Obedience to God:
1. Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,
2. Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.
3. 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.
15. So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging.
17. Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
2. Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.
3. So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days' journey.
4. And Jonah began to enter into the city a day's journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.
5. So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.
10. And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that He would do unto them; and He did it not.
As we see in the first verse, this was God talking to Jonah. In the second verse, He tells Jonah where to go. Ninevah was the capitol of Assyria. Jonah is to go there and "cry against it." Jonah was supposed to go to Ninevah and show them that they were living in a way that angered God, and urge them to cease their "wickedness." It is important to note that Ninevah was notorious for killing missionaries, and they didn't like Christians. As we see in the 3rd verse, Jonah didn't obey. Instead, he decided to go to Joppa and catch a boat to Tarshish, rather than go to Ninevah. Tarshish is a Sanscrit or Aryan word, meaning "the sea coast." It was a city on the coast, probably in what is now Spain. Almost everywhere Tarshish is mentioned in the Bible, it is referencing it's great wealth and many ships. The sea started raging and as we see in the 15th and 17th verses, Jonah was cast into the sea for his disobedience, but even in his punishment, God took care of him. God prepared a "Great Fish," which we usually assume to be a whale, to swallow him so that he wouldn't die. Jonah would not have had to go through this if he had trusted God. As we see in the verses from Chapter 3, he did finally go to Ninevah, and the people repented, and God did not destroy them.
Obedience to Authority Figures:
15. And Moses spake unto the Lord, saying,
16. Let the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation,
17. Which may go out before them, and which may go in before them, and which may lead them out, and which may bring them in; that the congregation of the Lord be not as sheep which have no shepherd.
20. And thou shalt put some of thine honour upon him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient.
These verses in Numbers tell us that God has set the pastor up to have authority over the church. This also applies to other authority figures. The Bible also tell us to be obedient to the laws of the land (Render unto caesar what is caesar's...)
Jonah probably doubted God when it came to going to Ninevah. He probably thought, "Those people will never repent. They'll just kill me as soon as I walk into the city. Even if they do let me talk, I'm not a great preacher that can reach an entire city." These are usually the things we use to rationalize our disobedience: Doubting God, fear of others opinions, and doubting self. Had Jonah just obeyed, he would have had a much better experience. It tells us in Gen. 22:18 that Abraham was blessed because he heard and obeyed the Lord's voice.
I haven't heard from glh or Eugene, so they may add to this later, or post an addendum, or just participate in the discussion.