Jonah 4: What are More Important?

(Jonah comes in gasping and covered in sun-block)

I just don't believe it! One week I'm drowning in water... Another week I'm gasping for it... Any chance of a drink? (Someone gives him a glass of water)

Ah! That hits the spot! Anyway... Did you get my postcard, from sunny Nineveh? Dreadful place! Give me Ballybeen any day.

But you'll never guess what happened after I wrote the postcard... There I was, I'd done what God had asked me to... I'd told the Ninevites exactly what God thought of them... I didn't miss them and hit the wall, let me you! I told them they had 40 days before God was going to destroy them...

And you should have seen their faces. They knew their number was up. I'd really got to them... They started weeping and wailing, and did the old sack-cloth and ashes bit. Its always the same; tell people they're doomed and they start on about how dreadfully sorry they are...

Well, I said, its too late... 40 days and you've had your chips.

40 days later I pack my bag and head out into the desert to the east of the city, and sit myself down on the hill above the city to watch the fireworks... And nothing...

I knew it. I knew that once God saw all their tears and heard how "dreadfully sorry" they were he would change his mind. Too soft, that’s what he is. I sat there all day in the shade of a bush... furious with God... well could you blame me... Why did he bother with all that palaver about the big fish and everything only to have me go to Nineveh and make a liar of me? Why didn't he just let me drown? I told him! I didn't miss him and hit the wall either. Just let me die, I said, there's no point in living any more. And I went to sleep.

But as if that wasn't bad enough, the next day when I woke the bush I'd been sitting under was dead... and the wind was whipping up a sandstorm, and the sun was beating down... And that was it, the final straw. How dare God treat one of his servants like that, and yet let the Ninevites off scot free! If that's how he treats his friends its little wonder he has so few of them!

The only comfort I had was one, single, solitary bush, and he had let it die. Just let me die too, I said...

And all God said was "What are more important? Plants or people?"

I don't know what he meant...

© David A. Campton 2001

The last of my series of monologues on Jonah. But he's a character I'll return to again and again, because he is the perfect example of how not to do prophecy. The difficulty is that some people have a sense of humour bypass, and after doing all that is possible to prove that a big fish (of some type or other... but not a whale because the biblical writer would clearly have distinguished the mammalian whale, from a cold blooded fish) could swallow a human being whole, and that he could survive in the said fish's belly... they then do all that they can to emulate Jonah's style of turn or burn prohecy... The Book of Jonah, whether or not it has any shread of historic, or biological truth within it, is an unashamed farce, dealing with profound spiritual truths. Jonah is to prophecy what Homer Simpson is to parenting. But we are as slow to learn that, and other lessons, as Jonah (or Homer) is...


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