Jonah 1:3 “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.”
We all know this story don’t we? Unfortunately most of the telling of this story centers around the wrong theme. This is not a tale of a whale or any other large sea creature. It’s not even a story about Jonah’s foolishness as foolish as he was. Major theme of Jonah is that repentance brings forgiveness. Keep that in mind as we move through the book. It will explain why Jonah wound up on dry land instead of the depths of the sea. It will also explain Jonah’s anger.
Tarshish was in the opposite direction of Nineveh. Jonah didn’t just seek to avoid Nineveh by going west instead of east, he sought the farthest distance from those people and God as he could locate. Jonah was headed to the end of the world which shows that he, like many today, fail to understand who God is. For some reason many in Israel thought that God was limited to the Holy Land. Putting limits on God is a terrible blunder. He has no limits except those He imposes upon Himself.
You have to have a warped view of God to want to flee His presence. God is good and gives of His goodness willingly. People are still trying to hide from Him and have the same result as Jonah had. The difference is that Jonah repented and they aren’t. You can’t escape God by saying He doesn’t exist, which is a kind of Tarshish. You can’t escape God by thinking that if you can’t see Him, then He can’t see you.
Task for Today: Do you have a Tarshish in mind? I hope not. Tarshish as a refuge from God is a myth. There is no escape from His presence. Are you a Jonah or a Samuel? One ran from God and one ran to Him. Jonah, Nineveh and you will be saved by repentance in the presence of God, not hiding but obeying.