To Timbuktu from the presence of the Lord

Jonah 1:3 - But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.

Jonah was a Man of God who had a good relationship with God. He would communicate with the Lord and would hear the voice of God, He knew the Lord. Yet in today's scripture we see Jonah was trying to flee from the presence of the Lord!

Tell me brothers and sisters in Christ can anyone ever flee from the presence of God?

Some days back my daughter heard from her school religion teacher that God has a throne like a chair on which He is seated in Heaven (sadly many Christians believe this). She was surprised at that statement asked me if it is possible.

I explained to her by example, consider God as air. If we are in the house there is air here and if we go out air is there too. If we go high on the mountain, air is there too although there would be less air but it is there. There is no place on earth where air is not there.

God is Spirit and there is no place, where God is not there. Even in Hell one cannot run away from God or His presence. Satan may be in Hell but yet Hell is under God's control and His Angels are in charge in Hell. Hell is not what is shown in photographs but a prison where the souls of sinners suffer for their sins (Jesus went to Hell for the sins of the Word were on Him but He did not suffer there for there was no sin in Him - Peter's letter states He preached to the souls there and those who accepted His message were released with Him when He resurrected).

Jonah was no fool to even think of running away from the presence of God so then why did he try to flee to Tarshish? If you notice the title of the message I put as 'to Timbuktu from the presence of the Lord'. The phrase 'to Timbuktu' means to go far away where a person is unreachable. Jonah was not running from the Lord but was running from the purpose or task the Lord had given him. Timbuktu for us today is what Tarshish was during the time of Jonah. Tarshish was the furthest point where a ship could reach out. It was considered as the end of the world since they thought the world was flat during those times.

What is interesting to note is Jonah started his running away from Joppa and the name means 'beautiful'. The Lord is telling us when we running from the Lord or the task He has given us as Christians we are running away from a beautiful place. When we are in to Lord doing His Will we dwell in a beautiful place and when we do not do His will we are running to Timbuktu or Tarshish. The Jews believe that Jonah actually died in the belly of the fish, went to Hell and returned (which is not the truth but a figurative term; Jesus knew of the Jews' understanding and thus used it in His teaching). All of us were or are like Jonah who come back or came back to do God's Will only when we had or will have our born again experience.

Jonah did not have this belly of the fish experience again and again in his life so also we should not expect the grace of God to keep bringing us back to the purpose of God in our life, when we take His grace for granted.

[ Prayer Starter ]
Lord, You have made us for with a purpose and for a purpose. It is only when we have the knowledge of the purpose You created us, will we clearly know your purpose in our lives. Lord, we prayer that your people know the purpose You created us and not be deceived with the lie they have been told since ages. That they abide by the purpose You have for them in their lives and not run away from it. Jesus said as His disciple each and every one is to witness Him to all the people of this world and to baptize people in your understanding and teach them your purpose. Lord we pray this be fulfilled by all Christians...

This prayer we make in Jesus' Name, Amen.

[ Reference Scriptures ]
Hebrew 10:23-27
23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)
24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,
27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

1 Peter 3:18-20
18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;
20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

Matthew 28:18-20
18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

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