Backsliding from God’s plan has consequences. Repentance paves the way back!
“ But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare, and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.” Jonah 1:3.
The LORD had a unique plan and purpose in Jonah’s life. He came to Jonah and said to go to Nineveh and preach there because the people in Nineveh were evil and wicked. But not heeding the word of the LORD, the prophet Jonah disobeyed and ran away from the presence of the LORD. When he started disobeying God, it appeared everything was favorable for him for a while. He went down to Joppa. He found a ship that was ready to go to Tarshish. He had the money for the trip. So he paid the fare and got into the ship. He went down inside the ship and found a very comfortable and quiet place to rest and sleep.
All looked good for a while. My beloved, This is how backsliding from the plan of God and running away from God feels to many. The story of the prodigal son, Jesus said, who ran away from the Father’s house also was excited to go away from his loving father’s home. All looked good and no problem he could see on the horizon. Jonah went down to the lowest chamber of the ship and felt safe and secure. Nobody would take note of him and notice him in the lowest room, he must have thought. But didn’t he know he is in the sight and presence of the Lord no matter where he is? Bible says God keeps watching us continuously. Psalm 121:8, “The LORD keeps watching over you as you come and go, both now and forever.” He not only watches the paths of the Godly one but He also keeps watching the evil and the wicked. Proverbs 15:3 says “The LORD is watching everywhere, keeping his eye on both the evil and the good.” Psalm 139 says we cannot get away from His presence and we cannot hide from Him.
Jonah is at the bottom chamber of the ship lying down and sleeping with no apparent problems and issues. But the LORD sent a powerful wind on the sea, and there was a great storm on the sea so that the ship was about to break up. (vs. 4). Did you notice it says the LORD sent a mighty wind and the ship was about to break? You know running away from the presence of the LORD seemed comfortable for a while, but to face the consequences, pay its prices, and coming back to the presence of the LORD was not easy at all. Beloved, are you running away from the LORD? Are you in a backslide lifestyle and experience? You see when we disobey the LORD, it affects other people as well. They were all afraid in the ship because of the powerful storm, and the pagan people in the ship threw Jonah into the sea to make the sea calm because of his disobedience to the living LORD in heaven. He ended up in the depth of the sea and then in the belly of a great fish. There he cried to the LORD for help. In such a dangerous and hopeless situation he came to his sense and understood only the LORD could save and deliver him.
The disobedience to God always makes people go down and down and down. The obedience to the LORD brings blessings and disobedience to Him brings punishments and curses, according to Deuteronomy 28 in the Bible. Now Jonah was in a hopeless situation and only God who made heaven and earth could help him to come out of. He repented and cried out to God for help from the depth of the sea and belly of the fish. We wonder at the fantastic Grace of the LORD toward us when we cry out to the LORD for help. The LORD heard his prayer even from the depth and belly of the great fish and delivered him.
Jonah 3:1 says the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time and God used him to go and preach in the city of Nineveh and the people in that whole wicked city repented and turned to God, and the LORD changed His mind and did not destroy the evil city because of their repentance from their sins and wicked ways.
Had he obeyed the LORD for the first time, he did not have to face the severe and harmful consequences of disobedience, right? Is this not a solemn warning to all of us?
If you are running away from God, He has a beautiful and wonderful plan for your life. Repent now and turn to Him and pray. He will save and deliver you. He is the God of Jonah. No matter where you are, how far you are away, you cry. And repentance will make it all good again.
Got a moment for today’s prayer? Father in heaven, Please have mercy on me and save me today. I am sorry for my sins. I come to you and accept your call to believe in your Son who came to this earth, died, and rose again for my sins. Please save me and deliver me. In Jesus Christ’s name, I pray. Amen.”