In Jonah’s defense, what God called him to do was not as simple as the tasks we fall short of today. Please understand that the book of Jonah was written in a very hostile time. The City of Nineveh was where modern-day Iraq now sits. The task that God was calling Jonah to do was a very difficult task. God set the kingdoms up through David, then there was a division in the kingdoms. There was the northern kingdom, which was Israel and the southern kingdom, which was Judah. Jonah was a prophet of God, living in the northern kingdom, where all the kings were extremely evil. They were not doing godly things. In fact, they were “runaways” themselves. Jonah was a prophet of God in this very hostile and evil environment. His job description was to speak into people’s lives based on what God had told him to speak.
The people of Nineveh were Assyrian, who after conquering nations, would take their bodies, burn and skin them—they were barbaric people. Going to speak to this torturous people was a difficult task for a prophet of God. Translated to modern day, what God asked Jonah to do, would be like: “Hey Josh, go to Iraq, rally up I.S.I.S and the Taliban. Gather them up together in a tent and have a revival service.” The same exact call. Now you get why Jonah ran.
If you take this story on the surface level and come at it with a Sunday school perspective, you’d think “Well, Jonah was just being disobedient.” Jonah had a right to run. The call that God placed upon him was a heavy call. This would have meant for Jonah that his life was going to be lost because of how significant and dangerous Nineveh was at this time. All of the kings of Assyria resided in the capital which was Nineveh at this point. This was a very dangerous territory for a prophet. Jonah runs in the opposite direction and catches a ship down to Tarshish, which is roughly 2,500 miles away from where God was calling him to go.
How can you and I relate to Jonah at this time? I’d like to present you with the thought that you and I are more like Jonah than what we want to admit. What does running from God look like today? Tomorrow we will talk about how sometimes we just say a flat out “No” to God.
source : Ousus