Avoiding the Call: Jonah

Last week we discussed Moses avoiding the call of God; this week we’ll cover a story even people who’ve never been in church have heard of: Jonah and the whale.

Like Moses, Jonah received the call of God, and like Moses, attempted to avoid it — at least until God explained it a bit more clearly.

Most people are familiar with the story: Jonah received the call, blah blah blah. Jonah travels in the opposite direction, swallowed by a fish, blah blah blah. Been there, heard it in Sunday school as a kid. What’s new? Hey, isn’t a new episode of American Idol on tonight?

I can see the eyes begin to roll back in your head and the glaze of stupid-vision taking over. STAY WITH ME KID! STAY AWAKE! DON’T LEAVE ME! YOU’RE GONNA MAKE IT (sorry for the overused war-movie cliches).

Sure, you know the story, but as Paul warned in Hebrews 2:1, “we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away (NKJV),” so here’s the part of the story you’re familiar with.

But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. (Jonah 1:3)

Besides the obvious absurdity of Jonah fleeing from the presence of the Lord, there’s nothing new here. Read it a bunch of times (gee, the Sunday School flannel board story sure was great, wasn’t it?).

Like Moses, Jonah wasn’t exactly thrilled with God’s call. In fact, he actively tried to run away. But who gets an assist in the stats?

Satan.

Huh? I don’t see his name anywhere in the text. Exactly. If you knew he influenced situations, you’d immediately recognize and avoid it, would you not? Of course — stealth technology wasn’t invented by the Pentagon, you know.

Okay, back to the story. Jonah made up his mind to avoid God’s call, but conveniently placed where he would stumble across it was a ship. Gee what’s that doing here? Hey, I know, if I take a cruise on that ship I can avoid God’s call. How coincidental I stumbled across it.

Not really. Remember the stat sheet — who got the assist?

When you want to avoid your duty, you can count on your friendly adversary to provide a convenient and easily accessible way to avoid your duty. Don’t take it … unless you like to spend weekends in a fish.

Jonah finally got in the game.

What’s holding you back right now? After all, it’s 2:59 AM.

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