When God Speaks, People Listen!

Jonah has to be one of the oddest people in the bible. Certainly the oddest prophet.

If ever there was a person unsuited to be God’s messenger, that person would be Jonah.

When God first announces his mission, why Jonah tries to run away. This in itself is ludicrous, for who can escape God?

Of course, God’s way of dealing with Jonah’s refusal is most unusual, causing untold havoc to poor sailors whose ship he used as a means of travel.

Every child knows the story of how Jonah was thrown overboard and swallowed by a “whale” and spit forth upon the shore near Nineveh.

Thereafter, Jonah goes into the city and proclaims it’s destruction because of its sinfulness.

And, as everyone would hope (save Jonah) the people repent and God hears their repentance and is satisfied and spares the city.

This of course ticks off Jonah to no end, who sees God as some softie, all too willing to accept “repentance” and reject his plans to destroy the city.

Jonah quite plainly doesn’t like the way God operates.

I can imagine that God finds Jonah amusing, chuckling at Jonah’s theatrics, “Just kill me now!” he cries.

In thinking about it, I realized, that given Jonah’s lackluster committment to God’s desires, one can but imagine how he “announced” to Nineveh’s inhabitants, their imminent doom.

Imagine if you will, Jonah, walking slowly down the street, “only forty days more and Nineveh will be overthrown,” he murmurs to various passersby.  I imagine he says this in a rather sarcastic, matter-of-fact tone, with a tired voice, uncaring, and unsympathetic. All he can think of is that he has miles to go before he is done. And of course he wants to be well out of the city before the show begins. He needs time to scope out a good hill to watch the fire and brimstone show.

And yet, people respond immediately to his words. They ACT, from the lowliest to the King, all  take on sackcloth and ashes as is appropriate to show great mourning and repentance.

All of which ticks off Jonah all the more, since his wimpy God now forgives them, and spoils his show. All that popcorn, and nothing to watch!

It may seem a bit odd that Jonah’s story is placed in counterpoint to that of Jesus travelling along the Sea of Galilee, and calling to Simon and Andrew and the sons of Zebedee.

Jonah is the antithesis of Jesus in every way.

Jesus will prove to be the herald of God’s loving forgiveness and the king of forgiveness himself.

Yet, they are alike in one way:

The power of God speaking through them is heard and responded to immediately by those who hear.

Who has not gasped when reading this story, literally every time one reads it. Four men, all working men, all in a sense businessmen running their own enterprises, drop everything and follow this man who calls them forth.

They do not stop to discuss the wisdom of leaving their tools (their operating machinery), nor do they wonder how they will feed themselves and their families. They do not seek advice, ask any questions, or look upward for divine guidance.

They “abandon” their belongings, their families, all those who depend upon them, all because something in that voice commands them to in a way that leaves no doubt as to its origins.

Please give me that chance God, to drop everything and follow you without question, we cry.

Amen.

 

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tim
    Jan 22, 2012 @ 14:19:31

    Once again, Sherry, you find the filament that pulls everything together–the contrast between Jonah and Jesus, and the same power of God’s voice to compel us to immediate action. It is simply breathtaking how little God cares about the “wrapper” when choosing a vessel–deeply flawed, as Jonah is, or flawless in Jesus’s case, the Word still goes forth, lives are changed, and we watch in awe, realizing we can tell the same story.

    Your thoughts here bless me richly. Thank you.

    Peace and much warmth during our winter chills,
    Tim

    Reply

    • Sherry
      Jan 22, 2012 @ 14:36:38

      Yes Tim, the vessel is so not the point isn’t it? I just love Jonah. If anyone ever thought that God was a vengeful sort, that is utterly put to rest when we see him dealing with Jonah. I rather think I would be a bit more like him that I would like to think. Blessings. (we are having a warm up today! lol..hopefully it will lead to some melting now.) Sherry

      Reply

  2. Michael
    Jan 25, 2012 @ 15:51:32

    I am reminded of Balaam in the book of Numbers, who was counted as a prophet but not of the Israelites. Three times he tried to curse the Israelites before they could cross the Jordan into Canaan. Three times he failed. when he first left his residence to go to the king to find out what was wanted of him he was foiled by his donkey who refused to carry him forward. Wanting to beat and/or kill the beast, the donkey began to speak with him with the words of an angel of God. He finally recognized that it was an angel of God who was speaking to him through the mouth of the beast. Even though he was opposed to the Israelites and a servant of the King of Moab.

    Here was a prophet who was not only reluctant but an outright enemy of the stateless nation of Israel. Yet, when he finally saw the Moabite King he told him, ” . . .I must speak only what God puts into my mouth!” (Numbers 22:38) He ended up speaking blessings unto them.

    This is truly a case of someone listening when God spoke to him. Balaam ended up providing a way for the Moabites to curse Israel on their own. (Numbers 25: 1-3, Revelation 2:14) He is also cited as a False Prophet or teacher in 2 Peter and Jude.

    Sherry, I am truly enjoying reading your blog I am now a “folllower” of your blog and will be linking you in my links sidebar. I have borrowed an image of John the Baptist from a post you made back in December and will link the image back to you as well. It should all be up within 24 hours.

    God bless you and yours and your endeavors here. In Christ’s Love, Michael

    Reply

    • Sherry
      Jan 25, 2012 @ 17:10:33

      Michael, your words are most kind. I guess I had forgotten the story about Balaam, but you are quite clearly right I think. It reminds us too, that we must expect God’s voice to come from the most unlikeliest of places doesn’t it? I thank you for following me, and I shall of course return the favor. I am a bit overburdened with “blog” duties, but I can always find time to be blessed with reading things that lift me upward and remind me that all is indeed well on the level of existence that counts. Bless you as well.

      Reply

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