“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 up 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.
The LORD hurled a great wind on the sea and there was a great storm on the sea so that the ship was about to break up. Then the sailors became afraid and every man cried out to his god, and they threw the cargo which was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone below into the hold of the ship, lain down and fallen sound asleep. So the captain approached him and said, ‘How is it that you are sleeping? Get up, call on your God. Perhaps your God will be concerned about us so that we will not perish.'” Jonah 1:1-6 (NASB)
Sin disturbs everything. Transgression does not bring tranquility; rather, it brings turbulence. Sin disturbs minds, marriages, schools, businesses, cities, nations, and churches. The disobedience of man has so upset things that the apostle Paul said, “The whole creation groans and suffers” in pain as a result.
Men ever try to play down the seriousness of their disobedience to God’s commands. But the upsetting consequences of even the so called small sins mocks every attempt of man to belittle the injurious nature of evil. One stone of rebellion cast into the sea of humanity sends its waves to the farthest shores. “No one lives to himself” (Romans 14:7). The guilt of one man endangers the lives of many. The misconduct of a statesman can lay waste a nation. The drinking driver can leave a cruel scare on many families. The lawlessness of just one citizen can burden society with millions of dollars of expense. The greed of an Achan can cost the lives of many and bring defeat to an army…
It would be a great help to man if he got a great deal more concerned about the fact that sin really disturbs God. Men need to get more concerned about God’s reaction to things. Often folk seem very concerned about what other men think of their performance, but seldom do they evidence much concern about what God thinks. God is frequently viewed as a simple, sentimental, jolly, old religious Santa Clause Who winks at our sin and Who will in the end make everybody happy. But we need instead to view God as a holy God Who does not look lightly upon rebellion but reacts strongly to it. Our society and its courts may not get very upset about evil, but God is of better character than that. When a nation is “sinful” (Isaiah 1:4), and when they “have forsaken the LORD” (Ibid.) as Jonah did in fleeing “from the presence of the LORD,” it will result in the Lord being “provoked…unto anger” (Ibid.). God gets justifiably very disturbed about sin, and wise men will not forget that.
John G. Butler: Jonah