What can we learn from the runaway prophet? – a look at Jonah the preacher

When God told Jonah to go preach to Nineveh, he fled and went to Tarshish.

Jonah Copitc Icon

Jonah Copitc Icon

Why did Jonah choose Tarshish as his destination? Because this city was thought to be towards the end of the earth – he literally went as far away as possible. It was unwise of Jonah to think that he could escape the presence of God for in Psalm 139:7-10 it says: Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.But let’s not judge our friend Jonah, for he was the only prophet at the time that God sent to go witness to a pagan country and, more importantly, don’t we do the same thing. We have been called for a great commission:

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”(Matthew 28:18-20)

Despite Jonah’s deliberate disobedience, fear and rebellious nature, God used Jonah. So, what can we learn from the way that Jonah preached?

Keep it Simple

When he preached, his main message was to repent – direct and straight to the heart of the matter. Somehow, we are surprised that this would work. We often feel that we have to convince, or almost trick, people into believing. But Jonah’s approach bore fruit: “the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them” (Jonah 3:5).

We are called to be witnesses not lawyers. We have eyes and ears that have heard, tasted and seen that the Lord is good (psalm 33). There is no need to over complicate. Our duty is simply to proclaim what we know, what we have experienced. Jesus said to the man whom he healed, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you” (Mark 5:19).

Move out of your comfort zone

So, what else can we learn from Jonah. “From street to street he went, sounding the note of warning” (Prophets & Kings, p 270, E. G. White); he took the message to them, instead of waiting for them to come and hear it. We must step out of our comfort zones, and out of our bubbles, and not wait for a whale to move us into action. Start shining like the city upon a hill that God intended you to be.

Be diligent

We must learn from Jonah’s diligence. All indications are that Jonah worked hard, not sparing himself in order to assure the giving of a complete warning. With divine assistance, he reached 120,000 people (Jonah 4:11). What was probably the most poorly planned evangelistic campaign in history, or nearly so, turned out to be one of the most successful. So, let us not over think or over plan and let the Holy Spirit guide us to move and take action and, like Joshua, let the Word of God never depart from our lips.


We just don’t believe the Lord can or will work for us in saving lost sinners. We just don’t believe that the Lord will use us. Deep down inside we think that our efforts are a big waste of time. Oh we of little faith! God said that His Word would NOT return unto Him void (Isaiah 55:11), and that it would accomplish the purpose for which He sent it.

God’s plan was to bless the Nations: God’s plan was always to bring blessing to the whole world – not just Israel, and not just to our church. In his promises to Abraham, God said the whole world would be blessed, even if Israel couldn’t see it.

‘at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.’ Philippians 2:10-11

“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9)

Monica Boughdady