believed that salvation belonged to the Jews and only the Jews. Israelites had no dealings with such heathens as the Ninevites were. They thought themselves to have arrived and they were better than anyone else. After all, they were God’s chosen people.
Jonah could careless that God was about to wipe the Ninevites off the face of the earth.
If we are not careful, we too will find ourselves judging others thinking they are not worthy of salvation. We must guard against such callousness. We must be burdened for those who are lost in their sins.
Remember, it is God’s will that none should perish and all experience eternal life.
- Vengeance- Jonah thought the Ninevites should die for their sins, this also kept him from fulfilling the purpose of God in his life.
- Jealousy- It’s a hard thing to see wicked people prosper while struggling to make it as a believer in God.
It is not said, but perhaps after knowing of the great wealth of these wicked people, made it hard for Jonah to preach in a way that they would return to God, knowing that God would bless them even more because of their repentance. Because that is what happens when nations repent, God blesses them.
We don’t like to admit it, but we don’t like it when other people prosper, especially not our enemies.
These were just some of reasons that Jonah ran away from God.
3b He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord.
There was this belief that God only dwelt with His people in Israel. So, in Jonah’s mind He believed He could escape God’s plan for his life by fleeing to Tarshish.
He was not only leaving the city in which he lived, he was going to another country.
(Map of Nineveh-Tarshish) 2500 miles That’s like going from Houma to Ecuador, South America
Jonah was getting out of town and away from the presence of the Lord. So He thought.
4 But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up.
Jonah must have forgotten that it was God who made all the earth, including the sea in which he was embarking. It must have slipped his mind that God was all powerful and controls all things including nature.
It says that “the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea.” It was the Lord in pursuit of Jonah. Not for Jonah’s sake alone, but also for the people of Nineveh. God had the right man for the job. It would just take an act of God to convince Jonah.
You can try to run from the presence of God, but He will find you. You can try to run from His will being done in your life, but He will bring you back to terms with it.
The Further You Run, The Harder He Pursues You.
For example, we have just finished our healthy relationship series. Perhaps there is a relationship in your life that needs to be healed. You know God has been speaking to you to do your part. However, you are like Jonah and are choosing to run rather than face it head on. Perhaps you’re afraid of the outcome, God is wanting you to reconcile.
Maybe there is a sin and/or an addiction that keeps tripping you up, and God wants to set you free. You know the steps that you need to take, repent, turn to Him, rely on His strength to pull you through. Don’t run anymore.
It could be that God is calling you to live holy and to have a deeper relationship with Him.
God could be wanting to use you to speak into the lives of those around you. Again, don’t run from it. We cannot outrun God. There is not a place on earth that you can go to escape God and His plan for your life. You might as well accept it and embrace it for your life.
Don’t Run from It.
If we are to call ourselves Christians, then that also means we are to be Christ-like. God’s heart longs for the lost to come to know Him as their personal Lord and Savior.
So, if you are a follower of Jesus, you must desire the good of everyone, no matter what their race or nationality. We do not have the right to say who gets in or who does not. No one is disqualified to receive God’s love and our love.
At the same time, we must be willing to say yes to the call of God on our lives.
If you run, He will break the boat in which you are escaping. Meaning He will break up those things that you put your trust in other than Him.
You Can Run but You Can’t Hide