Jonah’s story revolves around the sea, but of course, it starts on land. Ancient Israel had a coastline on the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea. God wanted Jonah to go east, to Nineveh, but instead he bought a ticket on a ship going as far west as possible, to a city all the way on the other end of the Mediterranean Sea.
Jonah ran from what God wanted him to do. He didn’t want to preach to the brutal people of Nineveh. As we’ll see in chapter 4, Jonah didn’t run because he was afraid that they might hurt him as he gave God’s message; he was afraid that God’s mercy would challenge how he viewed and treated the people of Nineveh.
In chapter 1 we see three important things: the Lord, Jehovah, is the God of Heaven, who made the sea and dry land (verse 9); God sees all mankind, not just his chosen people, and he has a heart for all people (verse 1); and God sees us no matter where we go (verse 4).
Jonah tried to run from God. It didn’t work, of course. But what was the result? Verse 16 tells us that the ship’s crew worshiped God. Even though Jonah disobeyed God and threw an entire crew into panic, God turned it around for his glory, and those men came to know God in a way they hadn’t before.
God’s plan was for Jonah to preach to Nineveh, but God didn’t neglect the men Jonah met along the way.
Who has God put in your life that needs to hear the truth about God, the truth that God loves them and wants to offer them eternal life through Christ Jesus?