"Jonah was the only prophet who received instructions from God and ran from what God told him to do." Priscilla Shirer
God gave Jonah a mission and the very next thing that happened was that Jonah ran away. He went down to Joppa (the opposite direction of Nineveh) and got on a ship that was heading to Tarshish. Many scholars are not sure where Tarshish is, although they think is was around Spain and it is also referenced to a long journey instead of a specific city. Jonah was heading as far away as he could get. Why would a man of God run knowing that God can go anywhere? I believe he was running away from God's presence in the temple in Jerusalem.
Where do you think is the worst place on earth? Then think how you would feel if God asked you to go there to preach to the people that they were going to be destroyed. Maybe then we would be as disobedient as Jonah was and we would run away at the very thought of such a dangerous mission. This book shows us a God of mercy and grace, we don't earn this, but are often given it anyway.
Nineveh was thought by some scholars to have at some point attacked Israel so Jonah might have seen family & friends die at the hands of the very people he was suppose to go and preach to. So his wanting to flee from this mission starts to make sense to us. Many of use have a Nineveh in our lives, whether it is family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, a situation, etc. 2 Kings 14:25 "[King Jeroboam II] restored the border of Israel from the entrance of Hamath as far as the Sea of the Arabah, according to the word of the Lord, the God of Israel, which He spoke through His servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet who was in Gath-hepher." The territories that were taken by Assyria had been restored and life was pretty good in Israel at the time. "Israel's wealth exploded because it controlled important trade routes through Palestine that connected the ancient world." Priscilla Shirer
"During the 8th century, Assyria was experiencing a time of national weakness and Jonah would have wanted to have seen their decline continue. Jonah placed no value on Nineveh or on its inhabitants."
Jonah was not some especially wicked sinner, he was a prophet of God. That meant that when he heard a word from God he would share it with the people. This man knew God and still ran away. Don't think that we are excluded from his company for we are very much Jonah at different moments in our life. You many ask, how can someone who hears directly from God disobey? It happens every day in this world, God loving God fearing people turn away from the thing God asks them to do based on their fears, feelings and priorities.
"God often sends us into the hopeless place because it's in the hopeless place that we can see the hope of God." Priscilla Shirer
I have run away from God many times so I am in a familiar place in this story. I haven't had anything as drastic as Jonah, but even in the little things we are being disobedient and that is just as important. We get interrupted through out the day, but a Godly intervention is different from the distractions of this world. He has a purpose for every intervention. Will we yield to Him or keep on the path we have created for our lives?
If you trained as a child to become a dancer and you ended up having an accident that prevented you from ever dancing again then what would you do? Would you sulk and be angry with God and the world or would you let God show you the life you were suppose to lead from the very beginning? Our plans for our life are many times uprooted by God so that He can work wonders through us.
Jonah held great importance in his job working for God until God asked him to do the unthinkable.
"Interruptions only become positive when we consider the person or the circumstance interrupting to be more significant than that which currently occupies our attention." Priscilla Shirer
Does God need us to complete His mission? No, He is fully capable of doing anything He chooses. In that moment God is calling you to a specific task that no one else is asked to do. Although, if we say no, He can find another to do what He is asking and we would miss out on the blessing. It is hard to fathom that God would want to partner with us, those who sin continually. We should see interventions as a privilege and not a burden.