If someone came up to you and said I'm running away from God, depending on your religious beliefs, a non-christian would probably say something like, "Sweet, I don't care." If you were in danger, and you knew the person with you was running away from their Lord you probably still would not think that all the danger could be because of them.
When Jonah runs away from the Lord he tells the people who's ship he boards that he is running away from his Lord. They don't really care that much, so they let him on. When the ship starts to rock and the water starts to rise and the whole crew is put in danger there is nothing left to do. The people cast lots and the lot falls on Jonah.
So they asked him, "Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?" He answered, "I am a hebrew and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land." This terrified them and they asked, "What have you done?" (They knew he was running away from the Lord, because he had already told them so.) - Jonah 1:8-10 -
They were terrified as SOON as they heard that he worshiped this God who had made the earth. They didn't have to ask about his power, if Jonah's God had created the earth they knew that He was powerful. They knew that Jonah's angry God could destroy them all.
Why doesn't anyone understand this anymore?