Jonah, however, got up and fled to Tarshish, away from the presence of the LORD. He went down to Joppa and found a ship bound for Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went aboard to sail for Tarshish, away from the presence of the LORD.
I. THE MOTIVES THAT IMPELLED HIM TO FLIGHT. We cannot know all that prevailed with him. If we knew just where the call found him, and "the spirit of his mind," then we might be less surprised at his flight. Had he been "restraining prayer"? yielding to self-indulgence? or falling to the idolatry of his own judgment - confident that he knew his own powers, what he could best do, where best labour? not in all things seeking that higher wisdom which is our only safe and unerring guidance? Anyway, such a man as Jonah falls only by little and little. There are many steps to reach a spiritual catastrophe. Let us be warned, then, against the first steps, however secret, that lead from God. Among the things that wrongly influenced him to flight we may suppose:
1. The novelty of the work. To be a prophet to a heathen people, to go to them as God's messenger, was striking into a new line of duty. How different from work in Israel amid familiar surroundings!
2. It was work afar off, involving a long journey of several hundred miles. Those, too, were days of slow travelling, and Jonah too, perhaps, a poor traveller.
3. The difficulties of the work would only be beginning when Nineveh was reached. That he, a solitary man, a foreigner, should, in that city of insolent pride and pitiless violence, denounce judgment upon it, was indeed a stupendous work - something to do and to shrink from.
4. His little success at home was not encouraging. Jeroboam may have been quickened by his prophecies to military effort and victories, but Jeroboam was still an idolater. And idolaters, as a whole, were his people. What can Jonah expect, then, in Nineveh?
5. But if the Ninevites repented, then (for they would surely be saved) Jonah would be discredited. "He had foretold doom, and, lo! deliverance."
6. Why should Nineveh, Israel's enemy, be spared? All the small blind patriot in Jonah kindled into revolt against the work to which he was bidden. Let Nineveh perish! And have we no excuses for flight from duty? Such a novel work, or so new to us! So far away from all our experiences! Beset with countless difficulties! Amid dangers, too, perhaps! And little likelihood of success in it! Must the work be done? Then others must do it] Excuses may be many, valid reasons there can be none, for neglecting the duty which God bids us to do.
II. THE FAVOURABLE-SEEMING CHARACTER OF CIRCUMSTANCES IN JONAH'S FLIGHT. He left Gath-hepher; went down to the coast. No accident stopped him. In Joppa no illness delayed him. The sea was peaceful. He found just the ship he wished, and bound whither he desired. There was room for him on board. He had money enough for the passage; "so he paid the fare." He went aboard. What could be better? Not into the book of providence must we look to know the right way from the wrong. In themselves, prosperity is no proof of the Divine favour, nor adversity of the Divine displeasure. We have a "sure word" to guide us. And had Jonah tested his conduct by God's word, he would have known, in spite of all that seemed favourable, that he was going "the way of transgressors." Have you success in wrong? It is none the less wrong. Things are not really, permanently favourable if God is unfavourable. Are we right with him? Then all things, storm as well as shine, shall be right with us. "Even the night shall be light about us."
III. JONAH'S SPIRITUAL DEGRADATION IN FLIGHT FROM DUTY. "He went down to Joppa." Literally, down from the mountains of Zebulun, down to Joppa, and, having secured his berth, "down into it." Spiritually, how he had been going down! Down from his moral elevation as a prophet. Down from the heights of fellowship. Down from the highlands of peace. Down from Divine service in which he had been as "upon the top of the mountains." Down, ever less noble, beautiful, Divine! Men may "go up" in society, wealth, local influence, and yet morally be going down. By every act of duty done we ascend; by each neglected we morally descend. Having the Word of the Lord, may we have his Spirit too, that daily we may cheerfully respond to the heavenly voice that says, "Come up higher"! - G.T.C.
But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
2. The exceeding danger of a mood of hesitation or remonstrance. We should watch with great self-jealousy the moral hesitations of the will, and the silent petitionings for delay or exemption. All such heart movements are fraught with peril. Divine light is given for "walking" and "working." In most, if not all of the critical moments of life, duty is revealed very quickly, and made very plain and clear. In matters of expediency and prudence, wait for the afterthoughts. In matters of conscience and present duty, take the first thoughts that arise, for they are the Divinest. Happy is he whose action is as quick as the impulse that calls for it! whose daily obedience has in it the fresh colours of newborn convictions! whose feet sound the echo of God's "Arise"!
(A. Raleigh, D. D.)
1. The arduousness of the duty may have been one cause of the sin. He shrank from the service because of the hardships he supposed to be involved in it. He thought of the journey; of the probable reception of his message by the Ninevites; and of possible violence done to himself by them. If God calls to arduous duty, He is prepared to give all needed grace for doing it.
2. The mortification of his own vanity. God's mercy and forbearance on repentance Jonah feared would be a personal dishonour to him as a prophet. Rather than subject himself to the possibility of such mortification Jonah chose to decline the duty altogether. This motive argues a painful obtuseness of right human feelings. Learn —
1. In the prosecution of arduous and self-denying duties to seek the help of God, and not throw off our responsibilities by shunning them. Responsibility can only be met by the conscientious discharge of duty. Human nature often shrinks, as Jonah did, from this duty, but let us be faithful to God, and depend on Him for strength and blessing.
2. And let us discharge all our obligations to our fellew-men from a sincere desire to benefit them and please God. Let us not mingle personal vanity with any of our religious endeavours, nor be too anxious about our fame and reputation. Our record is on high, our judgment is with our God.
1. It was a long way.
2. The thing to be done was very difficult.
3. It would be natural that he should despair of any great success.
4. He may have thought that, in the event of attaining a spiritual success, failure must come in another way. His own reputation would suffer. Over-consciousness of personal character, and over-carefulness for the Divine honour, were not of old, are not now so very uncommon.
5. The prophet had some dark forecast of evil to his own country from the probable turn which matters would take, if his mission at Nineveh should be successful. We cannot pass any severe and overwhelming judgment on Jonah. There is too much reason to fear that his kind of disobedience is not at all uncommon. Far oftener than many suppose, great and gifted spirits have shrunk back from great responsibilities. See cases of Moses, Gideon, etc.
(A. Raleigh, D. D.)
I. THE SCORNED MESSAGE OF MERCY. The prophet was the recipient of a Divine message. He was to declare to the people of Nineveh their sins, and summon them to repentance. This should have been an acceptable and agreeable duty. Why should Jonah have closed his ear against the Divine Word, shut up his heart against compassion for Nineveh, and fled from his duty? The answer uncovers at once God's compassion and Jonah's sin. Jonah's fault lay in narrowing the compassion of Jehovah, and exaggerating the claims of the chosen people. His pride of race overrode his humanity; his sectarian zeal consumed his charity.
1. What shall we say of one who refuses to enter upon a work of salvation such as this? Jonah sinned against God and humanity.
2. If we seek downward for the tap-root of Jonah's fault, where do we find it? In false views of God's nature.
3. There are still men and women — good but misguided people — who hold that the salvation of God is limited to their Church. In the light of Jonah's story, we may regard all such people with sincere pity, even while we condemn their presumptuous bigotry.
II. THE SINNER PURSUED BY GOD. If God is com passionate, He is also just. He pities Nineveh, but He punishes Jonah. He pursues the offending prophet with a rod of judgment. If we suppose that Jonah's sleep was one of self-security, we may imagine the sharp awakening to the sad truth of his condition.
III. A VERDICT OF THE SELF-CONDEMNED. The behaviour of the ship's crew at the climax of the storm presents an interesting study. We are insensibly drawn to these rough pagan mariners. We respect their manhood, we praise their virtues, we pity their gropings after truth and duty, and long that they and such as they might have knowledge of the one sufficient atonement for sin. We are drawn with even tenderer sympathy to Jonah. He stands there on the tossing deck, self-condemned indeed, but his whole attitude is noble. His fault has risen upon him at once in its full magnitude. He neither denies nor extenuates it; he confesses it fully, and he offers himself in atonement therefor. No wonder that the sailors, profoundly touched by Jonah's act, struggled to the verge of hope ere they could find heart to sacrifice this man.
1. We see here a wonderful illustration of the force of conscience when it is once awakened within the breast.
2. We have here a fine example of the operation of a genuine repentance. What must have beer the influence of this experience upon Jonah's after preaching?
IV. BURIAL IN THE DEEP. The miracle consisted not so much in the fact that Jonah was swallowed alive, as that he was kept alive within the fish for three days. We must place this miracle upon the same footing as other Scripture miracles. Our Lord teaches that this burial and resurrection was a sign of His own burial and resurrection (Matthew 12:40, 41).
(Henry C. M'Cook, D. D.)
Sermons by Monday Club.Jonah must have been a contemporary, or near successor, of Elisha.
I. HIS DISOBEDIENCE AND FLIGHT FROM GOD'S PRESENCE. All men at least try to believe that they have good reasons for their disobedience. What was Jonah's? Told in John4:2. It was thought that God was specially present in Israel. If he left the country he would not be at hand to be sent on missions. His fleeing was a way of resigning his prophetic office. Have none of us ever done as Jonah did? When God calls to service or duty, do we never go another way? How easy to fancy that, by some means, we can escape the Divine presence!
II. HIS ARREST AND EXPOSURE. Thus far all had seemed to go well with the renegade prophet. For a time the Lord allowed him to have his way. And so He does with us all. If one chooses to run from duty, to decline service, to defer obedience, God does not ordinarily interpose to prevent his doing it. The downward way
is commonly broad and smooth for a time. But, happily for us, God often finds means for the arrest of the disobedient. In the case of the fleeing prophet, He made use of the tempest. All sorts of persons pray in those great emergencies, which prove to us how utterly powerless we are. There is a feeling, which seems native to the human heart, that behind all physical ills there is a moral cause. Troubles come out of sin. These seamen, imagining, as it is so common to imagine, that unusual calamity is proof of unusual guilt, jumped to the conclusion that their present peril was due to the presence of some flagrant wrong-doer. They thought that, by means of the lot, the culprit might be detected. The lot fell on Jonah. In so unlikely a way his sin had found him out.
III. HIS CONFESSION AND SURRENDER. Crowding about this mysterious stranger, the questions of the sailors fell fast and thick. They wanted to have his whole story. Jonah made frank and full confession. There was no self-justification, but a declaration that God is to be reverenced and feared. And he put himself into God's hands. Understanding, as a prophet, that only by casting him into the sea could the tempest be stayed, he humbly, submissively, bowed his will to God's. It is precisely that spirit of penitence and trust which ever marks one as a sure subject of that mercy which, whatever befalls the body, saves the soul unto the life ever lasting.
IV. HIS CHASTISEMENT AND PRESERVATION. It is clear that Jonah's conduct had won the respect of the seamen, and touched their hearts. They would save him if they could. Jonah's preaching and conduct had convinced them of the true faith; for soon we find them offering sacrifice and making vows unto the Lord. True penitence does not save from present and outward ills. The forgiven still need correction, Note the blending of the providential and the miraculous in the story. Having brought a self-willed servant to account and repentance, and administered needed correction, it was the Lord's will to restore Jonah to the place he had deserted. The chief practical lesson is the great folly of attempting to escape the service or duty to which God may call us. To obey is easier than to flee. There are crosses and hardships in the way of obedience, but they are far lighter than those which are sure to overtake unbelief and self-will.
(Sermons by Monday Club.)
(Matthew M. Preston, M. A.)
(T. T. Carter.)I. WHAT WAS THE REASON FOR THIS FLIGHT? The cause of disobedience is to be found in the significance of God's message to the prophet. It was a message of judgment, and yet, underlying it, as Jonah easily perceived, was a message of mercy. It taught Jonah, and through him the Jews generally, that God had a grand purpose of love and mercy to the Gentiles as well as the Jews. Such a thought as that was utterly opposed to Jewish ideas. Jonah's conduct is but the representation of the whole national feeling. Jonah wanted the Ninevites and all other Gentiles to fall under the judgment of God, and to be destroyed from the face of the earth. This was the reason for his flight. Let us beware lest we should find his sin lying at our door. God taught the same lesson to Peter when the times of the Gentiles had fully come. We are now learning the lesson that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is God's message of love to no one nation, or select few, but to every member of the human family.
II. WHAT WAS THE OBJECT OF JONAH'S FLIGHT? Not to flee from the omniscience of God. The object of Jonah was to escape from standing before God as His prophet. He regarded the revelation and voice of God as in some way confined to Jewish territory. Though we, too, know that we cannot escape from the presence of God, we often fancy we can fly where the voice of God shall not be heard by us. When God calls men to go in one direction, and they like it not, immediately they set out to go in directly the opposite.
III. THE SUCCESSIVE STEPS OF JONAH'S FLIGHT.
1. He went down to Joppa. His journey was downward in more senses than one.
2. He found a ship, and paid his fare to Tarshish. Is there not quite a parable in that paying the fare? It was the last barrier that kept him a prisoner to his native land. Now he thinks he is secure.
3. He falls asleep. He is tired out. No obstacles have been placed in his way. It seems as if everything had been providentially arranged. Yes, Jonah, thou sleepest, but God sleeps not. Now God will have a beginning.
(R. A. Bedford, M. A.)
1. He rose up to flee from the presence of the Lord.
2. The fugitive from duty was degraded before his inferiors. Jonah's flight subjected him to the reproofs, examinations, and cross-examinations of heathen sailors.
3. Jonah, no doubt, suffered much at the near prospect of death.
4. His misery was prolonged in a living tomb.
5. The fugitive from duty had to do at length the work he first refused. When man contends with his Maker we may be certain who will be the victor. That Jonah needed much refining in the furnace of affliction is evident from the dross which remained after correction. Perhaps the Word of the Lord was never entrusted to a frailer earthen vessel. After Jonah had passed through the painful and humiliating punishments of disobedience, we find him still in a deplorable state of mind, and using most unbecoming language to God. Jonah should have known that when punishments are denounced as coming upon a nation, it is with the understanding that they continued in their sin. If both Jew and Gentile were acquainted with mercy as one of the glorious attributes of Jehovah, where was the room for Jonah's displeasure? But what Jonah did, we are all capable of doing, if not prevented by Divine grace. There are those who fly from duty, because pride hinders them from pursuing their most suitable calling, those who intrude into sacred places for which they were never designed; and generally, the unconverted.
I. HIS DISOBEDIENT ACT WAS WILFUL. It was not done without deliberation. It was not done without breaking through moral restraints. Jonah had a stern battle to fight with the checks of conscience and the promptings of his better nature. Through a whole "bodyguard" of moral influences, monitions, voices, hindrances, Jonah had to cut his way to Joppa for Tarshish. This made his act of disobedience all the more criminally wilful. The harder the path to ruin the greater the guilt and punishment.
II. THE ACT WAS FOOLISH. He attempted —
1. The impossible. The Presence like an all-encompassing atmosphere hemmed him in — beyond it he could not get. God meets man inevitably at every turn of life.
2. He abandoned the indispensable. He thought he could do without God, and so ventured on the mad experiment. God is a necessity.
3. He undertook the unmanageable. In fleeing from God, he flew in the face of God. In trying to escape Him, he came into collision with Him. No man is sufficient for such an engagement. How foolish is all sin! Disobedience is moral mania.
III. HIS ACT WAS ENCOURAGED BY OPPORTUNE CIRCUMSTANCES. He "found a ship going to Tarshish." The accidental favoured the intentional. It so happened that the ship was freighted for Tarshish, and Jonah came on the quay just in time to pay his fare and get on board. Don't blame the ship, but blame the prophet. Don't censure the opportunities, but censure the disposition which seized and made them auxiliaries of evil intentions. Occasion for sin is no Divine warrant to sin.
1. Circumstances are rendered moral or immoral in their bearing on human actions, only as they further goodness or facilitate disobedience.
2. Opportunities in the way of transgression are accidental and not Divinely appointed, which if availed of to accelerate rebellious flight will entail heavier penal consequences.
3. The ready way is not always the right way.
IV. THE ACT WAS EXPENSIVE. He might have gone down to Nineveh for less than it cost him to go to Tarshish. He paid his fare in a very expensive sense. It cost him his peace of mind, his conscience approval, his official honour, mortification of spirit, risk of life, and peril of soul. As a mere matter of economy it is wiser and better to be good than sinful. Sin's pleasures, sin's fashions, sin's companions, sin's vanities are all prodigiously expensive.
(J. O. Keen, D. D.)
I. IT IS A VERY EASY THING TO NEGLECT CHRISTIAN DUTY. All that Jonah did was easily done. So are neglect of prayer, Bible study, services, work, etc., easy now.
II. NEGLECT OF CHRISTIAN DUTY IS A MOST DANGEROUS PRACTICE. Jonah went to Tarshish at the peril of his temporal and spiritual life. Every Christian who allows himself to be led away into bypaths of spiritual indolence, lethargy, and neglect, will suffer great loss, will imperil his soul.
III. IT IS NOT FOR US TO CHOOSE OUR FIELD OF CHRISTIAN WORK. God sent Jonah to preach a short soul-stirring sermon to the Ninevites. How much more would be done if all Christians would just take the field God assigns them, and work with all their hearts for God and Souls.
IV. THE INFINITE FOLLY OF ATTEMPTING TO GET AWAY FROM THE PRESENCE OF GOD. "Whither shall I go from Thy presence?" The monarch who threw chains into the sea to bind it; the boys who undertook to count the stars; these were wise adventures compared with the folly of attempting to get away from God. Then "let us not sleep, as do others, but let us who are of the day be sober."
He found a ship going to TarshishI. ATTEND TO THE WHOLE OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES CONCERNED. By partial and distorted views the most magnificent objects may be rendered contemptible, and the most perfect propriety ridiculous.
1. In this world the wicked often succeed, while the righteous are involved in distress. If any man be exempted from trouble in the present state, we should expect it to be a wicked man. The present is, with respect to the wicked, the only season of forbearance, the only time of indulgence. If any labour under a peculiar series of sufferings, we should expect him to be a saint. Because the present is, to the believer, a state of discipline. We cannot, however, conclude either that all the afflicted are righteous, or that it is only the tabernacle of the robber that prospers.
2. All the success of the wicked is confined to external objects. It would be affectation to say that man is independent of these.
3. The success of the wicked is but momentary. Duration is an important measure of value.
4. The worst moral effects are produced by success on the conduct of the wicked. But consequences cannot always be considered as a Standard for regulating judgment.
5. The successful sinner would tremble did he look forward to the sufferings which must eventually overtake his crimes.
II. THE GROUNDS ON WHICH DIVINE WISDOM PROCEEDS IN SUCH DISPENSATIONS.
1. Previous to such trials the sinner is already warned of his danger in the Word. It is to this men are to look for a regulating law.
2. Such trials are seldom permitted until conscience has been grossly violated.
3. No external obstacle can stop the career of the sinner.
4. Abused grace is properly and justly withdrawn.
5. These scenes of trial discover to others the dispositions that were previously in power.
III. THE MARKS BY WHICH JUDICIAL MAY BE DISTINGUISHED FROM SANCTIFIED SUCCESS. If sanctified it follows you in a course of obedience to the Word. It is not a partial or incidental circumstance. It recognises God as its origin. The effects will show whence the prosperity proceeds.
I. LIFE HAS ITS GREAT OCCASIONS, AND WOE TO THE MAN WHO FAILS TO SUCCESSFULLY GRAPPLE WITH THEM. God signally honoured Jonah by selecting him as the first preacher to the heathen world. Human life does not always remain on the same key. Sometime, some where, God arrests the old monotonous tune, and strikes the keynote to a loftier anthem. Everything depends on how we catch the new tone, follow the leader, and master the music. How possible it is to be unequal to our opportunity, to let it pass unimproved, and to be doing a little paltry work, — to be mistaking fuss for energy, and an idle industry for that holy consecration which absorbs every power, and ennobles the man by the sublimity of its motives and aims. There are hours in the lives of most men, compared with which all after hours are poor and commonplace, — great critical hours, pregnant with the possibilities of manhood and destiny. To fall below such crises is a calamity which the future can never repair. Society is full of poor men, both temporally and spiritually, because they did not manfully grapple with the great occasions of life.
2. OPPORTUNE CIRCUMSTANCES DO NOT OF NECESSITY IMPLY DIVINE APPROVAL. Here we see that a man may be strangely favoured by circumstances, who is in open rebellion against God. Rightly to interpret circumstances is one of the most difficult things in life. And a man who has become loose at the conscience may so interpret them as to embolden and fortify himself in a life of sin. There are people who make circumstances into a kind of Bible, and argue that, after all, it is impossible they can be so very bad, or Providence would not thus conspire to further their purposes. When a man gets himself mixed up with iniquity, it is not much wonder that he tries to set up a kind of supernatural wisdom of his own, as a sort of self-vindication. It is quite possible for a man so to put circumstances before his mind as to be fearfully misled by them. Much charity should be exercised towards those whose very circumstances invite their further continuance in sin. Many a man has had reason to thank God that the ship left before he got to Joppa; that was the only thing that saved him from disaster and perhaps destruction.
III. A MAN MAY IGNORE THE CLAIMS OF GOD AND YET BE SCRUPULOUS IN HIS OBSERVANCE OF THE LAWS OF SOCIAL JUSTICE AND EQUITY. Jonah "paid his fare." Honest with the owner of the ship, but dishonest with the Owner of the universe. God has claims upon us as well as man: and any man's integrity is partial and ruinously defective that does not honour both claims..
IV. THE WICKED MAN IS A PUBLIC CALAMITY, A SOCIAL CURSE. No matter how much the sinner may have things his own way, God can head him off, frustrate his purposes, and convert the very elements that were most friendly to his progress into instruments of punishment and death. Learn that there is a right and a wrong way of settling things. We must have a settlement with God on a basis of mediation and righteousness, or the sea will always be rough.
Christian Age.God said to Jonah, "Go to Nineveh." "I won't go; I'll go to Tarshish." He started for Tarshish. Did he get there? The seas raged, the winds blew, the ship rocked. Come, ye whales, and take this passenger for Tarshish. No man ever got to Tarshish if the Lord told him to go to Nineveh. The seas would not bear him; they are God's seas. The winds would not waft him; they are God's winds. If a man deliberately sets out to do that which God declares he must not do, the natural world as well as God is against him and the lightnings are ready to strike him, and the fires are ready to consume him, and the sun is ready to smite him, and the waters are ready to drown him, and the earth is ready to devour him.
He paid the fare thereof
1. Accept this feature of the case as a starting-point. Obedience is economy; disobedience is expensive.
2. This was only a small part of the fare that Jonah paid. Only the first instalment. In the second place, he paid his fare in the thwarting of his purposes. He made more haste than speed. The ready way was not the right way. If you will be disobedient, you must pay your fare in the thwarting of your purposes.
3. As part of the fare the prophet had to pay for his disobedience. I mention his moodiness and peevishness.
4. Part of the fare was the withdrawal of Jehovah's presence.
5. He paid part of his fare in the loss of reputation. Regard to reputation was the only defence he made. Reputation may be overestimated, If the means is exalted into an end; if reputation becomes the be-all and end-all of the ministry, there is no limit to the harm that may accrue. For the sake of reputation Jonah declined tim call of God. And his disobedience was its own punishment.
(John A. Macfadyen.)
I. THE SACRIFICES REQUIRED OF THE SINNER. The boasted pleasure of the sinner is obtained at a very disproportioned expense of time — of labeler — and of substance: and moreover to it is freely sacrificed not only health, reason, conscience, but also the precious soul.
II. THE SACRIFICES REQUIRED OF THOSE WHO ARE THE FRIENDS OF RELIGION.
1. Religion does not require the renunciation of any lawful enjoyment.
2. Religion does require of its followers certain worldly sacrifices. Such as a seventh portion of time. Jehovah demands of all His worshippers —
3. The total surrender of their persons. Your talents, with all their energies; your will, with all its propensities; your affections, with all their fervour, are exclusively and supremely His. The members of the body too are become instruments of righteousness unto righteousness.
4. When sinners come to the Saviour they present Him with their most cheerful services.
5. The severest sacrifice that religion requires is that of our unholy desires. The service is severe, but the command is absolute.
III. COMPARE THESE SYSTEMS. Each has something to enjoy. The Christian needs not fear to grant to the sensualist his luxuries; or to acknowledge the general depression of the faithful. To ascertain the several claims of these systems observe —
1. That, while all the demands of religion are just, those of iniquity are the vexatious claims of a tryant.
2. The demands of religion are most gracious, whereas those of a tyrant are insatiable.
3. The services of religion are beneficial; those of the world destructive.
4. The sacrifices of religion shall be richly repaid. Sin also has its wages, and to the uttermost farthing they shall be paid. Choose then what master you will serve.Listen not —
1. To the seductions of pleasure.
2. Be not afraid of the reproaches cast upon religion.
3. Be truly wise. Listen to the cautions of Divine wisdom.
Homiletic Magazine.Jonah's attempt to run away was a foolish and wicked act, all must admit; but there is one thing told of him that is very much to his credit: he "paid his fare" on board the ship that was to bear him away to Tarshish. He fulfilled his obligations to the shipowners in the matter of the passage money He was none of your mean sneaks who, in running to destruction, try to go as dead-heads. Jonah went on his way like a man. How often, by some such reasoning as this, men make out a good case for themselves, or for others, in the face of flagrant and atrocious acts. Men use some single virtue to cover much wrong or vice. I know a young man who refused to obey the call of God, as clearly given as was ever that to Jonah, and is satisfying conscience by the assurance of honesty in a very different and self-appointed sphere. There is much of this Jonah business on every hand. Men are sharp in their dealings, even to rank dishonesty, but they talk well, and profess better. They cheat and shave right and left, but they found a scholarship or a seminary, endow a college, or build a church. They are helping to undermine every good institution in a community, but they are kind and obliging neighbours. Because the men that cheat, swindle, and murder us are possessed of some single excellent virtue, we are asked to set it over against their many nefarious acts and terrible failures in character and life, and call it even. Not that we would undervalue or despise the admirable traits that sometimes appear in wicked and debased lives. We only utter our protest against the attempt, so often made, to make them atone for the sin and failure by which they are surrounded. We are all liable to be satisfied with one little pet virtue, that blooms, perhaps, like a flower adorning a corpse. The way we help one another to this same self-complacency over small virtues cherished in the midst of flagrant wrong, is, perhaps, the worst part of the story.
Homiletic Review.Men get "passes" of railroads — all must pay the fare who go through life. Bible tells us there are two ways. You must pay the fare in either case.
I. BROAD WAY TO DESTRUCTION. Fare?
1. Loss of conscience.
2. Loss of character. Character is built up by thoughts, words, deeds, little by little.
3. Loss of Divine image.
4. Loss of soul. No escape. "The wages of sin is death."
II. NARROW WAY TO LIFE. Fare? Yes, we must pay the fare. The results are —
1. Noble character. God's building.
2. Uplifting influence. People respect.
3. Satisfaction. Duty done; clear conscience.
4. Gain Heaven. Two ways are before you; which one will you take?
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