Jonah, Chapter 3, the begrudged prophet
It’s a three day journey across Nineveh. Jonah walks one day across. Scripture says that Jonah proclaims, “In forty days more and Nineveh will be destroyed.” Spoken like a true prophet of old.
Jonah has done the thing he was called to do in the beginning. Finally. It took a storm, probably half a dozen sailors, a whale, and a long heartfelt conversation with self and God, but Jonah has finally gone and done the thing God commanded.
And Nineveh’s response is immediate.
What took two and a half chapters of storytelling to get Jonah to this point is now resolved in absolute by the people of Nineveh in one of the shortest verses of the third chapter.
They turn from their ways, and they turn towards God. From the smallest villager to the king, the top dog of the wicked city of Nineveh, they all turn away from their evil ways and repent.
Jonah, the begrudged prophet has done this in God.
I think in life we can underestimate God’s ability to use us as prophets. Jonah covers not even a third of the city walking a straight line. In all, maybe 10% of folks heard his voice. What issued forth from his mouth is a proclamation founded in God’s decree that domino-ed out to the entire city. What God sends, God backs up.
Sometimes, we can seem small. We can feel that what we do will have a little impact on the world. Perhaps the earliest of Christ’s disciples felt the same way as fishermen, outsiders, prostitutes, and tax collectors. What were they compared to the power and prestige of Rome?
And yet the God of heaven, who created the sea and the dry land, uses them to proclaim the new thing that God is doing in Jesus of Nazareth just as God calls you to do the same.
We are the voice of a new way of life. We are the voice of repentance, and reconciliation that God so yearns for with the entire world. We are the prophets of the God who is so filled with grace that God lived it out till the cross. And then even more grandly from the tomb!
And this proclamation can look like ELCA folks of all ages picking up trash or fixing up homes for others they may have never met. It may look like a cup of coffee with a coworker, or a hug to a bummed out guy. It may look like a conversation between a parent and kid. Who knows, but I have a feeling you’ll know when you stumble across it. After all, you have been called by God.