Links Daily Devotional

Running from God?

But Jonah ran away from the LORD… He went down to Joppa… (Jonah 1:3, NIV)

The hours are more than discombobulated when you travel halfway ’round the world, but our Links Players Israel trip was scheduled for arrival this morning in Tel Aviv, no matter what time it is where you are reading this now. So, assuming all has gone well since the posting of today’s devotion, greetings from the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea!

Culture has always been a function of time and place, and while time is somewhat flattened in our high-speed world, when you move to a place like Israel it is hard not to be transported across centuries as well as across the miles. If you’ve been here, you know it is not a pure experience, for the biblical sites are often buried under centuries of attempted “improvement” or surrounded by 20th and 21st Century buildings. Never mind all that. We want to paint pictures of the places of Scripture as we move from one to another of them.

First off, Tel Aviv. This is the airport city of the entire nation, with flights arriving from around the world. In history, though, this port welcomed commercial ships serving Europe, Africa, and this extreme edge of Asia. It was called Joppa (today it is often called Jaffa and it is the twin city of Tel Aviv), and in the account of Jonah the prophet, it was Jonah’s intended portal to escape the call of God.

Jonah’s full story is told in four brief chapters. We can read it in a matter of minutes. And it’s not uncommon to come to the end laughing at the man who tried to run from the call of God. Really? As though God couldn’t see him.

The trouble is that nearly all of us have made the same painful error at least once in our lives—a perfect indication that culture only runs so deep in carving the differences between us. Like Jonah, we’d prefer to set our own schedules, listen to our preferred opinion makers, and “pitch in” when we feel like it. Like Jonah, we dare to tell God, “I’ve got a better idea for this situation, Lord.” And we hop in our cars and drive down to our Joppa. We’ll come back to God later.

I won’t tell you outright that when you go your own way like this, you can expect to meet up with a whale one day soon. That would sound ridiculous. But let me put it this way: if you’re silly enough to act as though God can’t see you (or hear you or know what you’re thinking), you’re going to get swallowed up in the unintended consequences of your own attempt at brilliance. It’s better to head to the mean streets of Nineveh in the company of God than to cruise the “safe shores” of Joppa without him.

Jeff Hopper
December 1, 2014
Copyright 2014 Links Players International
The Links Daily Devotional appears Monday-Friday at