“I’ll take ‘Places in Jonah’ for $1000, Alex.”
“The answer is ‘Of Nineveh, Tarshish, and Joppa, it’s the one closest to Jerusalem.’ “
So how did you do? Lose $1000? Don’t feel bad. Most Bible readers have little if any idea where the Old Testament cities and villages are located. It’s probably not important anyway. Or is it?
Most Old Testament readers place Bible cities somewhere in the Middle East. But look at this map. Tarshish is at the southern end of Spain, and Nineveh is in the northern part of present-day Iraq.
The Bible tells us Jonah was commanded by God to go to Nineveh but went to Joppa to book passage on a ship to Tarshish. Wow! Jonah planned to get as far away from Nineveh as possible, and Tarshish was that destination.
I have no idea how long that trip would have taken. Months? Sometimes when things don’t seem to be working out, there may be a mental tug to physically make a change. You may know someone who moved from one coast to the other to start over with a career or their personal life. You may be that person. It’s not always wrong to relocate unless you’re trying to run away from God’s plan for your life.
Did Jonah think God would not be in Tarshish? Jonah never found out. His disobedience led to a storm that endangered his life and the lives of the others onboard. You know the story. Jonah was thrown into the ocean and ended up being swallowed by a great fish. Three days later he was vomited up onto a beach.
It is rumored that from that point forward Jonah refused to vacation on a cruise ship. Ask your pastor. 😊
The point of all this is when God asks us to step up it’s not time to step away. We can relocate or just change churches, but God will not stop his pursuit.
That darn free will sounds like a good deal until it gets into a tug of war with God’s sovereign will. Jonah finally gave in and warned the citizens of Nineveh about God’s coming judgment. What do I need to give in to? How about you? Tarshish sounds like a great place to start over until we find ourselves in the belly of a fish.