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.
Did you hear that language? God clearly says to Jonah, “Arise, go to Nineveh.” And Jonah rose and fled to Tarshish, like the exact opposite of what God was telling Jonah to do, Jonah did.
When I read this, it’s just so stark. This is the very beginning of the book of Jonah and from the very start, we are introduced to a man, a sinner, just like you and me, who is prone to hear the word of God and do directly opposite to what God has said.
When God clearly calls Jonah to bring the gospel to unreached people, he turns and runs away from God’s call.
Would you just pause in your life right now and think, are there any ways that you are directly disobeying God’s word? In your life right now is there any way in which God has spoken through his word, his spirit, and you have either not done what he has told you to do or done what he has told you not to do? This picture of sins of commission and omission. Other words, commission being us doing things that God has said don’t do. But omission, that’s what we’re reading about here in Jonah, not doing what God has told us to do.
Is there anything that you are doing that goes either against God’s commands or is there anything God has told you to do that you are not doing? And I just want to lead us to pray in repentance. One, that God would open our eyes to anything along these lines, and then two, to pray that God would help us to obey him. And I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention, in a way that will lead us into praying, that this is specifically God telling Jonah to take his message, his word, to people in Tarshish who needed to hear his word and so are there people in your life who need to hear the gospel, that you have not shared the gospel with when God has clearly put you in their life to share the gospel. He’s given you the greatest news in the world. He’s given you the power of his spirit. The reason they’re in your life is that you might share the gospel with them.
So, is there anyone you are failing to share the gospel with? And then if I could take it just one step deeper, are there some of you listening to this podcast right now, whom God is calling to take the gospel to people who’ve never heard it and for any number of reasons, you have said no to his call in your life?
We pray all the time on this podcast for unreached people and I always pray, God uses our lives to take the gospel to them and I just wonder if there are some listening right now who God has been saying, I want you to move your life to a place where the gospel’s not yet gone. And for any number of reasons you’ve said no and maybe in this short podcast episode, as we pray, maybe now is the moment where you decide, by God’s grace according to the leadership of God’s spirit, to obey what he is telling you to do. Where you decide to refuse to flee from the presence of the Lord.
God, we pray, acknowledging, knowing that all of us are prone to disobey you. God, we’re prone to hear your word and walk in the other direction, just like Jonah did. We’re prone to hear your word and not do anything about it and so God, we pray that you’d help us to be obedient. God help us to obey your word by the power of your spirit. May it not be said of us, that we heard your word and that we rose and did the exact opposite.
In every facet of our lives, God, we pray for obedience to your word and your spirit, specifically when it comes to sharing your word. God, we pray that you’d help us to be obedient, to share the gospel with people around us today, not to waiver any longer when it comes to anyone in our lives who does not know the gospel, has not heard the gospel from us specifically. God, that you would help us to be obedient and sharing the gospel with them, today, this week. That we would not waiver any longer and God, if I could be so bold, I pray that in this moment, you might work in some hearts to send out laborers, men and women, individuals, singles, families, children, students as they think about their future, to follow your leadership, the leadership of your spirit, to take the gospel to hard places, to places they may not want to go, just like Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh.
God, we pray that you would grant us grace to follow your leadership and particularly now for your grace, for men and women, you are calling to go to the unreached, to go to decide in this moment, that they are going to be obedient to the leadership of your spirit. Whether that plays out right now in steps they start taking this week, or maybe they’re younger and they’re thinking about their future and this plays out in decisions they make that will lead toward that end. Pray that you send out laborers right now, into your harvest field, as I think about the Tajik people and Uzbekistan; 1.5 million of them. Most of them have never even heard the gospel. God, would you change that because of this prayer right now? Would you cause laborers to go into that harvest field from this prayer? We pray for among the Tajik and Uzbekistan, or thousands of other people, groups like them.
God, may not be said of us, that when we heard your word and the leadership of your spirit, we rose to flee from what your word and your spirit were telling us to do, from where your word and your spirit would telling us to go. Help us to be obedient.
God, keep us. Save us from being Jonah-like in this way. Send us wherever you desire us to go, in whatever way you desire us to live. Today, this week, in every facet of our lives, help us to be obedient. In the long run, Oh God, spend our lives in obedience to your word and your spirit, for your glory, for the spread of your gospel and your grace through our lives.
We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Throughout the fall, we are following the McLean Bible Church Reading Plan. You can access the reading plan here.