I will say, “Salvation comes from the Lord.” Jonah 2:9
“I fled Him, down the nights and down the days,” opens the famous poem “The Hound of Heaven” by English poet Francis Thompson. Thompson describes Jesus’ unceasing pursuit—despite his efforts to hide, or even run away, from God. The poet imagines God speaking to him and saying, “I am He whom thou seekest!”
The pursuing love of God is a central theme of the book of Jonah. The prophet received an assignment to tell the people of Nineveh (notorious enemies of Israel) about their need to turn to God, but instead “Jonah ran away from the Lord” (Jonah 1:3). He secured passage on a ship sailing in the opposite direction of Nineveh, but the vessel was soon overcome by a violent storm. To save the ship’s crew, Jonah was thrown overboard before being swallowed by a large fish (1:15–17).
In his own beautiful poem, Jonah recounted that despite his best efforts to run away from God, God pursued him. When Jonah was overcome by his situation and needed to be saved, he cried out to God in prayer and turned toward His love (2:2, 8). God answered and provided rescue not only for Jonah, but for his Assyrian enemies as well (3:10).
As described in both poems, there may be seasons of our lives when we try to run from God. Even then Jesus loves us and is at work guiding us back into restored relationship with Him (1 John 1:9).
When have you tried to run from God? How did He provide rescue?
Jesus, thank You for lovingly pursuing me to offer rescue.
Prophets Jonah, Hosea, and Amos ministered to the Northern Kingdom of Israel when Jeroboam II was king (782–753 bc). Although Jeroboam was unfaithful, God still helped him to successfully push the Assyrians out of Israel (2 Kings 14:23–28). When God called Jonah to minister to Nineveh, a city in Assyria, Jewish nationalistic zeal was running high. Jonah initially refused to proclaim a message of salvation to an enemy nation (Jonah 1:1–3). When he finally obeyed, the Assyrians repented (3:6–10), and God relented from punishing them (4:1–2). But the repentance of the Assyrians was short-lived. Soon a resurgent Assyria attacked Israel (2 Kings 15:19–20, 29). Within three decades of Jonah, Assyria destroyed the Northern Kingdom of Israel (722 bc) and advanced menacingly towards Judah (2 Kings 17:1–6; 18:9–12). God then raised up Nahum who prophesied against Nineveh, proclaiming her inevitable downfall (Nahum 1:1; 2:3–10; 3:1–7).
Visit ChristianUniversity.org/jonahnahum to learn more about the prophet Jonah.