Jonah sought to run from God’s plan for his life. We’re told in verse 3 of the first chapter of Jonah that “…Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction in order to get away from the Lord.” How much that is like us! God’s plan for our lives is that we be pure and holy and obedient to Him but we go in the opposite direction many times thinking we can run and hide from God Almighty!
What was the result of Jonah’s disobedience? God sent a terrible storm, threatening the lives of all on board the ship, not just Jonah. This is true of our disobedience also. It does not just affect us, but all those around us too. We cause a ‘storm’ in our families and among all those closely associated with us. Yet, like Jonah, we are often oblivious to the storm we’ve caused. We’re told in Jonah 1:5 “…and all this time Jonah was asleep down in the hold.” I know that described me when I was involved in habitual sin. “Asleep down in the hold” not realizing my destruction and that of my family was imminent.
However, Jonah was awakened and his response was to immediately take responsibility for his actions and to face the storm he’d caused head on. “Throw me into the sea” he says in verse 12 of chapter one “for I know that this terrible storm is all my fault.” As a result the storm subsided. However, Jonah’s troubles were not yet over. Often when we face up to our sin and take responsibility for it, as we must if we are to be obedient, things get worse for a time rather than better. Jonah found himself now in the belly of a great fish. However, this time he was not asleep or running from God but was running toward God. Jonah cried out to the Lord, he was truly repentant and willing to do whatever God required of him. His prayer recorded in chapter 2 says in part “When I had lost all hope, I turned my thoughts once more to the Lord.” and “I will fulfill all my vows. For my salvation comes from the Lord alone.” At that point, God had the fish deposit Jonah on dry land. God still rescues us from the trouble we’ve brought upon ourselves if we will call out to Him, repent and agree to go God’s way instead of our own.
What was the result of Jonah’s repentance? Just like our sin affects more than just ourselves, so does our obedience to God. Jonah agreed to do what God asked and as a result a city of 120,000 people was spared destruction. What a powerful Word from God! When we repent and begin to follow God’s will for our lives, the result will be not only our freedom but that of many others as well.