REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional was first posted on July 1, 2014.
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“The Art of Disobeying God”
Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” 3 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. 4 But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up.
As a prophet in Israel (2 Kings 14:25), Jonah’s life revolved around familiarity and obedience to God’s will. So when the Word of the Lord came to him, this was nothing new. Yet, instead of saying yes to God, Jonah bought a ticket for Tarshish, which was in the opposite direction of Nineveh. Clearly visible in Jonah’s reaction is the ultimate outcome of disobedience: “Jonah rose to flee . . . from the presence of the Lord.” Disobedience is deadly because it drives us away from God, whether we intend it to (as Jonah did) or not.
While it was a potentially life-threatening call to rebuke the city of Nineveh (who committed atrocities against Israel), which Jonah refused to obey, my own disobediences come in smaller and more numerous areas. How many times have I skipped my devotions because I’m “busy”? There have been numerous times I would crank up the music on my iPod when I felt God’s conviction to pray for a stranger on the subway. The call to love, to forgive, to be patient have been disobeyed more than I can count.
It’s easy to paint Jonah as the villain for this disobedience, but when I stack all of mine, both in action and thought, then I might be considered vile at best, for I have mastered the art of disobeying God. Yet in verse 4, we are given hope. It says, “The Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea.” This may seem like punishment, but it is God’s grace. True, it came in the shape of a storm, which is not pleasant, but the alternative is worse. God could have simply given up on Jonah.
This is the encouragement we have when our disobedience separates us from God. He pursues us relentlessly.
Do you feel far from God? Maybe it’s pointing to areas of God’s will you have been disobeying? This morning, God wants to show you how relentlessly He’s pursuing you because of His love. He’s asking you to remember His goodness: Say yes to Him, and be restored into a right relationship.
Prayer: God, I want more of Your presence in my life. Forgive me for running away from You. Remind me of Your vast love that pursues me, and may that give me the strength to say yes to You again and again. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: 2 Corinthians 5
Lunch Break Study
Re-read the passage given for this morning’s devotion.
Job 38:34-5: [God tells Job] “Can you raise your voice to the clouds and cover yourself with a flood of water? 35 Do you send the lightning bolts on their way? Do they report to you, ‘Here we are’”?
Questions to Consider
- What is the significance of Nineveh?
- In verse 2, God tells Jonah to “arise” (Quwm), and in verse 3 it says that Jonah rose (Quwm) to flee. Immediately, it says that he went down (Yarad) to Joppa and down (Yarad) the ship. What image is the author trying to paint for us?
- What has God revealed concerning Himself through the sending of the storm?
- Nineveh was the capital Assyria. The Assyrians conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel in 722 BC, at least 30 years after the events of this book.
- The word “arise” is often used to connote the taking of action. In the beginning of Jonah, his actions of disobedience brought him spiritually lower.
- He revealed His power and control over nature, His desire for Nineveh to hear His word, and His great desire to use Jonah.
As you reflect on your day, it may have been filled with complete obedience or many moments of running away. Before the day is done, listen to God’s heart that calls for us to be with Him. Are there areas in your life that He’s calling you to examine? Is there a deeper calling for His presence in your life? Reflect and respond to Him.