In the Deep
Jonah 1:1-3 ESV
2 Kings 14:25 ESV
2 Chronicles 16:9 ESV
Jonah 1:4-6 (a great wind came up)
Jonah 1:7-10 ESV
Jonah 1:12 ESV
Jonah 1:15-16 (Jonah was thrown into the sea)
Jonah 1:17 ESV
Jonah 2:5-6 ESV
Jonah’s story fascinates me. Sorting it out takes a bit of digging and detective work. That’s okay because I like that kind of sleuthing.
Specifically, Jonah 1:1-3 tells us, “Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord.”
We learn from Jonah 1:1-3 that the evil in Nineveh had ‘come before God’ and God told Jonah to go there. Scripture doesn’t reveal how God became aware there was evil in Ninevah…we are told that God saw the evil. God knew.
To give us context for the geography of the story, we know that Nineveh was the capital city of the Assyrian Empire beginning around 1800 BC through around 600 BC (https://www.worldhistory.org/nineveh/). Ninevah was some 500 miles from his home in Gath-Hepher. That would have been quite a trek for the Prophet Jonah.
According to 2 Kings 14:25 we know Jonah was from (Gath-Hepher), a border town in Israel. The King of Israel, Jeroboam Ben Joash reigned in Northern Israel from 786 to 746 BC. 2 Kings 14:25 tells us, “He restored the border of Israel from Lebo-hamath as far as the Sea of the Arabah, according to the word of the Lord, the God of Israel, which he spoke by his servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet, who was from Gath-Hepher.“
So…Jonah the Prophet was from Gath-Hepher in the Northern Kingdom of Israel. We also know that instead of going to Ninevah as God commanded, Jonah decided to sail to Tarshish, which was in Spain (https://creationwiki.org/Tarshish_(city). Again, Gath-Hepher was 500 miles from Ninevah. Gath-Hepher was 3,000 miles from Spain. Jonah was serious about not going to Ninevah!
Next, we might wonder how God notice the evil in Ninevah?
Scripture doesn’t tell how the information about the evil in Ninevah came before God. But from 2 Chronicles 16:9 we know, “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.”
In this case, God searched the earth and saw the evil in Ninevah.
God also saw Jonah.
Jonah was supposed to be the man of the hour…emphasis on supposed to be. Unfortunately, Jonah took off going in the opposite direction.
Jonah was on a ship headed toward Tarshish and a great wind came up (Jonah 1:4-6). In Jonah 1:7-10 we learn, “And they said to one another, “Come, let us cast lots, that we may know on whose account this evil has come upon us.” So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah. Then they said to him, “Tell us on whose account this evil has come upon us. What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?” And he said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” Then the men were exceedingly afraid and said to him, “What is this that you have done!” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them.”
In Jonah 1:12 we know that Jonah said to the crew on ship, “Pick me up and hurl me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you, for I know it is because of me that this great tempest has come upon you.” The men on ship still tried to help Jonah but the strong sea was too much for them.
Eventually (Jonah 1:15-16) Jonah was thrown into the sea and we know from Jonah 1:17, “the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.”
Once Jonah ran from God, we read in Jonah 2:5-6, “The waters closed in over me to take my life; the deep surrounded me; weeds were wrapped about my head at the roots of the mountains. I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me forever; yet you brought up my life from the pit, O Lord my God.”
Jonah ran but he found that while you can run, you cannot hide from God. You cannot hide from God. Again, you cannot hide from God.
The blessing is that you cannot hide from God. Wherever you go, God is already there. God will not forsake you.
Today’s Spiritual Practice is: Sit with God
Know that God is where you are…God is IN you always and forever. God will NOT forsake you.
In God, Deborah