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. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the LORD. – Jonah 1:1-3 (ESV)
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 35
Q. 35. What is sanctification?
A. Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.