Obedience Calls You Up


Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah, the son of Amittai, saying, “Arise...”

Jonah 1:1-2a


When God said to Jonah “Arise,” what exactly did that mean? Was he sleeping or taking a nap? Did God barge in, did a God-voice break the silence, awaking Jonah from his slumber? Or was Jonah wide awake walking around Israel, hanging out at the beach with his buddies?  This word “arise” is mentioned another four times in the book of Jonah, and it’s also mentioned twelve different times in the books of the minor prophets. What does this word mean? What’s the significance of it? Is it for prophets only, or is it for other Christians as well? There are at least two different interpretations of this word. I think there are two meanings to the word “arise” that we need to consider. 

First the word has a literal meaning. To arise means you need to get up and go do something; it carries with it the literal meaning in the original language to endure something as well. In a literal sense, God was saying to go Nineveh, which was at a higher elevation than where Jonah ended up along the coast, in what’s now known as Tel-Aviv, to board a ship and leave. 

Secondly, the word “arise” carries with it a spiritual meaning.  All throughout the Bible, there is the idea that God calls us up. He calls us to higher ground morally and spiritually. When others take the low road, the Christian ought to take the high road.  God’s word calls us to raise our thinking, and raise standards in life. The Apostle Paul taught that the believer ought to set one’s mind on eternal things, not earthly things (Colossians 3:1). The Psalmist taught the believer to lift one’s eyes up to God for help! (Psalms 121) We describe heaven as being “up there.” It’s a better place up there, where those we loved and have passed away are, along with other angels and God. We sing songs about this; we talk like this. Why? Because it’s the language, we find in the Bible to describe not only our ultimate destination but our life’s direction. It’s up, up, and away! No doubt, there is a deeper meaning to this word “arise” that goes far beyond the prophet Jonah.  


How could God be calling you to go up? In what area of your life do you need to step up? What is God calling you to do, to start? Take some time to pray to the Lord and ask him to speak to you about an area of your life maybe you’re not aware of, and ask him to speak into your life, and arise with the saints of old and trust God and obey. Obedience to God will always call you up. The gravity of sin and self will pull down, but obedience to God will always call you up!