Jonah was the only prophet called to people out of Israel.[i] That fact makes it easier to sympathize with Jonah’s resistance to God’s call to go to Nineveh. “I didn’t sign up for this,” Jonah must have thought. “No one else has ever been asked to do this!”
In his own book, Jonah is the anti-hero, a reminder of what we are not to do. God gives Jonah four directives in his book and Jonah (initially at least) rejects all four. The first two calls are coupled together. “Arise and go!” God twice tells Jonah. Last week we examined God’s call for Jonah and us to arise and we reflected just how difficult it is to swim against the cultural current and arise. But arise we must.
And Go. We must go into the mess. We’re called to step into the entanglements of lives around us. It’s easier to keep the lids on the trash cans, but you can’t get into the lives of those around you unless you start taking off some lids.