Second Chance

Jonah 1:1-17, 3:1-10 and 4:1-11
Wednesday November 9, 2016

Focus passage: The LORD’s word came to Jonah a second time.  “Get up and go to Nineveh, that great city, and declare against it the proclamation that I am commanding you.” Jonah 3:1-2

God calls a second time and Jonah has been through enough, he has endured a huge storm at sea and has been inside the belly of a fish for three days and has been expelled by the fish onto the beach, and so he knows that saying “yes” is probably the right thing to do. So this time, Jonah our reluctant prophet, heads toward Nineveh.
Now we don’t know how long it took Jonah to get to Nineveh, but when I was in Hebrew class in seminary we liked to imagine that Jonah entered into this large city, still smelling and looking like something that had come out of a fish’s stomach.  And we did, in part because Jonah is satire and that image just lends itself to heightening the humor of the story, but also because it presents Jonah in a different light.
Rather than being the prophet who has it all together, who has  been successful on his home turf, successful enough to have the means to charter his own boat and crew as he did in the first chapter of Jonah … here Jonah smells and looks nasty.  You can tell by his appearance that he has a story to tell, that he has been on a journey and that in itself gives him some authority. 
And that, I think, that has to be the case because to have the result he did when you look at the effort he expended it just doesn’t make sense.  Jonah goes just one days walk into a city that is a three day walk across and cries out,  “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”  And that is it!  The entire city from the King down to the animals all repent, he has a 100% success rate!  They all put on sack cloths and put ashes on their heads and enter into a time of repentance. 

Prayer: God, help me to love my enemies, to allow your love to permeate all of me today.  Amen.


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