Prophetic Voices – Jonah 3
F – I – S – H
See also: Psalm 139:7-8; 2 Cor. 7:10; Rms. 1:16; Psalm 50:15; Col. 1:5
Flight – Jonah 1:3 – Look around the church and you will find people running from God. They are running from the calling of God.
Here I am reminded of the missionary’s joke. After a new monk told the monsignor he would do anything but preach, he was assigned to preach.
On the first day the little monk stood and trembled before the fellow monks. “Do you know what I have to say?” he asked. The monks shook their heads left to right. “Neither do I,” said the monk and he sat down.
The monk was severely reproved and told he must preach again.
On the second day he stood and trembled before his fellow monks. “Do you know what I have to say?” he asked. The monks shook their heads up and down. “Good. I won’t take up your time repeating what you know,” he said; and he sat down.
The monk was reproved once again and told that he must preach.
On the third day he stood and trembled before his fellow monks. “Do you know what I have to say?” he asked. This time some shook their heads left to right and others shook their heads up and down. “Good,” said the monk. “Those who know tell those who don’t know.”
Insight – Jonah 2:2, 7-9 – Jonah was praying one of those prayers that begins, “If you just get me out of this one, God, I promise to do right.” And God did get Jonah out of his predicament. Now Jonah had to do right.
Sorrowful Sermon – Jonah 3:5 – Jonah did return to Nineveh. He did preach. Whether he preached with a sneer or if he preached with a sense of self-righteousness I cannot say. His message was one of the righteous judgments of God.
Hope – Jonah 3:9-10 – I don’t suppose that the king or the people received a message of hope from Jonah’s threat of destruction. They heard a rumor that the God of Jonah was the God of mercy. So, they were counting on a God whose reputation was that of bringing hope and mercy. They believed that if they threw themselves on the mercy of God, they would find the mercy of God. Have you heard such rumors about God? Jesus assured us that they were true. Have you thrown yourself on God’s mercy. Nineveh did, and Nineveh was spared.
Exemplary story: One of the great fish-that-got-away stories was told by Ernest Hemingway. In his novel, The Old Man and the Sea, the hero lives his life to make a great catch. He does so, but before he can bring his catch ashore it is eaten by sharks and predators. His story is a tragedy. Jonah’s story is a victory story for him and for the people of Nineveh.