The prophet Jonah wandered aimlessly through the streets of his old home town. Before long a crowd gathered around him. And the comments came thick and fast.
– Hey Jonah! How d’you get on?
– Yea, I see they didn’t impale you and skin you alive then!
– You were lucky mate!
– I’m surprised they let you come home again, the least I expected was for them to slam you in jail for the next 200 years.
– I think it’s disgusting you going to help those savages.
– How could you ever think it’s a God’s will to help them? You know what they’ve done to us. They deserve to die in hell!
– Actually I think he’s brave!
– Yea, who else would be stupid enough to parachute into the heart of those savage barbarians?
– I don’t get it, isn’t there enough to be doing here? Why is he bothering going somewhere else?
– Jonah, have you had a shower lately, you smell terrible mate!
– What’s that behind your ear? Looks like a half digested eel.
Jonah flinched as the comments rang out. He no longer seemed the bold, confident prophet they had once known. Something in him had changed. Then, when the wit and the insults had dried up, and an uneasy quiet had settled, he cleared his throat and mumbled.
– I… I took a little diversion… to Tarshish.
– You went to Spain??? But that’s miles away. And you never sent a postcard
– Tell me about it, it’s taken me ages to get back, since that whale ejected me on some unknown beach.
– You came out of a whale’s bottom? Ugh!!! That’s gross!!!
– No! Not that end. He spewed me up.
– Well that explains the smell. No wonder the Ninevites didn’t want to touch you.
– Actually, the truth is I haven’t been to Ninevah yet.
– Good! Don’t go! Let ’em all die in their yukky horribleness. We hate ’em.
– No… no I… I think I might… I think God’s given me a second chance. You see I met him in that dark in that whale, when I thought it was all over. He was down in there worst place. I think I will go. I’ve just come back for a shower and to change my socks.
– You’re mad. They’ll roast ya!
– (Jonah laughs) No, they’ll be the roasting ones. God’s gonna toast Ninevah, and I don’t mean with a glass of champagne.
– Suppose he doesn’t?
– What do you mean?
– Suppose he helps them?
– Don’t be daft. Now you’re being mad! Help those horrible dog-ends of humanity? Of course God wouldn’t help our enemies! What a daft idea! I’m looking forward to enjoying sitting back and watching Ninevah disappear forever.
– You never know.
– Yes I do. I’ll have something to say about it if it doesn’t happen after all this. I’ll be well miffed…
(For the next exciting instalment see Jonah chapters 3 and 4, in which Jonah gets the hump about God’s kindness, and redirects his anger at a dying plant)