Summary: A first person narrative of the story of Jonah, focussing on God’s propensity to forgive repentant sinners, and believers’ resentment of this
I knew that this would happen! I just knew it! God is always the same! He is always merciful and full of grace. He always forgives people who repent! Even Assyrian scum-bags!
There I was, minding my own business, working as an ordinary prophet and preacher in Gath Hephron when along came God and told me to go to Nineveh because he was concerned about the trouble they were in and the sin that they were commiting.
He was concerned about them?!? Assyrians? Pagans? What about us Israelites? I, of course, had no intention of going anywhere near Nineveh - a place that was full of pagans and sinners, and, what was worse, Assyrian pagans and sinners. If I thought that I was going to get a chance to see them destroyed and punished then I would have gone; I would have enjoyed seeing pagan sinners sent to destruction, particularly if they were of the Assyrian variety.
But I knew exactly what would happen. They would repent and God would forgive them, just like he always does.
He’s always done it to us Hebrews, whenever we have turned away from him he has always wanted us back and joyfully received us when we returned. But at least we are his chosen people, the nation above all other nations.
I knew that I would not be able to stand seeing that happen with our Assyrian enemies, so I decided to run away from him, to go to a place where he was not worshipped, and hide. Somewhere where there would be no other prophets to bother me. Where the Lord would not speak to me. He would have to send somebody else.
So I went to the foreign port of Joppa, already starting to feel safe, found a ship that was willing to accept a bit of money in return for a passenger, and boarded.
I told the sailors that I was running away from the Lord, and they thought that it was a great laugh. Unfortunately my conscience was already beginning to trouble me, so, instead of mixing with the others, I went down into the hold of the ship, settled myself down, and went to sleep.
I didn’t sleep for very long. I was rudely awoken by the ship tossing and turning and pitching and rolling. I could hear the crashes as the waves hit the sides of the ship.I realised immediately what the storm was all about; The Lord had sent it because I was disobeying him.I told the captain and crew and informed them that the storm would stop if they threw me over the side. They didn’t want to co this, but, after struggling for some time to get back to Joppa and not succeding, they agreed and over the side I went. Down, down, down into the sea, my lungs bursting, this was the end, I was going to die. But no. I suddenly felt myself being sucked into something and then I was breathing again. My life was saved. Giving thanks to God, I settled down to see what would happen to me. After three days, the length of time that I would have stayed in Nineveh had I gone, I was spat out onto the beach. Realising that I had been swallowed by a fish gave me the creeps, but at least I was still alive, the Lord had saved my life and forgiven my rebellion and sin against him, just as he always does.
I thought that the Nineveh trip was off so I legged it back home to Gath Hepher and to my father, Ammitai as quickly as I could. Back to normal life. Back to being a prophet for Israelites only.
But I couldn’t get away from the Lord that easily. Despite trying to return to my normal life, he called me again to Nineveh, and this time I went. I knew that I could do no other.
After a long, hard journey I finally arrived at that den of iniquity. I reached the gates, smelling the stench of sin and foreign pollution. I felt defiled just having sight of the city walls. Those Assyrians really are wicked and deserve all the trouble they get. I couldn’t believe that I had actually come here.
I knew that I was going to be stuck with the evil scum for three days. Nineveh is one of those so-called ’diplomatic cities’ where an official visit akes a minimum of three days, one day to present your credentials, one day to deliver your message and one day to make formal farewells and to leave. Three days amidst such wickedness? Why couldn’t God have just destroyed them straight away? That would be nothing less than the evil scum deserve. That would have done the rest of the world, particularly the chosen people of Israel, a favour.