Jonah was called by God to go to Nineveh (Assyria’s capital at the time) to denounce their evil ways. He got in a boat and sailed in the opposite direction as fast as he could. Deep down inside Jonah knew that if he successfully preached to Nineveh that they would turn from their sin and God would show mercy, and the probability of that happening really irked Jonah. In a short time Jonah found himself thrown overboard and swallowed by a large fish. I think his rotten attitude gave the fish an upset stomach, because after three days he spit that cranky prophet up on dry land.
The offer was put before Jonah again and this time he went to Nineveh. Just like he expected, through his preaching, the entire city repented and God was the prodigal son’s father welcoming the whole city back to him with open arms.
Jonah was furious, for he knew God had mercy in his deck the whole time. He found himself a nice perch outside the city so he could have a good view just in case God changed His mind and destroyed Nineveh.
God caused a plant to grow that shaded Jonah. Then God caused it to die. Jonah blew his top and said, “I might as well die, too.” God then pointed out that Jonah cared more about the plant than he cared about a city of over 120,000 people. It was an object lesson for us all.
A prophet of God is like a person on stilts. They often look silly; they’re vulnerable; and moving forward can prove rather cumbersome. Yet they have a better view than all those below them. Jonah only emphasizes his foolishness to the world by knowing directly what God asked of him and being opposed to God, whether literally or in his attitude. Thus, I chose a court jester’s outfit for Jonah. We are the world’s fool when we trust the world instead of God.