Last week, when we dissected the account of the Prophet Jonah, we noticed in the first few verses that “Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.” If you are familiar with the story then you know that his plan to physically run away from God did not turn out so well.
Jonah had to learn what David spoke of in Psalm 139:7-10: “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me.”
And while we may not physically run away from God, are we not behaving in a similar manner when we silence our God-given consciences, or deliberately put His words out of our heads in order to avoid the feeling of judgment? Do we not bury our heads in the sand when we just disregard His commands?
“Yes, I know I should be sharing the gospel with people wherever I go, but… lets talk about something else.” “Yes, I know the Bible says those actions are sinful, but surely God wants me to be happy.” “Well, I should probably get baptized but… I’ll do it later.”
Just as Jonah’s running away did not actually remove Him from God’s presence, ignoring or forgetting God’s words does not get us off the hook either.
In the book of Micah it is recorded that the people behaved in this way. After being chastised for their wickedness and warned of impending doom it is said: “‘Don’t say such things,’ the people respond. ‘Don’t prophesy like that. Such disasters will never come our way! (Micah 2:6-7, NLT)’” It was as if the people believed that if they did not hear God’s truth, then it did not exist.
Instead, they wanted to listen to people that would tell them what they wanted: “Suppose a prophet full of lies would say to you, ‘I’ll preach to you the joys of wine and alcohol!’ That’s just the kind of prophet you would like! (Micah 2:11, NLT)”
Even the world recognizes the danger of surrounding ourselves by people who only tell us what we like to here. Recently there has been a lot of talk about the dangers of social media becoming an “echo chamber” in which we become surrounded by likeminded individuals who will not challenge us to grow in our understandings.
Paul told Timothy that the same thing could happen to Christians if they were not careful: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
The truth is that there will always be someone somewhere willing to tell us what we want to hear just so we can feel good about ourselves and not be troubled with God’s truth. In this way, we can convince ourselves of whatever it is that we would like to believe, as though our obliviousness to reality actually altered the truth.
Beginning in Proverbs 1:20 we find a lengthy passage about wisdom crying out in the public square, asking if anyone is actually going to listen to her. The choice is yours. There are plenty of fools waiting to tell you exactly what you want. Or there is wisdom, crying out from the pages of the Bible for whoever is willing to listen.