One of the first things readers notice in the book of Jonah is Jonah’s flight from God. “That’s silly Jonah! Don’t you know that you cannot hide from God?”
I think that Jonah does, in fact, know that he can’t physically hide from God.
[Jonah] answered them, “I’m a Hebrew. I worship the LORD, the God of the heavens, who made the sea and the dry land.”
— Jonah 1:9 (CSB)
Jonah knows Genesis 1. He knows that God is the creator of all things and that no one can truly hide from him. I don’t think that his flight from God was because he thought that God wouldn’t be able to see him.
But then this raises the question: why run at all?
Jonah is a mirror. The book is designed to show the people of God their flaws in Jonah’s sins. The book wouldn’t be a very effective mirror if the point was, “don’t physically run away from God.”
Instead, I think the book is using Jonah’s physical flight from God as a way to highlight the ways that we run from God.
We Run Because Honesty Is Hard
We run from God because approaching God requires honesty and humility. God exalts the humble and resists the proud (James 4:6). One of the most difficult things we can do is be honest with ourselves about our own sins. We are not good enough.
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Read and Reflect 📖
Wallace works through three commonly held beliefs among Christians about doubt that are actually untrue.
Myth #1: “Doubt is the opposite of faith and is actually unbelief.”
…While Abraham clearly had doubts about the Lord’s promises to him, Abraham was never considered by scripture to be an unbeliever. Instead, scripture treats Abraham as a great man of faith who experienced repeated moments of religious doubt. While doubts can lead to unbelief, the two are separate and distinct concepts which should not be mistaken for one another.
Myth #2: “Doubt shouldn’t be admitted or discussed since it is basically a character flaw.”
God wants honesty from us. We work through doubts in conversation with God and one another. If you’re having a conversation with someone dealing with doubt, your job isn’t to solve the problem, but to be there and point them to Christ. Give them resources and answers if they want it and ask, but your first job is to display Christ to them.
Myth #3: “Doubt never produces positive results.”
This certainly wasn’t the case for me. I never took my relationship with God too seriously until I faced a period of doubt. Walking through that doubt was the best thing that could have happened for my faith. Doubt means you have questions. As you walk through doubt, you learn that God is trustworthy again, and again.