Saturday, April 27, 2013


It is an indescribable experience to be regurgitated by a fish, and I would rather not relive it in any attempted depiction. It is sufficient to say that it happened, a new birth from a living death, and that I found myself on dry land. I had learned the hard way that I could never outrun the determined mercy of God, so I accepted the inevitable and made my way to Nineveh, to do exactly what I should have done in the first place and preach the unequivocal message of repentance.

When I arrived there I was astounded. Rumour had told stories of the magnificence of the city, but who takes rumour seriously? In this case rumour had fallen short, as if the further one was away from Nineveh, the less believable its true magnificence was. It took three days to cross the city, warning of impending judgement (that their city would fall in forty days if they did not repent), and all the time my resentment grew. I have never felt so provincial, so backward and unsophisticated as I did in that place. They had so much, as all the riches of their growing empire flowed into their hands, whilst I, a member of God’s own chosen people, called to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation, felt unkempt and uncouth by comparison! That rankled, and my anger against their luxurious, God-defying ways energised my preaching.  The fact that they all took heed of what I said, from the greatest to the least, and put on sackcloth and fasted did nothing to soothe my indignation.

It simply wasn’t fair! The godlessness and evil of the city overwhelmed me as I walked through it, yet with just a little repentance they would escape the judgement they deserved? And yet I, prophet of the most high God, faithful keeper of the Law, had just been through a horrendous experience for wanting to stay away from such a dreadful place. I found myself a place to sit and constructed a basic shelter, overlooking the city, watching and waiting; but, just as I had expected, nothing was happening. They went about their day to day lives and their heedless pleasures, but no fire and brimstone rained from above, nor did the earth swallow them up. I was furious! How could God show them so much mercy?

And as I sat there, counting out the forty day period, I became aware of a vine growing across my shelter, bringing me shade from the ferocity of the sun. I would never have expected to be so grateful for a common gourd. But even that pleasure was taken away from me. The very next day my vine withered, and then a scorching east wind came up. As I withered in turn and grew faint under the assault of heat, I mourned that simple vine which hadn’t even known I existed. It was then God challenged my heart, and I finally began to understand His. If I could have such concern for a mere vine, which I didn’t even create in the first place, then how could He not care about so many people in that great city? 

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