Disobeying the Will of God Jonah 1-4 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
God gave Jonah explicit instructions to “… go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me,” [Jon1:2]. Jonah disobeyed the will of God when he took a ship to go to Tarshish, instead. Consequently, Jonah’s life from there on gets rough, to say the least. Disobeying the will of God has some bad consequences as we will see when we examine Jonah’s life after he decided to flee.
When you decide to disobey the will of God:
You break off fellowship with God – Jon 1:3a. “from the presence of the Lord”. See also Jon 1:3b, 1:10, and 2:4. Jonah tried to run from God. No one can do that [Ps 139].
Your life spirals downward – Jon 1:3. “down to Joppa”. Jon 1:3 “down into it”. Jon 1:5 “down into the sides”. Jon 1:15 “[down] into the sea”. Jon 2:6 “I went down to the bottoms”. He just had one fall after another.
You experience inordinate difficulties – Jon 1:4. “the Lord sent out a great wind into the sea”. If the Lord is minded to get your attention he will make your way exceedingly hard. And sadly, others around you can be affected. The “mariners” had to ride out the storm. And they had to cast out the “wares”. It’s one thing if you could disobey God and not hurt others. It’s another thing altogether when others have to suffer because of you.
You can become depressed – Jon 1:6. “O sleeper”. The only way a man could sleep through a storm like that is that he is either the Son of God or he is very depressed. Jonah was very depressed and he was trying to hide.
You cannot hide the cause of your trouble – Jon 1:10. “Why hast thou done this”. The mariners figured out that Jonah was the problem and that disobeying the will of God was the cause. Eventually others become aware of why you are having the trouble you are having and they may have to do something about it to protect themselves. They had to throw Jonah off the boat. But notice that they did all they could possibly do to save him from his next downward fall [Jon 1:13-14]. Sometimes parents must do an intervention. Sometimes a child is forced to leave home. And then, sometimes employers must terminate your employment. Or, sometimes banks must call your loan. And so forth. The idea is that your problem has now become their problem and they can’t let your problem destroy them, too.
You eventually reach bottom – Jon 2:3, 6. “the deep”; “the bottoms”. Jonah went down as far down as he could possibly go [literally, in his case, to hell, Jon 1:2]. The bottom is where many have had to go before they would stop.
From here, you must turn back to the Lord. When he hit bottom, “he remembered the Lord,” [Jon 1:7]. That’s when he finally prayed and, thank God, his prayer came into the Lord’s holy temple. And the Lord answered his prayer [Jon 2:2]. If you haven’t exhausted the Lord’s mercy and longsuffering by the time you reach the bottom, you can still get back up on your feet because, “Salvation is of the Lord,” [Jon 2:9].
You can get back on track – Jon 3:1-4. “the second time”. The Lord gave Jonah a second chance and he took it this time. He was able to go to Nineveh and preach. The Ninevites responded to his message and repented. God withheld his judgment against them. And Jonah was credited with preaching the greatest revival sermon on record. Not only that but God made a Rom 8:28 result out of his return to God’s will. Jesus used the occasion of Jonah’s time in the whale to give the only sign that he gave to unbelieving Israel [Matt 12:39-40]. That’s quite a recovery.
But you still won’t be able to get your way – Jon 4:3. “it is better for me to die than to live”. The reason that Jonah refused to go to Nineveh in the first place is that he was sure God would forgive them if they repented at his preaching. Jonah didn’t want God to spare them. He wanted God to judge them and destroy them. When God spared them, Jonah couldn’t rejoice because he couldn’t get his own way. In other words, the reason for your initial disobedience is still going to be there when you get back on track and you’ll just have to accept that for God to get his way you will not be able to get yours.
Conclusion: The best thing for you to do is to obey God the first time. Disobeying the will of God is too costly to make it worth your while.