Jonah 1:1–6 ‘But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port.’ (v3)

Jonah certainly has a bad reputation as a disobedient and grumpy prophet who fails to go where he is told to go and is angry with God when his warning is heeded by the people.

This verse has him heading in exactly the opposite direction (Tarshish was likely in modern-day Spain).

His reputation may be deserved: if your role is to be God’s spokesman, you don’t get to decide your itinerary or write your own speech.

But this prophecy functions in the Old Testament as a mirror for the whole of Israel, none of whom would have disagreed with Jonah’s decision.

The Ninevites were Assyrians and, if there was a league table for nasty evils committed against their war victims, they were amongst the worst.

Jonah was fearful that God might be compassionate to people he regarded as monsters, and the people of Israel were fearful of the nation that would eventually lead the northern tribes into exile.

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God also has in mind mercy towards people we don’t especially like. Today He sends us all to share His news of love and grace to all peoples, regardless of their reputation.

Maybe there’s a neighbour, a cousin, a colleague or an anti-social stranger we don’t feel especially warm to.

Some who, like Jonah we wouldn’t want to receive mercy! Like Jonah we may be tempted to head in the opposite direction.

God has in mind a heart change that understands the mercy we have received and looks to share the good news of God’s love.

So, you might want to be careful before you point the finger at dear old Jonah.


A Prayer To Make:
Lord, I want to distance myself from those I dislike. Give me Your love for them, that I may seek their good. Amen.

An Action To Take:
Think about those who might be the modern equivalent of the Ninevites and lift them to God.

Scripture To Consider:
2 Kgs 14:21–25; Nahum 3:1–19; Luke 9:51–56; 1 Pet. 4:7–11

Micha Jazz is Director of Resources at Waverley Abbey, UK.