1 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil[a] has come up before me.” 3 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 (Jonah 1:1-3 ESV).
Notice two things:
1. The presence of the Lord is where God called Him to. God’s presence is the thickest around what He has called a person to do. In the case of this prophet, to move toward’s God’s presence would be to move toward’s Nineveh. So, he went the other way to Tarshish, possibly to be around some other Jews, but that didn’t mean God was there. Jonah’s appointment with God was in Nineveh.
2. Jonah was asked to preach to a people he didn’t like, or care about. They were racist towards him. They were enemies of the Jews. But, more importantly, Jonah hated them. He didn’t want the Ninevites to repent. Jonah is the prophet of Israel and a man full of faith. He knew God would and could reach them. Instead, Jonah chose racism, bigotry and exclusivity. He went the other way and kept to his own people.
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