The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish…
Modern day Nineveh isn’t the loveliest of places, but it is nothing in comparison to the ancient city of Nineveh which stuck terror into entire regions.
Modern Day Nineveh:
As the capital of Assyria, Nineveh sat along the eastern bank of the Tigris River. At the time of Jonah, this city, which was referred to as the ”city of bloodshed” in Nahum 3:1, was considered to be one of the most powerful and unforgiving cities in the entire region.
Let’s answer the following “Why’s” about this Biblical story:
There could be any number reasons that aren’t found in the direct Biblical text as to WHY Jonah ran away from where God was calling him. However, God did give us insight into the city of Nineveh when he talks about its treachery in the book of Nahum, specifically in verses one through four of chapter three.
Knowing what a scary place it must have been, especially for a prophet of God, it is easy to see why Jonah’s immediate inclination would be to run. Going to Nineveh would likely mean being mocked, treated as a fool, attacked, and even possibly killed.
Many scholars believe that Jonah fled to Tarshish because the city was considered in that time to be towards the end of the earth, and was literally as far east as you could go. The city of Tarshish sat on the coast of today’s Spain and to Jonah looked like his best option for getting away from the city of Nineveh
As we read this story of Jonah, we see a man who hears from God and runs the other direction. It sounds so silly doesn’t it? Yet…we do it every day. We run from things that make us uncomfortable and things that frighten us. Dear ones, we can’t let ourselves be led astray by our fears. In fact, 2 Timothy 1:7 tells us that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and a sound mind.
Hear this: everyone has a Ninevah – a place that we feel God calling us to. We have two options in the midst of a calling: to answer or to flee. Beloved if there is one simple plea that I can make with you today, it would be this: Do not fear and do not flee! Answer the call. Take the challenge. Go to Nineveh.
I promise that God will not forsake you or leave you, and that you will feel his presence even more in the midst of your obedience.