The challenge is reading the Book of Jonah is holding together a tension that flows from beginning to end. Yes, there is a prophet named Jonah and he receives a message from God and he chooses to run.
By extraordinary means, Jonah ends up in the place he was running from. Yes, Jonah is present.
And we can relate to that. We get scared, we run, we fall into pits. It’s a universal story with lots of metaphors.
But, it’s not so much a book about Jonah. It’s a book about the way God works.
Chapter 1 and 2 are about Jonah doing it his way and the consequences of that choice. In Chapter 3, God takes over.
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.” And Jonah got up and went to Nineveh, according to the Lord’s word. (Now Nineveh was indeed an enormous city, a three days’ walk across.) – Jonah 3:1-3
Do you believe in second chances?
In Jonah 1:1, Jonah, the reluctant prophet, heard a command from God: “Get up and go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it, for their evil has come to my attention.” Now, Jonah is fresh off the moment in which he has been thrown up on the beach. He’s made his prayer to God for salvation and rescue and now Jonah finds himself outside of Nineveh.
God’s response is to repeat the same task that he had given to Jonah at the beginning of the book. “Get up and go to Nineveh, that great city…” Jonah’s already tried running and that didn’t work out so well. Now, his option seems to be to complete the task.
God says, “Get up and go.” Jonah “got up and went” to Nineveh.
Jonah, at least to this point in the story, shows us redemption. The one who ran away can now be restored to the task. Jonah has been offered the task again of going and declaring God’s word to Nineveh.
And this time, at least, he gets up and goes.
How many times has God offered us second, third, fourth, infinity plus one chances at redemption on tasks that we have been offered? Maybe we have, like Jonah, rebelled and ran from God. Maybe we’ve struggled to find our way. Maybe we’ve put off the mission because we didn’t think we were qualified or capable or even ready.
Yet, God keeps inviting and offering and loving.
Will we seize the moment and accept the mission?
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