Unexpected

Everything is upside-down in the economy of God. The last shall be first and the first shall be last. The
servant is the greatest of all. When we lose our lives we find them. God seems to thrive on the unexpected.
In the nation of Israel, God sent dozens of prophets to urge them to turn from their wicked ways. Some
of these prophets, like Isaiah, wrote massive quantities of perfectly crafted poetic prophecies, and yet the people
rejected them. In the New Testament, Stephen even asks the Pharisees, “Was there ever a prophet your fathers
did not persecute?” (Ac 7:52).
 

So Jonah, likely the worst prophet in the whole Bible, issues perhaps one of the shortest and least
well-crafted prophecies of any prophet:
 
Jonah obeyed the word of the LORD and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very important city—a visit
required three days. On the first day, Jonah started into the city. He proclaimed: “Forty more days and
Nineveh will be overturned.” (Jonah 3:3-4)
 
God’s people wouldn’t even listen to God after being warned time and time again with powerful
messages from righteous men. What would this pagan nation of Assyria do with such a pitiful prophecy from a
pretty bad prophet? Surprisingly:
 
The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on
sackcloth. When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes,
covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. Then he issued a proclamation in Nineveh: “By the
decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let any man or beast, herd or flock, taste anything; do not let them
eat or drink. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them
give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from
his fierce anger so that we will not perish.” (Jonah 3:5-9).
 
Did you catch that? Every single person in the entire city responded with repentance. They fasted and
wore sackcloth (a sign of sorrow and repentance). But not only that, the king declares that even the animals
would wear that sackcloth and fast. It’s like even the animals were repenting and turning back to God.
 
The worst prophet spoke the worst prophecy to the worse nation on the planet at the time, and revival
broke out in ways that the nation of Israel never even experienced. Sometimes you may feel disqualified to do
what God calls you to. But if there’s anything we learn from the story of Jonah, it’s that it’s not about how
talented or skilled we are. It’s not about how blameless our past is. It’s all about who God is, and how God
responds when we are willing to serve Him. What is God calling you toward that you’ve felt unqualified to
accomplish? Why not give it a try and trust the God who changed a nation with a surly, reluctant prophet?