The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” 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. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD. – Jonah 1:1-3
R. Reed Lessing writes:
Going to the fierce pagan Nineveh to preach is not a coveted assignment for a Hebrew prophet who likely enjoyed favor under the king of Israel, Jeroboam II. It appears that Jonah’s ministry was quite comfortable until Yahweh’s word came, directing him to arise and go to address the most violent people in the ancient Near East.
Jonah’s reaction is the opposite of the response of Moses, who repeatedly deflected Yahweh’s wrath against Israel by seeking grace and mercy for the people, even at the risk of his own life. Samuel also interceded when the Philistines marched against Israel. In 2 Kings 19:14-19 repentant Hezekiah’s prayer directed to Yahweh in the Holy of Holies leads to the retreat of the Assyrians. Jonah does no such thing on behalf of Nineveh. Instead of arising as Yahweh commands, he decides to go down to Joppa and into the ship. This movement downward is a movement toward death. As Rosemary Nixon states: “Although taken from a different context, the words of Democritus are an apt description of Jonah’s choice: ‘This is not really living poorly, it is dying slowly.’”
MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 70
Q. 70. Which is the seventh commandment?
A. The seventh commandment is, Thou shalt not commit adultery.