Corel Painter- digital painting
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.
There are 2 really bad jobs in the Bible: the prophet, and poor Moses leading Israel in the wilderness for 40 years. The people were constantly complaining and got into all sorts of trouble. Every time I think of Moses, I am reminded of the Pastors who work so hard in the Churches. They deserve our thanks and prayers.
Being a prophet was also a tough job. They had some incredibly difficult assignments. God told Jonah to go to Ninevah in Assyria and speak His Word. It turns out Assyria was known for their legendary cruelty. They brutally attacked outsiders. Poor Jonah was tasked with going to the capitol. Yikes! Assyria would of been where Iraq is today.
I love this story because it's so real- I might run too. We get scared easy. God included this story in the Bible for a reason. To give us hope and help us in our faith.
1 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 "Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me." 3 But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. 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 from the presence of the Lord.
So when Jonah got the news, he decided he'd just head for Tarshish. It was nice and comfortable. Scholars gathered there. They read and talked about philosophy. I imagine the best dressed Hebrews were there. Maybe it was like New York City today. But, as I learned so many years ago, God doesn't give up and found surprising ways to get me on the right track, my testimony (link). He allowed Jonah to run, and get into a ship.
4 But the Lord sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship was about to be broken up.
So here's the catch. Once he got in the ship a great wind came and almost destroyed it.
5 Then the mariners were afraid; and every man cried out to his god, and threw the cargo that was in the ship into the sea, to lighten the load. But Jonah had gone down into the lowest parts of the ship, had lain down, and was fast asleep.
6 So the captain came to him, and said to him, "What do you mean, sleeper? Arise, call on your God; perhaps your God will consider us, so that we may not perish."
It's interesting everyone had different gods. They prayed but the storm didn't stop. There's only one God. Jonah tried really hard to be invisible. But God sees it all; He probably whispered in the captain's ear to go check below deck.
7 And they said to one another, "Come, let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this trouble has come upon us." So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah. 8 Then they said to him, "Please tell us! For whose cause is this trouble upon us? What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?"
Jonah still didn't confess, I imagine him staring at his sandals. Maybe he was debating what to do in his mind. It would be really annoying to have the lot fall on you when your trying so hard to be invisible. We can't hide from God : ) That's a good thing.
9 So he said to them, "I am a Hebrew; and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land."
The truth comes out.
10 Then the men were exceedingly afraid, and said to him, "Why have you done this?" For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them. 11 Then they said to him, "What shall we do to you that the sea may be calm for us?" — for the sea was growing more tempestuous.
So Jonah has to decide what they should do to him... It's so interesting how people fear God, but don't accept or believe in Him. I've heard that in our generation too. It also makes me wonder about the impacts of the times I don't follow through on what God wants me to do. Maybe He has some great things for us to do in His Name.