"These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so." -Acts 17:11

This is a study outline that will direct you, but it will not do your thinking for you. The purpose of this style is to encourage you to do a good deal of leg work in your own bible. Read the passage and the opening statement. Understand the text and its context. Read each question, then look at the lettered (A, B, C, etc.) thought. Look at each of the numbered, supporting references to get the full meaning of the thought. Follow the logic yourself before reading the concluding statement. Finally, give this study legs of its own by putting it into practice in your life.

"But Jonah..."    Jonah 1:3 (KJV)

"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."
We all know the story. We know from hearing, but we also know from our own experience. Someone misses the will of God through insensitivity to His calling. Another person might be missing God's will by doing things that are good, but not the best things. Then we have the "Jonah Plan", on of blatant, knowing disobedience. It is a route born out of pride. Jonah offered no excuse and tried no argument. In an attempt to escape doing what he knew to be right, what he knew to be a direct command, he did exactly the opposite of what God had clearly commanded. Let's look at what he did and see it for what it is.
  1. Who is Jonah putting first?
    1. Himself
      1. v. 3 - "But Jonah"; his first thought is of himself
      2. v. 3 - "rose up to flee"; his first action is not obedience
      3. v. 3 - "paid the fare"; his first expenditure is on his sin
    2. His own
      1. ch. 4, v. 2 - "my country"; his own people
      2. ch. 4, v. 1 - "it displeased Jonah exceedingly"; at the expense of the Ninevites
  2. Who is Jonah rising up against?
    1. Against God
      1. v. 3 - "from the presence of the LORD"; break communion with God in open rebellion
      2. ch. 4, v. 2 - "Therefore I fled"; trying to thwart God's plan
      3. ch. 4, v. 9 - "I do well to be angry"; wants his own will done
    2. Against the Ninevites
      1. v. 3 - "went down to Joppa"; opposite direction
      2. ch. 4, v. 2 - "for I knew that thou art a gracious God"; did not want them spared
      3. ch. 4, v. 3 - "it is better for me to die"; grieved when they repented
  3. What direction is Jonah headed?
    1. Away from God
      1. v. 3, 10 - "from the presence of the LORD" mentioned three time
      2. v. 12 - "cast me forth into the sea"; the path of hopelessness
      3. ch. 4, v. 3 - "take, I beseech thee, my life from me"; the path of despair
    2. Down
      1. v. 3 - "and went down to Joppa"; from Galilee the sea is down hill
      2. v. 3 - "and went down into it"; literally down into the sea
      3. ch. 2, v. 6 - "down to the bottoms of the mountains"
      4. v. 2 - "their wickedness is come up before me"; in contrast, God says He is up
  4. Who are Jonah's fellow-travelers?
    1. The world
      1. v. 3 - "found a ship going to Tarshish"; Phoenicians, merchants
    2. The flesh
      1. v. 6 - "that we perish not"; trusting in their own efforts
      2. v. 7 - "let us cast lots"; trusting in fate
    3. The devil
      1. v. 5 - "cried every man unto his god"; idol worshippers
It is bad enough that Jonah is disobeying, but look at all of the other consequences wrapped up in this! Sins of selfishness, pride, anger, hatred, endangering the lives and souls of others, and falling in with a worldly, godless group of people. He was never out of God's presence, though. We know well that we cannot escape God. So why was Jonah doing all of this? In chapter four he tell's us: he disagreed with God. Somewhere in time, Jonah had made the mistake of assuming that he knew the plan of God. He thought he had a good grasp of Scripture and God's will for his own life. Satisfaction and pride set in. He became comfortable with his position serving the Lord. When God showed him more and began stretching him to the next level of spiritual maturity, Jonah had become too inflexible to bend to His will.

Where are we? Are you at a point where you have slowed in your growth? I've reached places where I thought I knew enough or was doing enough for God. Those were the times when God let me see a bit more of the big picture. That can shatter your paradigm. So, what is the remedy? Keep learning more about God every day! Read a part of His Word that you've never understood before. He has interacted with many people in many different ways. See how complex God is and imagine what you would do in the many situations that the Bible presents. Did you know that God directed one of His prophets to marry a prostitute? Did you know that two great, spiritual men of God were high government officials in pagan countries? And remember, the One who created and owned the entire world became a foot-washing servant to fishermen. Talk about a paradigm shift! Keep stretching, stay flexible, and look forward to change. God is unchanging, but we know so little about Him that we can never afford to think that we have everything figured out.