2 ‘Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.’
1 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: 2 “Stand at the gate of the LORD’s house and there proclaim this message:
“‘Hear the word of the LORD, all you people of Judah who come through these gates to worship the LORD. 3 This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. 4 Do not trust in deceptive words and say, “This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD!” 5 If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, 6 if you do not oppress the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, 7 then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your ancestors for ever and ever. 8 But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless.
Jonah follows in the great tradition of the prophets: God’s messengers sent to call people to repentance. But he is distinguished from other prophets of the Old Testament because he is sent not to the people of God but, rather, to an oppressor of them.
God created his world and it has ‘a grain’ to it. Consider the analogy of a piece of wood. If I run my hand in the direction of the grain, then all is well and I enjoy feeling its texture. If, however, I run my hand against the grain, I end up with splinters and pain! In like manner, it makes sense to live in the direction of God’s grain to life. Living a life that follows in the way of Christ glorifies God and brings fulfillment.
Sadly, like Jonah, our innate tendency so often is to go against the grain. We disobey God, act sinfully and end up in pain. Our sinful behavior has consequences. We need rescuing.
Throughout the Bible we see that God calls and sends His servants to bring us back to Him and the life He has for us. Jonah is called and sent by God to do His will, as are all God’s servants.
Rescuing and Saving God, I thank you for your servants such as Miriam, Hannah, Samuel, Jeremiah and Jonah. In their different ways, they served your purposes in the world; calling people to your way of life, to a life of holiness. I thank you for them and ask that I, too, may faithfully answer your call and serve you. Amen.