By Joseph Ametepe
"The word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai saying, 'Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me. But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD." (Jonah 1:1-3).
Previously, we learned from this passage that God is in control of the nations and will in His own time call them to account. Today, I would like us to learn another important principle from this passage. Here it is: God's command to His servant is non-negotiable. We live in a culture in which the word "command" is not popular. Frankly, we don't like commands. Most in our culture today don't particularly like anyone telling them what they can and can't do. We like suggestions. In fact, many in our culture prefer something more flexible, bendable and easier to follow. Unfortunately, this attitude towards "commands" has seeped into the Church, that is, among true believers in Jesus Christ. But if God's people are to become all that God wants them to become and serve His purpose in their generation, then, we must rid ourselves of this attitude. We must understand that God's commands to us are not intended to ruin our life, but to release us to live the life He ordained for us to its fullest.
The non-negotiable command given to Jonah was intended to release Jonah to serve God's purpose in his generation. In the process, Jonah would become all that God wanted him to be. What an honor! What a privilege! God made it clear to Jonah that this was a command from Him-the supreme, sovereign, self-sufficient, and self-existing God, who is indeed the Lord of the universe. Please observe that the name "LORD" or "Yahweh" is mentioned three times in this passage. This was God's way of clearly and convincingly identifying the person behind the command to Jonah. It was Yahweh Himself. God wanted Jonah to understand that this is not a comment, but a command from Him. In other words, Jonah must not take this as a suggestion, but as a specific directive from the sovereign Lord to Jonah to carry out a specific divine task. Jonah must accept the fact that this is not an option or opinion given to him to discuss or debate, but an order from the omnipotent God Himself.
Furthermore, Jonah must not think that this is merely an advice to either accept or abnegate as he may please, but an authoritative word given by "the Great I AM" Himself. By obeying this command, Jonah would have served God's purpose in his generation. But he deliberately disobeyed it at this time. To become all that God wants us to become, to serve God's purpose in our generation, to make a difference that counts for eternity, let's choose to submit to God's word to us. Let's surrender to Him. Let's settle it in our hearts that God's commands to us are not intended to ruin life for us, but to release us to reach our fullest potential in Him. What has God's said to you today? Submit to it for your own good and growth in Him and for the praise of His glory! Shun and set aside the present day culture's attitude towards "commands" and soar in serving God's purpose in your generation!