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Lessons from Jonah

Dear Sisters,

Have you ever read a funny story that you suddenly remembered in a train and you burst out laughing, oblivious of your fellow commuter's quizzical looks? For me, the book of Jonah falls into this category. Every time I read the book of Jonah it makes me laugh.

Unlike other prophetic books, the book of Jonah concentrates on the life of Jonah and not his message,.

In the book of Jonah, we see God instructing the prophet to "GO to Nineveh..." verse 2.

Jonah flees from the presence of the Lord and runs in the opposite direction. As I was having my normal laugh at Jonah's expense. I suddenly realised that there are many times, God tells the Church to go and we flee in the opposite direction. For instance he commands us to

Jonah's fleeing from God's presence caused a storm to arise. (I soon wipe the smile off my face when I realized that a sleeping prophet and a sleeping church could have the same effect. What impact does a sleeping church have on a nation - you tell me!.

The alarmed sailors ask the sleeping prophet to rise and pray. Eventually, dozy Jonah ends up in the belly of a fish for three days and three nights. I thought to myself what would it take for the church to unite, rise up and pray - three days in a fish?

As the story continues, Jonah repents and prays, God gives him a second chance, I have discovered in my walk with Jesus, that our God is definitely a God of a first, second and even a third chance!

Jonah repentance leads him to walk and proclaim the word of the Lord to the city. This is certainly good news for the people. Jonah's obedience seem to impact a whole nation .The city of Ninevah  repents and prays (hurrah).

The passage, if my people that are called by my name humble themselves and pray, I will heal their land - certainly seems applicable here.

Typical of Jonah, the story is not over, we see a Jonah who is displeased. He appears to be very very cross. This section of the narrative brings back the smile to my face.

Chuckling away to myself, I can imagine Jonah saying "it's alright for you God, I have just spent a few days telling people there is going to be a storm due to their wickedness"! I can also imagine if the society was anything like today, there were a few sceptic that would have described Jonah as a false prophet - as their weather forecasters - predicted "blue skies and a calm westerly wind" for the next few days - or do I mean years?

The puzzling part for me, is seeing a gifted prophet who has been given a second chance by God and who hears God - and authoritatively proclaims the word of the Lord, but ......

Before I started getting smug again, I realised that is the case in today's church.

There are many people in the body of Christ who lack compassion, they lack kindness, and yet they are gifted. For me, Paul encapsulates the state of the church when he says though I speak with tongues and have not  LOVE.

Could that be where Jonah was?

As usual, God always has a response.

God rebukes Jonah's lack of kindness and depicts HIMSELF as a God who loves the people and will give his people as many chances as HE likes!

He is God after all !!.

Vivienne Oke

2 January 2010


The Dream

One day the Lord will touch all the nations of the world.

Just as there is a pub in every street (nearly).

I see women praying and meeting in houses or halls - in every street.

Volunteers, volunteers, volunteers, I hear,

Where are the volunteers, It could be you.

Calling all volunteers to see this vision through

It could be you the Lord is calling to see this vision through!