Can we call God our Father while we disobey him? Can we address him as our King while we openly disregard his decrees? Can we truly say that we delight in him while we treasure our sins more than him?
God has no dumb children.
I have read that sentence multiple times in the past few weeks. Each time, the author tried to inform me that prayer proves the legitimacy of one’s claim to be a child of God. Just as it is natural for children to cry out to their earthly parents for help in times of need, prayer ought to be second nature to the Christian who calls God Father. One who truly knows God as Father will call upon him. But there are times when the Christian does not pray, periods when God’s children become dumb. I certainly find this to be true in the case of the Old Testament prophet Jonah.
The first chapter of the book of Jonah records the prophet’s disobedience to God’s command. Jonah had been instructed to preach to the Ninevites, and he didn’t like the idea. Instead of going to Nineveh as he had been directed by God, he attempted to flee to Tarshish. This was a nationally renowned prophet, one who was known by everyone in Israel for his prophetic ministry. In the past, the same prophet had spoken of Israel’s recovery of lost land, which came to pass (cf. 2 Kings 14:23-25). He was not a false prophet. He was a tried and tested prophet of God.
I find this detail very fascinating. It is no surprise to read of ordinary Israelites disobeying God. It is always shocking when I read of the fall of a great man. This is because I find it easy to think too highly of men. I admit that I am somewhat of a hero worshipper. And that’s why Jonah’s disobedience shocks me. He was a national prophet. He was known and respected among God’s people. I can imagine him being a hero to the nation of Israel. Yet, he disobeys God’s instruction.