What made Jonah run from God? Think about it – when he heard God call, he went the opposite direction of the place to which he was called. And fast! He ran from God’s will, not to God’s will.
Without going into the details of the book, I think Jonah ran for many of the same reasons we run: fear! But what was he afraid of? Personally, I think he may have been afraid of…
… the size of his assignment. Jonah was a prophet in the northern kingdom (Israel) during a time when there was lots of success. There wasn’t much spiritual depth during those years under Jeroboam II, but at least he was doing what he knew how to do to in a place that was “comfortable.” His work as a prophet among his people was something he could get his hands around. But when the call to Nineveh came, I think the magnitude of this call was more than he expected.
… the location of his mission. Nineveh was the capital of Israel’s enemy, Assyria, and they were known for their terror and inhumane torture, especially toward the enemies. ‘Nuff said.
… the opinion of others. A rebellious nation like Israel would not respond well to the news that their prophet was going to preach to their enemies. And Jonah wasn’t probably looking forward to the scorn he would get by doing this.
… the nature of God. If Jonah knew, after he delivered the news of Yahweh, that God’s judgment was immediate, he probably would have gone. But he knew God was compassionate and merciful, and that if repentance was the response of the Ninevites, God would forgive them. And he didn’t want that! Can’t you hear him – “I knew this would happen!” So he ran!
Sounds like me. Us! I’ve run because I have been afraid of those kinds of things as well, haven’t you? Something seems too big. Too risky. Too miraculous. Too dangerous. So we run. It’s a sure sign we’re scared. Afraid. Oh, that I’d learn to run to the call, not from it. That I’d chase obedience, not comfort. That I’d follow hard after God, not try and hide from him.
Next time I want to run out of fear, I think I’ll run out of fear. (No, that’s not a typo).